An Inconvenient Truth (about Colonialism)

We begin to dive into Canada’s history – with the goal to view objectively, judge very subjectively, and end up with a clearer picture than what we began with.

Hannah, a morning TALONS learner, tweeted this excellent article which poses a rather heart wrenching question: “Can you live with the knowledge that you are part of a Colonial system?”

Well, Taiaiake Alfred (the author), I sure can – because I don’t even know what a Colonial system is!

“Most people in Canada do not perceive themselves as newcomers to an ancient land that was civilized by people thousands and thousands of years before the French, British and others arrived. This is a serious problem in our society.” (P. 1)

“Ignoring the past and the voices of Native people is what “colonialism” is all about. Colonialism is the disconnection of Native people from the land, their history, their identity and their rights so that others can benefit. It is a basic form of injustice in the world, and has been condemned as a practice by the United Nations. Yet, we have never acknowledged that Canada was built as a colonial country and that it is, in fact, still colonial in many ways.” (P. 3)

The author reminds Canadians of disturbing facts that are easier to ignore than to swallow. Aboriginals are oppressed in horrendous ways by Canada’s government and populace, to such a point that if there is no change now the future of Aboriginal culture is bleak.

I chose this article to remind myself of why we take Social Studies: to learn and apply knowledge that will help us define and unchain our freedom and freedom of others. Specifically, in the PLO issued by the BCED, this text is helping me explore section B2, however I would argue that the time period of 1914-2015 is just as crucial as 1815-1914 when we examine Aboriginal oppression in Canada, and how to stop it.

This is an cohesive, well put together, and hard hitting article. It pokes and prods at dormant cultural insensitivity, and narcissism.

Once again, I ask: Where does our selfishness end?

Progenitors, Inheritors, or Inconsequential Players

A Social Studies post examining our past and future role in the Universe.

For as long as humans have inhabited the Earth, we have looked outwards, towards the vast expanse of space that glitters and twinkles in the sky. Always has the emphasis been on exploration of the Universe before exploration of our own planet; arguably, the Universe has been prioritized over exploration of even our own species. The differentiation between humanity, and the other species that we share our world with can only be the insatiable thirst for learning that drives us. ‘Wanderlust’ is a core component of what we are. You can call it the human condition, that which causes us to push our own moral, physical, intellectual and creative boundaries.

Our personal and individual struggles for meaning and purpose in an environment that does not provide one, cause us to have hope that answers to these systemic problems of human nature exist just outside our vision. We grasp at the stars and seek wisdom.

Even as civilizations have risen and fell, our greatest strength as a species has been the preservation and continuation of learning that has given us elevation to higher levels of consciousness; in turn, changing our focus away from internal survival challenges. In the past 100 years, we have progressed further and faster than any historian predicted we would. In the past 100 years, we have made discoveries that completely and radically changed all of our past understandings about science and our role in the blackness. Now, we are sending expeditions into the void, hoping to colonize other planets or to find the beginning of it all.

Scholars, scientists and other seekers of knowledge would argue that so long as we are conscious, it is our birthright to understand. That if we can observe, it is our privilege and our duty to observe. That if we have the capacity to create we must exercise that capacity in its fullest extent. But how can we justify the involvement of humanity in a scope far greater than our origins? As we reach out from our blue orb hanging in the dark, we threaten infinite possibilities with our presence – are we so arrogant a species as to believe that we are the only conscious inhabitants, and that we alone can exert ourselves unto a solar system, a galaxy, a universe? Even simply observing means we have irrevocably altered the course of both the observer and the observee’s path. Furthermore, if in our pursuits of the cosmos we can answer our own quest for self, what will be left? If all the destruction and suffering we have caused so far has not come close to satisfying the catechism in our identity (why are we here), then what right do we have to keep forging ahead?

For example: we have proven ourselves to be fairly ill-fitting custodians of but a single planet. How can we guarantee doing better on Mars, or any other planet that we aim to build society on? As private space travel becomes more and more realistic, will we repeat our mistakes of the past and let space become militarized? Will overly nationalistic leaders begin a space war in our pilgrimage outwards? Will we pollute everything we can in our own inflated sense of importance?Taking over that which is within our reach is narcissism at its finest.

There is a school of thought that would say we would be ethically wrong to prolong our species lifespan by raping and mutilating another planets resources – and the thought of expanding beyond the solar system to escape the threat of heat death five billion years from now is complete antithesis to them.

