Finding a path through education

Originally published on UAlberta News.

Lydia Menna outside of the historical Garneau Theatre.
Lydia Menna outside of the historical Garneau Theatre.

A mosaic-tiled rotunda caps an Italian Neo-Romaneque building and staircases wrap around four giant cedar totem poles from the Nsga’a Nation. The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is an iconic building, and a childhood visit there put Elementary Education professor Lydia Menna on a path that would lead her to become a faculty member at the University of Alberta.

“I still have my very first admission token from when I went to the Royal Ontario Museum in Grade 3,” recalls Menna. “That was probably the first time I’d been to a large-scale museum. I was impressed by the monumental size of it.”

Menna’s teaching and research in language and literacy focuses on multiliteracies, a field that recognizes linguistic diversity and a variety of modes of communication, including material culture. Before she joined the University of Alberta, she worked at the Royal Ontario Museum in educational programming and exhibits, then pursued teacher education at the University of Toronto.

After living in Southern Ontario for most of her life, Menna made the move to Edmonton for Fall 2016. From the banks of Lake Ontario to the Prairies, it’s been an adjustment, but she takes it in stride.

“It’s been an exciting experience to move myself into a new situation and environment,” says Menna. “There are differences that you notice– it’s a new curriculum and it’s a different province. It’s exciting getting to know the students and work with them. That’s the part I really enjoy.”

The students are also keen to work with her by helping her explore the city, suggesting festivals or river valley trails to check out.

“When you let them know you’re new to Edmonton, it’s interesting to see what parts of the city speak to them,” explains Menna.

Learning about Edmonton isn’t the only way Menna connects with her students. She’s guiding them as they become teachers. Seeing this growth is heartening for Menna.

“You’re working with student teachers who are developing their professional practice for the work that they’ll do with many classes in many years. There’s impact.”

The Royal Ontario Museum from Avenue Road and Bloor.
The Royal Ontario Museum from Avenue Road and Bloor.

Thinking beyond the classroom walls

While Menna learns about Edmonton from her students, and her students learn about teaching from her, she is cognizant of how educators can make the learning process engaging.

“Learning exists beyond the classroom walls,” explains Menna. “We need to ask what are the kids bringing into the classroom and tap into the classroom we want it to be so we make learning meaningful to them.”

In particular, Menna thinks about the students who import their backgrounds into the classroom, and how that knowledge can be leveraged for learning.

“These students bring in other languages and experiences from other countries,” says Menna. “These are rich resources that they take into the classroom. We want to make sure there is space for that and give the students a chance to realize that these are assets as opposed to deficits. When you think of yourself as a learner, some of the most meaningful experiences were the ones you likely felt connected to.”

As an educator, Menna practices what she teaches by using her personal history with museums to show student teachers how to think about literacy beyond the confines of the written word.

“There’s an assignment that I do with student teachers, similar to an “all-about-me” book. I would present mine on the same day that the students would share theirs. Mine was a piece of creative writing that was revolved around this admission token and the first visit to the museum and how it was a catalyst for a life-long love for learning and museums.”

“It’s funny the path you take,” says Menna. “When I look at my personal trajectory, I see that education was the stream that flowed through it. I see the connection with multiliteracies and mutli-modality. Everybody takes a different path to get there.”


Adventures in Food: The “Back Home” Edition

I’ve long believed that food is a narrative.  If you look at the ingredients and the cooking style, food tells you where you are, where you’ve been, who you are, or even who you want to be. Food tells a story.

Back in Tkaronto (Toronto), I was disappointed with my choices of food. A lot of it bland and boring. Eventually I found a few haunts I enjoyed, and one of my favourites was Caplansky’s Deli.

Smoked Meat Fresser Credit: Caplansky's Deli
Smoked Meat Fresser. Cue the drooling.  Credit: Caplansky’s Deli

Caplansky’s Deli is a Toronto institution– a classic Jewish deli on College Street that everyone should visit at least once. Chances are, you’ll visit again. Whether it was a smoked meat sandwich, split pea soup, a salad, maple and beef bacon donuts, I always loved what I ordered.

Food at Caplansky’s told a story– the story of the Jewish diaspora in Toronto. It’s a story of a rich cultural history, rooted in tradition, but willing to adapt and progress with the changes of time. They make their own smoked meat, and many other foods, in house, but they also sell cheeky t-shirts and house-made mustard; they also opened one of Toronto’s most recognizable food trucks.

Dammit, just thinking about Caplansky’s makes me want their smoked meat sandwich. Sadly, I doubt I’ll be able to find anything here in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton) even close; Caplansky’s is a unique story, one not likely to be replicated.

But the same can be said for food in Edmonton.

