Saturday, November 20, 2010

CBC Newsday in BC

This is coming to you a little delayed, but November 18th was Newsday in BC!

The 30 finalists from across the Lower Mainland filled the Atrium at CBC, as we celebrated the hard work we had put into our stories. For many of us, it was the first time working with professional journalists and mentors to help build our stories. Although this was the 3rd Annual Newsday in BC, this year was the biggest one yet. More students came to audition than ever, and this year CBC partnered with the Vancouver Sun to showcase print work as well.

I know that many of us have learned a ton about the media industry, and have a better sense of how things work. We've learned how to come up with a good story idea, how to conduct an interview and edit clips. The biggest lesson that was learned is that the story idea you start with will not necessarily be how it turns out. You have to be ready for sudden sharp turns in your path, and persevere through the obstacles.

Personally, my original story idea fell through when the plastic water bottle banning campaign I was going to follow, fell through. Others were stuck in a dilemma when the people they hoped to interview refused to speak with them. Or for some poor people, they were told just minutes before going on air, that their story was cut, because there wasn't enough time. Luckily they changed their mind, because that would have been tragic. We really got to live the life of a journalist for a short period of time, it can be hectic, stressful and crazy, but it's so rewarding when you see the final product published in the newspaper, on the radio, online or on TV.

The whole experience sure has given me a better understanding of what a career in journalism or broadcasting might look like, and I do like what I see. It's a job where you're constantly learning, and soaking in information. Although it was a lot of work for a 3 minute story, it was well worth every second I put into it!

Here is my story:

For the Love of the Game.

This weekend is the Hayley Wickenheiser tournament, taking place at the Burnaby 8 Rinks. It started on Friday morning with a game against the Czech Republic. This was the first time I've played a team outside of Canada and the United States. We were all extremely excited for this amazing opportunity, and we'd heard that their players ranged from age 14-30, but we really had no idea how they'd be. What we really weren't expecting was that their smallest girl (or lady, I should say) was probably 5'9, and they had 4 players on the Czech National team. The day before, some of our team had said they'd seen the Czechs and it looked as if some of their girls were young: after playing all the 30 year-olds we're thinking we might have seen their children. So as you could imagine, the game was a blow-out. The score keeper stopped putting goals up after they were up by 10 but I believe they got up to 17. A happy ending though, we scored in the last 30 seconds making it 17-1! Although we were destroyed, we didn't get down, and the sportsmanship was admirable- that is what international hockey is all about. Canada is known for being good sports and I think we demonstrated that for the Czechs.

Also as a part of this Wickenheiser tournament, there has been many different workshops for the athletes. I've been to two of them, and they were both quite something. On Friday night was the "Hot Stove" where they were discussing the future of women's hockey. Haley along with teammate Carla McLeod, and two other influential people in the female hockey world were leading the discussion. It all started on February 25th, literally moments after the Canadian Women defeated the Americans 2-0. After what had been the most intense year of training in their lives, and after a long stretch of rivalry between the two teams. Jacques Rogge made a statement that women's hockey might not be seen in the next Olympic Games; and from that moment on, there has been much discussion over the topic and lots of activism to be sure that that doesn't happen. At the "hot stove", we got to hear the issue being discussed from the perspective of many different roles in women's hockey. It was almost surreal to be sitting
in front of Hayley, this woman I've watched for so many years, and looked up to since I was young. She has been a huge spokesperson for women's hockey, and listening to her speak was something special. My favourite quote by her was when a young peewee girl asked her what her favourite Olympic memory was and she said "champagne and cigars after the gold medal game." very sarcastically. The Canadian women got in lots of trouble with the media for having champagne and cigars after winning their gold, but when the men did it, it's not problem. Another young girl asked why there's no women's NHL and women don't get paid 6 million dollars a year like the men do, and Carla MacLeod replied "because it's a mans world." And in the hockey world it really is. Canada has the most girls playing hockey in the world with 85 000 girls enrolled but many other countries have enrollment numbers in the low hundreds. Although there is no longer a threat about the sport not being in the next Games, these women are still working hard to try to bring the sport to the next level and help it grow around the world. I was sitting right next to Hayley's parents, and I had a giggle when her father asked a question about if a women will ever be inducted into the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame, because although a great question, we all know that when is does happen, it will without a doubt be his daughter we see in it.