A different group of thinkers would be scandalized at the idea of not exploring. “I think, therefore I am.” These dreamers take that idea one step further, where it becomes: “We are conscious, therefore it is ours.”  Supporting this group is the very strong desire to sustain the survival and continuation of the human race, no matter the cost.

As always with questions such as these, neither answer is categorically correct. A Nihilist, someone who has no beliefs or values other than perhaps that of destruction, may agree with either side of the debate depending on whether or not they prioritize the corruption of humanity over that of the universe as we know it.

Where does our selfishness end? Where should it end?

This is the question I pose, and I am strongly looking forward to continuing to explore it in this years Social Studies unit.

Indepth Post #2 (Agreeing, Disagreeing and Differing): Erick Rodriguez

This is late, but hopefully not useless!

My explorations into the Profit Bootcamp have been rewarding, fun, and very, very draining.

For example: take this kickboxing class!

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That’s my face checking out the camera!

Having trained in kickboxing for almost 5 years, and martial arts for over 10, I came into the Cardio Kickboxing class with the assumption that my skills would be tested, but on the  whole I would be alright.

It turned into one of the more gruelling 1 hour workouts I have EVER taken part in. Since then, I do not overestimate my abilities (especially my cardiovascular endurance).

This work out was led by my (now) Mentor! Here is a link to his profile on the Profit Bootcamp Website.

His name is Erick Rodriguez, and he is creatively inventive when it comes to torturing your tired muscles. Not only will he continue to run the after school boot camp classes that I attend, but he is also soon to become my personal trainer for the next two months! That prospect fills with a fusion of joy and dread for the aches that I can already feel coming.

When I first asked him about the possibility of doing some personal training sessions with him, he asked me about my goals. I spoke at length about how, during my training for my 2nd degree black belt I was in the best shape of my life, and how I need to get back to that state for my 3rd degree black belt!

“So Jamie, what you are telling me is that your goal is to become healthier, stronger, more flexible, for this black belt test… and then what? Are you going to let it go down the drain again?”

I sure hope not! It’s a tough question to answer, because in all honesty, every time that I have let my foot off the gas pedal in regards to my training at Yuens, I have lost a little bit of those qualities (strength, nutrition, flexibility, endurance). And each time, when I inevitably return to the front lines, I have to work twice as hard to gain it all back. I would much prefer it if I could, as Erick mentioned, keep that healthier lifestyle and detach it from any variables in my life. I’m in agreement here, Erick.

One of the other things that Erick and I spoke about extensively was our approaches to my training schedule. I had to disagree with him when it came time to write it all down, as he would’ve preferred:

“Boot Camp Monday through Friday, Saturdays with me, Sundays are your rest day. Run every day before school, and continue your training with school.”

As much as I would love to do just that, I know that I have to set priorities. I cannot simply drop my other dreams and goals that I am currently pursuing in favour of one, as much as my mentor may prefer that. I have come across this mindset in all spheres of my life – my music teacher would like me to be playing trumpet 24/7, for example, but I want to remain a well rounded person, so I can’t do that!

In any case – I am glad to have such a passionate, energetic and knowledgeable mentor for this project… lets see where it takes me!

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Your reward for reading the entire post… is knowing that as soon as this picture was taken, I fell on my face!

 

 

Leadership Challenges: 360 Degree Edition

Good. We have covered everything that we shouldn’t believe in, or buy into – aka myths – and now we are ready to become a leader! Right?

Well, maybe it’s not quite that easy. Nobody has ever said Leadership is easy; on the contrary, Leadership is a demanding role that carries many challenges with it. In this blog post, let’s go over 7 of John C. Maxwell’s most important and difficult Leadership challenges.

The Tension Challenge. “The pressure of being ‘caught in the middle’.”  Dealing with tension can be tough when you are being pulled in many directions – you have responsibilities to those below you, as well as demands from those above you! However, the way that I personally deal with tension is to strive for congruence, and integrity in myself. This means that I ‘walk the talk’. If I am consistent with this, then people below me and above me will have realistic expectations, and will be able to ‘read’ me, which I want because it allows them to only ask questions that they know I can answer.

The Frustration Challenge. “Following an ineffective leader.” John C. Maxwell, in his experience, recommends this: to influence the leader in a positive direction, you must first build a strong relationship and rapport with the leader in question. I 100% agree with this method. The relationship is the key! It doesn’t matter how wise, or how well-read, or how clever you are at influencing your leader – if he or she doesn’t like you, they will not take your advice. You must believe in the person, and love the person, before you try to help them grow.