Poor woman's cheese and charcuterie. photo by K.Barnes
Poor woman’s cheese and charcuterie– a story I’m learning to tell on my own. Photo by K.Barnes

In Edmonton, the farmers’ markets are unparalleled. Fresh, local fruit and veggies. Baked goods. Organic, free-range meats– even game meats! I found it so hard to grocery shop in Toronto, but being back in Edmonton, I suddenly want to eat everything. In Edmonton, there is value in hunting/growing/making your own food. Quality, local food is celebrated. The relationship with the land is much different, and it has an impact on the food available.

While I could easily go back into my old favourites for food here in Edmonton, I think I need to find new adventures in food. New stories.

Even if I have to learn to make it myself and tell the stories on my own. First stop– smoked meat?

Edmonton-Toronto-Edmonton in three weeks

Studio cammin' it up! K.Barnes
Studio cammin’ it up! K.Barnes

It’s been super hectic since leaving Edmonton on April 6th. In a week, my partner and I have packed up a large portion of our apartment, worked, gone to school, visited with some friends and have tried to tie up as many lose ends as we can before we leave next Monday.

It was a busy three days back at Humber News, getting into the swing of things, seeing classmates and re-learning iNews.

A few big stories broke this week: HSF removing Tim Brilhante from the office of president, Jim Flaherty dying, the accused murderers of Tim Bosma being charged with other murders… OY!

On Thursday, I wrote the York lawsuit story, Flaherty’s death and HSF. I also ran Kiah’s studio cam– the first time!

On Friday, I was part of the report team that covered HSF fallout. I was mainly research help, but I also interviewed Tim Brilhante (for 20 minutes– yikes!), filmed Josh’s stand-up and assisted with editing and writing. It was super busy, but exciting!

This week, with only two days on the schedule, I’ll be the Sports and Entertainment Editor and Production Assistant! Should be nice and busy in the newsroom, if last week was any indication.

Afterwards, next Monday I’ll be driving back to Edmonton. Driving through the States this time should be a lot better than when we drove through Canada on the move out here. 🙂

Award Winner!

2013-10-11 19.22.58
John Greyson and Tarek Loubani return to Toronto. Credit: A. Fernandes

This morning I was notified by my program coordinator that I was the recipient of two Digital Media Gold Circle Awards with the Colombia Scholastic Press Association: one in the breaking news category, and another with the secondary news category!

I’m super proud of both pieces, especially since I worked with fantastic people for each piece.

Kiah Welsh and I spent a very long time working on a big data journalism piece: a comprehensive, interactive senate expense scandal timeline. It took a lot of work and research, but it turned out great.

Epse Currie, Andrea Fernandes and I busted it at Pearson International Airport when John Greyson and Tarek Loubani returned home after being held in Egypt for fifty days. We were brushing elbows with the national media, or in some cases, accidentally walked in front of the camera in the middle of a stand-up. 😉

Congratulations to all the award winners, but especially the Humber students and grads!


VJ-ing the weather

Other than some bad luck getting started on Thursday, I had a great time VJ-ing the weather! It was definitely tricky not having any help with running the camera, or self-filming, but at least editing was easy. *WHEW!*

I tried my best to make the weather segment more than just reading the “Five Day Weather Forecast”– weather has colour and big picture predictions. I tried to add that into my script, but it’s hard when you only have 50 seconds max.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Funeral of Constable John Zivcic: #RIP9284

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair speaking to officers in the processional at Const. John Zivcic's funeral.  Photo by Kateryna Barnes
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair speaking to officers in the processional at Const. John Zivcic’s funeral. Photo by Kateryna Barnes

It was cold today, but thousands of officers still lined up in a processional and many marched to the Toronto Congress Centre for the funeral of Const. John Zivcic.

Zivcic was killed after his cruiser struck another car. He was 34 years old.

The funeral brought out all the dignitaries, including Chief Bill Blair, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mayor Rob Ford.

Lynda Webb, a retired nurse came from Pickering, Ont. for the funeral, despite not knowing Zivcic or his family.

“My heart breaks for this young man; I just want to say thank you to all of the men and women in uniform.”

A couple of the officers from 14 Division I sat next to said it’s a hard part of their job to attend police funerals.

I called into @Humber, after running to my car (quieter) and nearly giving myself an asthma attack for this story.

Reaction to alleged NSA spying in Toronto during G20

It’s not every day that the NSA sends you an email (even if it is just a publicist and you emailed them first).

Today’s story for Advanced Online was on the reaction to the CBC report of NSA spying in Canada during the Toronto G20 summit.

