Josh Awolade – The Cord The tie that binds Wilfrid Laurier University since 1926 Sat, 22 Sep 2018 22:23:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Josh Awolade – The Cord 32 32 42727683 Black History Month ends in triumph for ABS Wed, 02 Mar 2016 12:01:36 +0000
Contributed Image

Contributed Image

Black History Month means different things to all types of people.

This February, the Association of Black Students at Wilfrid Laurier University declared it an open conversation and celebration. In addition to creating posters promoting its culture show, ABS collaborated with the Waterloo campus Bookstore to design a display commemorating the month. The display featured photos and paintings of famous black figures, as well as powerful iconography.

Thandiwe Gregg, the member liaison of the association, sees ABS as an accessible service to all students.

“[It’s for] anyone that’s really open to learning about what people of the African diaspora may face; we come in all different shades and we’re open to anyone coming who wants to learn more,” Gregg explained.

As a unit of the Diversity and Equity Office, ABS receives funding from the university to run its events programming. In the past month, ABS held discussions and collaborated with other associations, including Laurier’s Association of Caribbean Students and the University of Waterloo’s African Students’ Association. Its events reveal an underlying motive to connect with individuals and organizations in the community.

This year’s culture show, held on February 26 in the Turret Nightclub, embodied a progression from the previous year’s #BlackLivesMatter theme. The show stressed its goal of highlighting talent in the campus and the larger Canadian community, with the apt theme of “Black Excellence.” Building on the message of empowerment, there’s a reflective emphasis on recognition and remembrance.

“We just really want to recognize our students, what we’re doing on campus and people in the community because some of these people — black people and people of colour — are doing some great things in the community,” said Gregg.

For all the work put into the show, a serene ambiance greeted Laurier students, alumni and guests. Besides the audience were booths showcasing art by Laurier students expressing their Afro-Canadian experience. The show kicked off nicely and performers expressed their artistry through dance, spoken word, rap and song. Technical issues sprang up later into the night, but the dancers remained energetic and their spirit infectious.

The energy carried into the fashion show, a vibrant and diverse display of colour, texture and pride. Models with attitude presented their cultural dress and original designs while the audience voiced their appreciation. Taking some time from the musical and visual spectacle, the show awarded select guests for excellence in arts, academics, sports and leadership.

“This could just be something to propel someone to move forward, and reassure themselves: ‘Yes, I’m doing something good. I’m doing something excellent and no one’s going to bring me down,’ ” said Gregg.

ABS delivered on its promise and demonstrated an ability to tackle both critical issues and celebrate accomplishments in the community. As a spoken word artist in the show put it: “It is showing that we are a part of history.”

Black History Month may be over, but ABS doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The key to this is meeting at the start of each year to discuss its goals.

“It’s always to represent our values: solidarity, empowerment and progress. In any way that we can embody those terms, I think we just shoot and go off with it,” said Gregg.

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Editorial Cartoons 2015-16 Wed, 13 Jan 2016 06:04:40 +0000 ]]> 0 30786 Dinosaurs return to THEMUSEUM Wed, 11 Mar 2015 11:00:34 +0000
Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

From the life-like reconstructions of dinosaurs to hearing what scientists believe a tyrannosaurus rex sounded like, Dinosaurs: The Edge of Extinction allows for viewers to go back and see how these prehistoric creatures would have lived.

From looking at the way dinosaurs age to analyzing coprolite — fossilized poop — to see what dinosaurs might have eaten, this exhibit sets out to engage people with theories of how they might have lived.

Encapsulating the third floor of THEMUSEUM, the exhibit is small, but concise. Suspended from the ceiling is a life-like pterodactyl with its wings spread wide and large jaw open. Also on display is a life-size tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops, the real stars of the exhibit. Most of the information is featured around these enormous displays with details about what sort of conditions they lived in and how they survived.

The main learning objective of the exhibit is how such large creatures interacted with an environment that was just as fierce as they were.

Interactive elements were integral to the exhibit, with videos used to display current academic research conducted to better understand the lives of these dinosaurs. Visitors can even handle real bone fragments from a tyrannosaurus rex, adding to the awe the exhibit inspires.

One of the most surprising things featured in the exhibit was the historiography of paleontology itself. When certain discoveries occurred and under what circumstances people discovered bone fragments was its own mini-showcase that goes into detail about popular culture representations of dinosaurs in movies over the past 50 years.

Even at the age of 24 I found this exhibit fun and entertaining. While it seemed to be small in size, it was bountiful in content which intrigued my inner 10-year-old to no end.

Reading how fast a baby tyrannosaurus rex could run left me giddy with joy. It brought me back to when I was a child and would imagine myself digging for dinosaur bones in the school sandbox.

An enjoyable exhibit all around, if you have the opportunity to check out Dinosaurs: The Edge of Extinction I say do it. You and your inner child won’t be disappointed.