The second session I attended was one of Carla Macleod speaking about her Olympic experience, and more importantly the long journey she took to get there. She couldn't emphasize enough, that although the Olympics are the most incredible event to be a part of, they are only 2 weeks of a very long road taken to get there. I loved that people used to tell her "Carla, you're just too small.", and at 5'4 she is fairly tiny, but she didn't let that get in the way of her dreams (not the one she dreamed when she was 4, of playing on the Oilers, but her 12 year-old dream of representing Canada on the International stage.) We got a sense of hell that the boot camps are that the national team goes through, burning 4 000 calories a day. We got some inside scoop on the slogan "Mile 0... to Mile 25 500" which represented from the time the team started their first boot-camp of the season in Dawson Creek (a.k.a. Mile 0), to the time they hit the ice in Vancouver, they will have traveled 25 500 km. You could see it in Carla's eyes that although she has recently retired from the National Team, that her passion for the game continues to grow stronger, and her dedication to get more girls involved in inspirational. Since announcing her retirement, Carla has been coaching a college team in her hometown of Calgary, running all sorts of camps, and traveling to tournaments to speak and tell her wonderful story.

Hearing Carla's memories were like reliving the Winter Games all over again. I felt like I was back in the rink when Canada beat Slovakia 18-0, but at the end of the game, the fans gave Slovakia a standing ovation. That was the sense of sportsmanship and respect everybody had for each other. Carla had played college hockey with many of the girls on the American team, but she said when you're on the ice, you don't see faces and friendships, you just see the maple leaf or those stripes and stars. Give it your all on the ice, and as soon as you're off the ice, you can suddenly see those opponents as your friends again.

Tomorrow we play Kelowna. Us Avalanche have had a long-time rivalry with them, much like that of the Canada-US. Pretty well every year we meet Kelowna in the provincial finals, and every year it's a close game, but we've seem to alternate who takes home the gold each time. Last year though, the Avalanche didn't even go to provincials, so we haven't seen them in a while. Lets hope we will play the role of team Canada tomorrow, they can be the Americans.

I am silent, are you listening?

Well, I did it. I did not speak for an entire 24 hours on Friday, and I learned one thing for sure: the Vow of Silence is not fun. But it's not supposed to be fun. It was so frustrating to have no voice, and not being able to speak your mind. But that's really what the Vow was all about. Every time I was annoyed because I had something to say, but I couldn't say it, I thought of those children in Uganda who are forced to kill their families, their friends and capture their peers, and how they have so say in the matter. And then suddenly I don't feel so bad. Now I was silent for 24 hours; just imagine 24 hours 365 days a year- I can't.

Today was S I L E N T C I T I E S where all 24 MOB cities across Canada were silent from 12-2. The Vancouver (Mob)ilizers stood in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in plus 2 degree weather, and we were freezing. But then we saw pictures of Saskatoon standing silent at temperatures of negative 30- now that is dedication. We were all in our white t-shirts, with the causes we were supporting written on them- homelessness, poverty, right to education, clean water, child soldiers, abused children. My shirt said "I AM SILENT" on the front "for Evelyn, a 9 year old, LRA abducted child" on the back. I had just met Evelyn a few days ago, and she told us her story of being abducted by the LRA when she was only 9 years old, how she was beaten, traumatized by the deaths of friends and family, bombed at, and much more. After Evelyn escaped she had half her jaw blown off by a bomb, and as she struggled to find her way back to her family, no one would give her a place to stay, food or clean clothes because of the way her face looked. Evelyn was extremely fortunate that some American family has heard of her story and payed for her to come to America to get surgery on her jaw. Then, when the teenager went back home, some neighbours became jealous of Evelyn's trip to North America and decided to poison her pregnant mother. The two were killed from the poison, and as if Evelyn didn't already feel terrible, her father decides she's brought nothing but trouble since she's been home, so he abandons her. All this before the age of 18. What a story; a horror story. And that was who I was silent for today.

Although we were only there for 2 hours, we picked a high traffic area, and there were many people curious as they walked by, grabbing flyers and taking pictures. Many also just walked by as if they didn't notice, but if we as a MOB could make a statement and touch even a few people, then we have succeeded and made a difference. There was a great turnout, and although we were not speaking, I think the event unified us Mobilizers. I will be seeing them all again tomorrow at our workshop.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Roméo Dallaire

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing an amazing man speak.

A senator, the Lieutenant-General, the Assistant Deputy Minister in the Department of National Defence, an author, the recipient of the Officer of Order of Canada, the Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec and the Aegis Award for Genocide Prevention. That is quite a mouth full; but that doesn't even do him justice.

After the incredible speech was over, I found myself speechless. This man had so much to say, and said it with such passion that I was lost in thought. After a lot of thinking and processing, I can now say that what I heard last night was nothing but astonishing.