The NSA mission statement on their website is “Global cryptologic dominance through responsive presence and network advantage.” Creative Commons
The NSA mission statement on their website is “Global cryptologic dominance through responsive presence and network advantage.” Creative Commons

Civil liberties groups on Thursday sounded the alarm over news that the Canadian government permitted the U.S. National Security Agency to spy on foreign diplomats on Canadian soil during the 2010 Toronto G20/G8 summit.

New top-secret documents obtained by the CBC were retrieved by whistleblower Edward Snowden, former NSA contractor. Snowden is currently in Russia, seeking asylum from U.S. prosecution.

“The main issue we’re concerned about whether or not Canadians were caught up in this surveillance,” said Sukanya Pillay, the executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

“We’re also concerned about allowing a foreign agency to come on our soil and potentially surveil Canadians.”

The briefing notes don’t detail the targets of the surveillance, but they state that the American embassy in Ottawa was turned into a security command post during a six-day surveillance operation by the NSA during the summit in Toronto.

One of the documents characterizes the operation as “closely coordinated with the Canadian partner”, the Communications Security Establishment Canada.

There were two groups that the surveillance targeted: foreign diplomats and “extremist groups”.

“During the G20 many peaceful protesters and many non-protesters were swept up in the mass arrests,” said Pillay.

“Given that this is what was going on the ground, we’re concerned with what was going on in terms of surveillance.”

When asked by Humber News about the surveillance, the NSA declined to respond to the question.

“While we are not going to comment publicly on every specific alleged intelligence activity, as a matter of policy the U.S. government has made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations,” Vanee Vines, a publicist with the NSA, told Humber News in an email statement.

CSEC aslo declined to comment.

“Under the law, CSEC does not target Canadians anywhere or any person in Canada through its foreign intelligence activities, ” Lauri Sullivan, a CSEC communications advisor told Humber News in an email.

Sullivan also said CSEC also cannot ask their international colleagues to to act in a manner that circumvents Canadian law.

Pillay told Humber News that there needs to be greater accountability and more transparency, as well as more oversight into Canada’s surveillance agencies.

“We have to guard against unwanted and potentially unlawful surveillance of perfectly innocent Canadians going about their business.”

CSEC has authorization from the Department of National Defence to surveil Canadians, but the authorization is at the department’s discretion, said Pillay.

Both the NSA and the Security Establishment were implicated in widespread surveillance at the 2009 London G20 summit, a year before the Toronto G20 summit. The surveillance in London included the hacking of emails and phones of foreign diplomats. The US documents leaked by Snowden describe this type of surveillance as an aspect of their mandate at the Toronto summit as “providing support to policymakers,” CBC reported.

Rob Ford: “The Cat who came back”

Rob Ford Nov. 11 2012
Rob Ford, Remembrance Day 2012, Old City Hall. Photo by Kateryna Barnes

There isn’t much commentary I can add to the Rob Ford saga– many Toronto-based columnists are owning this topic.

This saga is one that every newsroom is fascinated with and no one can’t look away.

In our newsroom, I was the one who saw the news break on Twitter. I was covering social media for my colleague who didn’t show up– this was the only reason why I was watching Twitter while @Humber was broadcasting. As soon as I shouted out “CBC NEWS HAS TWEETED THAT ROB FORD HAS ADMITTED TO SMOKING CRACK COCAINE!” our newsroom fell deadly quiet for a minute, then turned into sheer panic. Some quick rewriting of a Canadian Press wire and we threw it into our line-up for our host. Afterwards, we were ripping clips and running whole new segments in our show.

As a team, we killed it on our noon show on Tuesday. Judy Charles, our professor, informed us that we would have to do another show at 6 pm (when our show is normally a rerun). Five of us stayed until the bitter end: Charlotte Anketell (reporter/writer), Justin Vasko (writer/news reader), Hugh Smith (reporter/host), myself (reporter/studio director/producer) and Judy (professor/everything else).

We managed to get some great interviews, but one that took a lot of time on the phone, even if it meant I accidentally dialed a lot of fax numbers was a City Councillor: James Pasternak, Ward 10 York Centre.

I expect that everyone in news will be keeping a close eye on this story, as it keeps changing. Ford is like the cat that keeps coming back.

John Greyson and Tarek Loubani return to Canada

John and Tarek
Photo credit Kateryna Barnes

It’s 11:00 pm and I just finished posting all coverage of the return of John Greyson and Tarek Loubani to Canada. After being detained in a Cairo prison since Aug. 16 without charges, the two were finally allowed to leave Egypt.

It was such a fantastic story to cover and I’m so glad I was there with Andrea Fernandes and Espe Currie— we made a great team!

Check out our article here!  Raw news conference video, photos, text and more.