– Bryan Stephens

The dinosaur is a celebrated cultural icon. With so much mystery surrounding their existence, facts are often warped to thrill audiences.

THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener seeks to enlighten the public with Dinosaurs: The Edge of Extinction. I was excited to check out the exhibit and was not disappointed.

The exhibit makes great use of its space with larger-than-life displays dominating the entire floor. A wide range of detail is provided, from dinosaur-vision to an incredibly life-like feathered raptor I was too spooked to touch. Visuals go even further to include plants, dinosaur eggs and a The Lost World mutoscope. The result is theatrical grandeur reminiscent of the Jurassic Park franchise.

The goal is to make the subject material accessible to all ages, so there is something for everyone. Most of the language is informal, but kids won’t be interested in that anyway. All special terminology is explained for non-paleontologists.

You might notice that the exhibit is overtly focused on the triceratops and tyrannosaurus rex. This works in its favour because it is able to devote more space to the most adored dinosaurs in pop culture. If you haven’t considered the smack down between these two, you are in for a treat.

The exhibit cranks up the cool factor, debunking myths but also introducing new facts. I never dreamed of touching sculpts of dismembered dinosaur parts or marvelling at 65 million-year-old poop, which is actually very important to dinosaur research.

Standing next to a proportional adult tyrannosaurus rex leg, I was reminded of the power of these animals but also the terror they embodied.

I now appreciate the giant beasts but we owe our existence to that fateful meteorite. Dinosaurs were a respectable bunch but I’m just fine with them as movie franchise fodder and toy lines.

The exhibit is professionally executed, on par with something you would see at the Ontario Science Centre. It is amazing to have such an attraction here in Kitchener-Waterloo creatively promoting science to the public. Providing about an hour of content, Dinosaurs: The Edge of Extinction is a fun and educational way to spend your afternoon.

– Joshua Awolade


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Ebola and insensitivity Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:00:49 +0000

There was major panic when news broke about the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa; and rightfully so. Every channel and headline warned of this deadly virus.

We called to check in on our loved ones overseas. People swore to improve their hygiene and looked to science to find the cure.

Unfortunately, the quiet courtesy did not last. As the days drew on, some took to social media to try their hand at dark comedy.

I understand that we sometimes use humour to deal with dire situations, but it is not our country that is being ravaged by this disease.

We are therefore not in a position to crack jokes about it, especially racially insensitive ones.

There has been no shortage of anti-black and xenophobic sentiment expressed and there is absolutely no reason for it. If you would not joke about cancer or ALS, you don’t have a pass on Ebola.

The hate also bleeds into real life, as black children are being bullied in their schools. A high school boy from Guinea was called “Ebola” and taunted by rivals during a soccer match. Two middle-school brothers in the Bronx were attacked this past month and required medical attention.

If kids are doing this to each other we have a long way to go. What discussions are being had in front of children? This emotional and physical violence is just an extension of the “harmless” jokes we see on social media.

This has all happened before, mind you. The SARS outbreak in the early 2000s prompted unnecessary vitriol against the global Chinese population.

Racism made it easier to generalize the entire race and apply one trait – diseased — to all who fall under the umbrella.

Repeating history just keeps us backwards if we never learn from our mistakes. We’ve seen some reactions from the Liberian community; the hashtag #IamALiberianNotAVirus has Liberians around the world calling out the stigma and insults directed towards them.

It is both heartbreaking and maddening to see people having to defend their humanity. The last thing we need during this crisis is having to deal with insensitive and offensive comments from strangers.

The proliferation of the news has definitely played a part in all this. Fear-mongering headlines and breaking news tweets spread confusion and misinformation.

The threat of such an invisible killer is definitely a recipe for mass hysteria. No, a cough does not mean you have Ebola. And yes, you can hug an international student from West Africa.

Another thing that complicates matters is the paranoia coupled with how little people actually know, or care to know, about Africa.

Quite a lot of people have called to halt trading with Africa. Economically unsound nonsense aside, the outbreak has largely been concentrated on the Western coast.

Even then, some West African countries, for example Nigeria and Senegal, have successfully removed the threat of the disease. It is therefore quite reductive to lump these countries as one entity. Of course, this is to be expected as a lot of people still think of Africa as a single country.

The World Health Organization has reported about 5,000 deaths, but states that the toll could be up to three times higher. With new cases popping up, perhaps it is time to reflect on our mortality and our place in the world.

As we become more connected, we need to act as global citizens. There has been a trend of emotional distancing from events in West Africa.

The fact that we are geographically separated from the outbreak makes it easier to speak out of turn. People’s lives are not stand-up material.

Neither are they ideas for a “sexy” Halloween costume. Dressing up as a victim is not clever or edgy, rather, it is lazy and ignorant. This is a simple test of human decency and a situation like this calls for some maturity. All that is required of us is empathy and support for victims and the bereaved. It is our duty to call out our peers and push forward.

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