The SHAD Queen’s community consisting of 56 talented and unique individuals just came back from a tiring but educational camping experience and we were exhausted. Due to our lack of brain cells, the program directors were merciful enough to let us sleep in and also explore the Kingston General Market. After our little shadful vacation, we were finally well rested enough to keep our eyes open during lectures. After a mindful session of Yoga with Gio, during early marn, we had a gourmet breakfast at Leonard hall. The cafeteria never disappoints!
Following the meal, we went to our first lecture in 3 days. I find that all the lectures that we attend in SHAD are planned very well as they teach us skills that really connect with the activities we take part in when were not in the lecture hall. That was very well the case today as we had lectures in digits disruption and astronomy. The lecture on digital disruption was presented by Sumit Oberai and it really showed us how technology has impacted business and communities. This lecture taught us how to innovate and move forward with today's growing markets. The second lecture was presented by Dr. Brian Hunter, a contributor to SHAD since 2001, and it was on the topic of astronomy. Specifically whether there is a boundary between amateur and professional astronomy. During the presentation he told us his stories with amateur astronomy and all the amazing things we can do for a fraction of the money large corporations use. During our camping trip on Wolfe Island we were able to see the stars and planets clearly in the night sky and now with the new information this lecture brought in, we could now tie it in to our amazing camping experience. It turns out this lecture was the last lecture Dr. Brain Hunter will be giving for SHAD and it was very emotional hearing all he did to bring the program to where it is now.
After the lectures we had a gourmet lunch at Leonard hall. The cafeteria never disappoints!
In the afternoon we did a design thinking workshop with Dr. Jim McLellan from the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. This workshop was a great opportunity to get exposed to a new way of coming up with a plan. We learned how to do so in a efficient manner by using a software that walked us through the steps of design thinking. The software also had a scoring system that allowed for some “healthy” SHAD competition. In the end we learned all about the process of design thinking and how to do it efficiently. The knowledge that we learn in lectures and workshops are somehow always useful during our group projects and it really makes me question how Jen and Erin manage such a organization.
After the workshop we had a gourmet dinner at Leonard hall. The cafeteria never disappoints!
We ended our education filled day with swimming at the Queen’s Athletic and Recreation Center. Some Shad’s swam in the water and raced with other SHAD fishes while others had fun diving off the diving board. In all seriousness it was a great opportunity to cool down from the sunny humid weather days before.
At SHAD Queen’s, every day is a new day and every day we get new surprises and new countoff records. I can’t wait for the next Shadful days to come!
SHAD Queen’s 2018
SHAD Queen's blog submission 2:
My name is Delwyn Marcoux. I am a pansexual demigirl, but I am also much more than that. I am a SHAD fellow, a UWC student, an avid reader, a french Canadian, an environmental advocate, and a mega-geek just to scratch the surface of who I am. Nevertheless, my gender does have a disproportionate effect on my life … usually. Two days before I was to leave for SHAD Queen's, I was laying in bed, very much depressed, not having packed a thing, and wondering if I was going to be able to go. Ever since I got here though, I have felt more supported than I ever have before, and am able to focus on SHAD, the experience of a lifetime!
My adventure had a mountainous start, with its ups and its downs. Within an hour of passing through security in Comox, BC, I had met Carly Rae Jepsen and had been refused boarding. Leaving the Comox airport, I had both an amazing story and an eight hour later arrival time. Thankfully, the lovely Shtaff were very understanding and accommodated this inconvenient series of events.
This first day, unpredictable, tiring, yet safe and supported, was a perfect example of SHAD life. You never know what the next day, heck the next hour will bring, all you know is that it will be amazing. Since arriving, we rehearsed and performed a song in two hours, went on a camping trip with ten hours notice, met the CTO of microsoft, found and modeled a solution to the nuclear storage challenge in six hours, and much more than I have room for. You are certainly getting your money’s worth at SHAD, looking purely at activities.
If you add in the lifelong connections made at SHAD, the experience becomes priceless. Looking back, i surprise myself finding that Carly Rae Jepsen is only the 69th most amazing person I’ve met since leaving for SHAD. Everywhere I turn, there is someone to have a meaningful conversation with, someone to share passions with, and someone to learn skills and lessons from. It truly does feel like a large family, with the directors as parents, the faculty as those fun grandparents, the assistants as the aunts and uncles and all the SHADs as non-identical twins.
SHAD is a diverse community that accepts differences with open arms and open mouths full of questions. Many here felt like they might not have been good enough, many are struggling with innumerable demons, but here at SHAD, all your worries disappear and you become your best you.
“They are all like family to me.” - David Zhu, SHAD 2018
A program that hinges on an uncommon purpose among brilliant and passionate individuals is bound to inspire a mosaic unique to the various SHAD campuses; today, we’d like to shed light on those who have immersed themselves in this beautiful program. Over the past few days, myself (Irvin) and my fellow SHAD Ruru have worked on some interviews with other participants. In nearly two weeks, SHAD Western has teased out smiles, laughs, and lasting connections from individuals spread across Canada. A word or phrase cannot encapsulate the entire vastness of talent that exists at SHAD Western 2018, but we hope to evoke a sense of understanding from yourself through these incredible individuals.