The Multi-Hat Challenge. “One head…. many hats.”  Q.1.

  1. The Student: in Martial Arts, in Academics, in Leadership, in Poetry, in Fashion, and in Athletics – throughout all of these disciplines, I wear this hat. The common trait is that I strive to be hungry for growth.
  2. The Coach: both in Martial Arts and in Poetry, I seek to give those who want it the same incredible experience that I had.
  3. The Boyfriend: making someone feel special.
  4. The Friend: just having fun!

The Ego Challenge. “You’re often hidden in the middle.” Q.2. I would seek to give credit in any situation where the act of giving that credit would lead to my committee members/ quad-mates growth. Furthermore, in any situation where others contributed more, in terms of direction, energy, leadership or love – then that person deserves the credit.

The Fulfillment Challenge. “Leaders like the front more often than the middle.” Q.1.

  1. Pro: you receive credit for the success of your organization.
  2. Con: you receive blame for the failure of your organization.
  3. Pro: you gain position, and thus, authority.
  4. Con: you gain high amounts of responsibility.

The Vision Challenge. “Championing the vision is more difficult when you didn’t create it.” Q.3. Seeing as I am applying for the Program committee again this year, I am going to be make sure that the entire committee has the commitment to excellence as last year. Furthermore, I have to accept that sometimes, the vision must morph to fit the needs of the many, as opposed to just me.

The Influence Challenge. “Leading others beyond your position is not easy.” As an Instructor at Yuens, I am often called on to accomplish tasks or lead people in ways that extend far beyond my position. However, I make it work because I have influence beyond my position, due the length of time I have been an Instructor and my personable personality. This allows me to have influence, and thus, lead those beyond my position.

Leave questions and/ or thoughts in the comments!

Debunking and Discussing Leadership Myths: 360 Degree Edition

John C. Maxwell likes to have his bases covered. To that end, he does his best to prepare those he instructs so that they may receive his instruction at their optimal learning level – as opposed to rejecting his wisdom because of a previous buy-in. Good ‘ol John took it upon himself to define the seven most common and relevant myths to leadership, and so in this blog post you will get to see a bit of some opinionated insight thrown onto some of John’s myths.

We will begin with the Position Myth. “I can’t lead if I am not at the top.” Q.1:  I choose to define leadership subjectively as influence, so I would argue that you can influence others from ANYWHERE in an organization. It’s true that a position may sometimes contribute to building a leader’s momentum; however, it is not a necessary component to influencing others.

Moving on to the Destination Myth. “When I get to the top, then I’ll learn to lead.” Q.3: It is easy to dream of being a great leader, and, taking it a step further, a great person – however the actualization of fantasies has to be accomplished through instilling values into yourself. I am going to become successful in all my endeavours because of my hunger for growth, and my willingness to ask questions to all my coaches and mentors.

The Influence Myth. “If I were on top, then people would follow me.” Q.2: Personally, I try not to follow and learn from those in powerful positions. I much prefer to look for those that inspire me, and those that are living a piece of the life I want to live – then, all I have to do is take whatever they can give me, and I’m one step closer to living my dreams.

The Inexperience Myth. “When I get to the top, I’ll be in control.” Q.2: In a leadership position or role, your responsibilities begin to go up, proportional to how high you go up the ladder. For example, during the Adventure Trip planning phase, the chairs of each committee need to be careful to consult with various committee members before making hasty decisions. If the chairs do this, they will gain access to a wealth of insight it would be impossible to find by themselves, simply because of the different values and thus different outlooks available from each committee member.

The Freedom Myth. “When I get to the top, I’ll no longer be limited.” Q.1: The Adventure Trip committee chairs are near the top of the food chain during the AT planning phase, but that does not mean they answer to no one. In fact, because of their higher position, they answer to MORE people. They directly report to Ms. Mulder, acting as the liaison between her and the overall committee; they must answer to the queries of the committee members, so as to keep healthy mutual respect and conserve momentum; and, they must answer to each other, because of how closely they are working together.

The Potential Myth. “I can’t reach my potential if I’m not the top leader.” Q.1: Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” What she means by that, is that you must agree to the concept of you being lesser, for you to become lesser. The choice to be inferior is up to you, not the person making the comment. Similarly, a position will only limit your potential if you choose to let it – if you choose to embrace every opportunity for limitless growth, and buy-in to the concept of your own infinite power, then no position can hold you back.