If you've ever seen "Hotel Rwanda",
Nick Nolte played the part of
the Canadian general in charge of the United Nations Mission to Rwanda, also known as Roméo Dallaire. How a single man can be such a huge part of ending the Rwandan Genocide and how one man can have such a strong voice for children who have none, I will never know.

" I am dedicating the rest of my life to eradicating the use of child soldiers and eliminating even the thought of using children as instruments of war." - Roméo Dallaire

The general theme of the evening was about how this generation and is in an era where we think of our society as progressing. Because we are putting so much emphasis on the environment and making sustainable choices we think that we are doing the world so much good. But why are we worrying about the environment when just over that little pond called the Atlantic Ocean there are hundreds, thousands and millions of children being used as instruments of war? And why are we worrying so much about our environment and not worrying at all that at any moment an atomic bomb could explode and kill masses of people? Why are we saying as a society that we are progressing, when 80% of human population live in poverty? Us, the 20% of the population who are lucky to live in righteous conditions, we need to do something for that other 80%. Whether that be go overseas and work firsthand with children and families affected by war, or whether that looks like writing a one-line email to your MP every day, encouraging them to do something about these horrid issues.

The part of the presentation that got to me the most was when
Roméo described a memory of his. He said he'd never forget the time that he was in Rwanda; him and a few peace keepers were driving through a town where they got out, only to see dead bodies everywhere. Amongst all the lifeless bodies, there was a boy; covered in dirt, surrounded by flies and looked like he hadn't eaten in days. It was when Roméo looked into this boys eyes that he realized those were the same eyes of his 7 year old son he had left at home. That young boy living in these wretched conditions is just as much of a child as all the kids in Canada that have a home, a family and a school. No human is any better, or more important than the next, and in North America if there was an amber alert for any child, we would respond in an instance. So this is the question: if we saw our kids in a condition such those that the African children are in, we would act on it. Why aren't we helping these people who need our help? They are no less human than we are.

It really makes you think.

In a way I feel guilty, but I know that's not the message Rom
éo wanted to give.

Join Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire’s Zero Force, the global movement of everyday people united by a common goal — ­ to ensure that no child is ever again used as an instrument of war.
"Even one child soldier is too many."
Enlist at:

Sunday, November 7, 2010


What. A. Week.

I don't even know where to start. My past week in Ottawa was easily one of the best of my life, and I must say now that I am home, away from my 93 new friends, I feel a little lost, like I don't know what to do with myself.

Before I left, people told me that the people you meet will be some of your best friends, and I thought to myself 'How can you become so close to people in only a week'. Now I completely understand what they were talking about. It's amazing how 93 youth from every province across Canada can come to the Terry Fox Center, not knowing a soul, and leaving 6 days later with 93 new friends. The amount of tears shed as everyone departed on Saturday was unreal. The fact that we didn't sleep at all that night might have triggered some emotions, but it was like leaving your family, and maybe not seeing them ever again.

Remember that sense of pride and unity Canada felt during the 2010 Winter Games? That is what I felt during my week in Ottawa. Never have I learned so much about other regions in Canada. We learned that:

a. Farm kids go to school
b. People from PEI don't live in light houses
c. the terms LG and LB are a west coast thing
d. in Toronto sweat pants are called joggers

Throughout the week, I realized how great it would be to be bilingual. One of my good friends was from Quebec and she spoke just about as much English as I spoke French. It was neat that we became such good friends when we could barely communicate. Soccer is to thank for that friendship; the only word I needed to say was "ici". This trip also made me realize how little French I actually do know, and how much I really want to learn it.

From day to day, people became more open and friendships grew tighter. When a friend told me that by the end of the week you will be a big family, I didn't believe her, but it is totally true. On the last day we had a talking stick ceremony, where we sat in a big circle passing the stick around, where you may only speak when you have the stick. The comments ranged from a Quebec girl saying "You people are all so nice, I have no clue why Quebec would want to split from the rest of Canada" and then breaking into tears, to Hal saying "I met three amazing people this week; Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, an Hermione Granger." Most people said how they love everyone and will miss everyone and we are all amazing people, and although it was repeated more than enough times, every time I couldn't agree more. Tonight, I sit here missing all the amazing people I met, and a year down the road, I won't forget them one bit.

I must say, I am glad that I am one of the 42 or something people there from BC because that way it is easier to reunite. If I was one of the 2 from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario or New Brunswick it might not be so easy.

Well, as I keep rambling on about how amazing the past week was, and how I'll never forget it, it kind of dawned on my that I just missed 5 days of school, and I probably should do a little bit of homework. Oh the harsh realities of coming home.

But to end on a good note, I'll just say: Solidarity Forever.
(Probably the most overused, yet the greatest phrase of the week.)