The All-or-Nothing Myth. “If I can’t get to the top, then I won’t try to lead.” Q.1: Honestly, this must be the most foolish myth of them all- to buy into this is to reject a better version of you because of events outside your control. Leadership is influence is power is legacy is respect and is the driving factor of success, in almost all of it’s definitions. To choose ‘not to lead’, is to choose to have less influence among others; is to choose to leave behind less of a legacy; and, ultimately, is to choose to be less successful in all your adventures. Choose growth! Choose the best version of you out of the lineup! No matter where you are in an organization, practice leadership.

Some of these myths are quite closely linked, and often if you buy into one, you buy into multiple. So how do you check if you buying into these Myths, right now? Well, the next time you are considering how you want to achieve something within your organization (committee), consider this: you are ALWAYS a leader, everywhere you are, and you have the potential to create change with others if you embrace the actualization of your best self.

^^Jamie Fajber is a grade 10 TALONS student. He enjoys writing poetry, long walks on the beach, leadership blog posts, and writing short third person bio’s in unnecessary places. He is qualified to chat about leadership because everyone is qualified to chat about leadership.

Building the Path: Indepth #1

Mount_Kilimanjaro

 

Mount Kilimanjaro. Standing at almost six kilometres tall, this monolithic summit is the largest mountain in Africa. Although most of the planned ascent is hiking, the trip up passes through snow, dangerous crags, treacherous bridges and narrow precipices.

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It can be a dangerous climb. To mitigate as much danger as possible, I need to be in the best shape of my life.

Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the components of my 3rd degree black belt test. Other noteworthy aspects include live knife defence –

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and a brick break.

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It will look something like this… but hopefully with hella better posture.

This test is shaping up to be the hardest thing I will have ever done, in my relatively short life. It is going to be mentally demanding, and – if I stay where I am now, physically impossible. I am not in the shape I need to be to tackle this challenge. I need to be stronger, I need to be more flexible, and I need to have more stamina.

Thus, this brings me to the point of this post: In-Depth 2015. As I began to realize that this year, I would not have the same amount of time or energy that I used on the In-Depth study last spring (refer to In-Depth 2014 posts to see that Poetry has consumed a large chunk of my life), I decided I would have to do an In-Depth that would fit into another area of my life.

Around this time, as I was considering my In-Depth topic, I was attempting to visualize a scenario where I could successfully complete the 3rd degree test – and I was failing to. Eventually, these two lines of thought intersected, and the vertex was: “Maybe I can combine my In-Depth and my 3rd degree test together! If I can use my In-Depth to get into shape, then I will be able to see if this test is even possible!” This realization sparked my passion, and eventual decision to do Strength and Conditioning as my In-Depth for 2015.

Over the next few months, I will be hitting the gym a lot more! Next week I am hiring a personal trainer to do an assessment of my current fitness levels. Following that, I will be using the trainer to help me set fitness goals that are in the stratosphere but still just obtainable. The plan is to hire that same trainer at the end of the project, so I will have concrete confirmation on whether or not I hit the targets I set out to hit.

One of the other paths I will be treading to gain some muscle and cardio endurance is through the ProFit Boot Camp, on Clarke Street.

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This is a gym that I went to during the summer that really pushed me to my limits with their 90 minute classes. I will be attending around 4 classes a week, and I hope to make some connections that will allow me to find a mentor that can perhaps give me some personal workout plans.

Speaking of personal workout plans… have you heard of Neila Ray? She is a fitness instructor that develops online, 30 day intense workout regimens for different sports.

This is her Martial Arts codex.

I will be beginning this, one month into the project. Hopefully her promises come through!

Using all of these resources, I hope to really make a noticeable impact on my strength levels – allowing me to live a healthier, happier life!

 

Annotated BiBLOGraphy: Shane Koyczan Version

The best resources on Shane Koyczan, laid out here for your use.

1. Stickboy – a semi-biographical novel in verse. Link!

This is the stuff. Stickboy shines a light onto the formative years of Shane Koyczan, and is a window into the worst experience of many children’s lives – bullying. 10/10.

2. Our deathbeds will be thirsty/ Silence is a song I know all the words to/ Remembrance Year – poetry collections. Link!

Koyczan’s work is powerful and compelling; capable of bringing even the staunchest readers to tears of joy, and sadness. 9/10.

3. To this day/ Heaven or whatever/ Troll/ We are more – Poetry ‘Music Videos’ released by Koyczan. Link!

These multimedia presentations showcase the best  that poetry has to offer. Incredibly evocative. 9/10.

4. Stickboy – the Opera. Link!

The novel turned opera is a smash hit with critics and viewers alike. Very informative.

5. Interview on ‘Q’ – podcast from CBC. Link!

Cntl-F “11/26/2014” to find this interview – in the last 30 minutes of the podcast. Shane is ‘articulate’ incarnate. Excellent if you are looking for his thoughts on bullying in a very digestible format. 9/10.

6. Wikipedia ArticleLink!

The best place for finding out the basic info of Mr. Koyczan’s life (birth date, place of residence, etc). Besides that however, useless. 7/10.

Beard Mishaps & How to Apply Peer Pressure to Adults: a NotN Reflection

“…. and I know that a poet without words is kind of like a kid without salvation, so Grandma, I am here looking for your wisdom. There are still deserts, full of kids, asking God why he chose them. They are still waiting, for their clocks – “

Cue the beard falling off my face.

Oh the agony! What was the best rendition of my speech that I have ever delivered, quickly turned into an attempt to stifle the laugh/sob that threatened to escape. In retrospect, it really wasn’t that bad, but in the moment it felt like a truck and just driven through the finish line right before I took first place.

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Despite all the issues though, I think it turned out okay.

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NotN was filled with on the spot problem-solving. Materials went missing, learning centres were falling apart, the flat on the stage – we solved them all.

Eric Kim even stained his shirt, and thus was concerned about looking classy as an MC: but fear not Eric! My sweater was ready for you!

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Eric, you are styling!

My learning centre was way more successful than I had expected. It consisted of a stage, some of Koyczan’s work on display, and some rewards for participation. Simple, right? I insisted that the people who came by needed to fill out a mad-lib of my (Koyczan’s) work. Upon completion, I would then try to charm them onto the stage with honeyed words. It worked maybe 50% of the time?

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I now have a stack of creative, heart warming, witty, touching or satirical mad libs to show for it as well!

In the near future, I will be interviewing my eminent person, Shane Koyczan. Post interview I will post an edit detailing my final thoughts on this project.

Will I remember this night forever? Probably not. Will I remember for it for many years to come? Assuredly.

10/10 Night.

INTERVIEW WITH SHANE KOYCZAN

Shane Koyczan has responded! An interview will be happening promptly, and pieces of the transcript will be posted here post-interview.

NotN Preparation Breakdown (SFU Research Trip Post)

My success at NotN was derived from two things.

1) Some wonderful, one-of-a-kind circumstances that occurred that in no way I could’ve foreseen

2) My prep work. Of course, as #2 is the factor I had control over, it is the one I will be focusing on for this blog post.

For the last 4 years, I have been an avid Shane Koyczan fan. Before I ever wrote a word of my own poetry, I was in love with his. Because of this, I knew a lot about him – I knew the outline of his life story, I knew his work, I knew the cadence and rhythm with which he spoke so entrancingly. Thus, when I began to study him, I realized that the ‘research’ component of this project didn’t seem quite as large as it had originally appeared.

All that changed on October 18th, when I saw Stickboy.

Stickboy is Shane’s first, and wildly successful, opera. It was loosely biographical, and detailed extensively the horrendous experience of being bullied. Seeing this opera completely changed my ideas of Shane Koyczan, and caused my focus to narrow in on a specific part of his life/ psyche/ work: his childhood.

Approximately 2 weeks later, we went off to SFU!

I had realized that I wanted to learn more about the formative years of my eminent person, and now, heading to SFU, I realized that I did not have the knowledge I needed to write my speech and create my learning centre. At SFU my goal was to obtain minimum 3 books, with one of those written by Shane himself. I ended up walking away with 2, of which I only read 1. Nonetheless, I would call the trip a success!

It began with some bus-bonding.

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I fell asleep in the Museum of Anthropology, so I can’t really comment there…

We enjoyed the beautiful grounds.

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And then enjoyed the beautiful, beautiful food.

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A tour of the grounds led by my older sis kept things moving.

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On the way, I learned about effective and eye-catching advertisements.

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And, of course, all roads lead to the library, from whence we departed after completing our tasks. The library was quite extensive, especially compared to the Gleneagle selection.

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The books I took out were:

Our Deathbeds Will be Thirsty – by Shane Koyczan (a poetry collection).

Wonder – by R.J. Palacio (a novel detailing a boy born with a horrible facial abnormality, and the struggles that came with it).

Both books would be a 5/5.

If nothing else, the books I obtained from SFU would’ve made the trip worth it. However, if I add in some spectacular food, the misty and rain soaked campus, and my classmates – an excellent day, indeed.