David Zhu, Ottawa, ON
If you were to describe the first 5 SHADs that come to mind with one word, what would it be?
David: People like the Program Managers and Program Assistants and the SHADs have all made this experience amazing so far. If I were to describe them with one word I'd say they are all like family to me. From day one I've felt incredibly included and a lot of people here are like me. I wasn’t expecting to get along with everybody but I was pleasantly surprised.
Kisharne Vashikaran, Toronto, ON
If you were stranded on an island and all you had were spaghetti, marshmallows and string, what would you build?
Kisharne: I feel like since we've done this a ton of times this one should be easy. The first thing I would do with spaghetti, marshmallows and string would be to build a raft and use them to help me write a message. Obviously, I'll be using a ton of triangles cause we all understand that that's what works best.
What do you bring to the table at SHAD?
I bring a positive attitude and the willingness to try new things. I am able to use new experiences to my benefit so that I can learn for the future. To listen to others and hear what they say, and to complete the task to the best of our knowledge.
L-R: Allan Lin (Toronto, ON), Aaron Zhang (Toronto, ON), and Joey Liu (Vancouver, BC)
If money wasn’t a problem what would you do?
Aaron: If money wasn't a problem I think I would still be interested in going into the business and financial professions as that's what I am passionate about and that's what I'd love to do.
Allan: If money wasn't a problem, I would love to try different career fields. I do love math and science so I would probably still study those subjects but then divert into finance in my future as well. I just want to work with other successful people to create products that help the people within our society.
Joey: If money wasn't a problem, I would want to be an entrepreneur who develops ideas that help people in need. Otherwise, I would love to travel around the world and volunteer my time to better other communities. I would definitely try to visit countries in South America just because there's something about it that gravitates towards me.
Akansha Bhargava, Calgary, AB
What motivated you to apply for SHAD?
Akansha: I think what motivated me to apply to SHAD was the opportunity to network with individuals like myself and to be a part of a community that wants to grow, that wants to learn together and work as a team. I think a sense of community brings me pride because I like to see people work together and bring about the change they want to see.
The SHADs of Western 2018 speak of a sense of community, friendship, integrity and we have aspirations to stand at the frontlines of creating change in the world. Through our passions, we inspire each other to work harder and be stronger. SHAD Western has allowed us to get to know each other on a level that cannot be compared. The bonds we have created in the last week and a half are forever. After SHAD we will all be able to work on our goals with perseverance and determination. We are the next generation of physicists, doctors, entrepreneurs and coders. Thanks to SHAD we have the skills to go above and beyond with confidence.
55 students walked into SHAD McMaster on Sunday, July 1st, hands full of luggage, minds full of anticipation and excitement, and faces lit up with smiles. We were eager to know one another, to find those who liked and did the same things we did. And little did we know that just over the course of one week, we would find so much more.
Our quest at SHAD McMaster initially started with us exploring our hearts before our environment. We thought we knew who we were until we stepped into the SHAD program and saw not just who we were but who we could be. In the form of lectures, we explored the crossroads between our passions, and the joy and fear that is improvisation. We were also honoured with a visit from SHAD President and CEO Tim Jackson, who told us that SHAD gave us the opportunity to fulfill the natural curiosity that resides in every SHAD. And though we learned a lot from our guests, we learned just as much from fellow SHADs.
SHADSpeaks have coloured our days and we learned how different we all were. We heard a SHAD talk about societal expectations of men - and how he believes they should abandon them, with his own personal story of how he finally opened himself up to crying. We heard stories - how we saw ourselves in those stories and used them to connect with each other around the globe. ‘Sometimes you need to build a life -- not a resume.’ we learned. And sometimes, we proposed questions to one another that wouldn’t leave our minds until late at night: Were hot dogs technically sandwiches?
Science can be explored in many ways, and there is always more to learn outside the classroom, which is exactly what SHAD allows us to do. We ventured through the campus conducting site assessments of potential outdoor study locations and went on long hiking trips, bug spray all over ourselves. To test our mapping skills, we challenged each other to make the ugliest maps we could. Soon after, we explored forensic entomology - the study of the cause of death using insects! Though the sight of decaying chicken was not a pretty one, it was a rather unique experience. Our time at SHAD has allowed us to explore ourselves and the world through countless perspectives. It also allowed us a little room to be creative!
Let's face it - most of us have considered world domination at some point in our lives. But little did we know we'd have the chance to see it play out right here at SHAD. We were given the task to create a city - a SHADCity, with eight districts, twenty thousand residents, and all the necessary makings of the city. First step: elections for government. Mayor Matt wore a sparkly purple hat and had a fairly good approval rating, save for a few rebellious districts. The entire city was planned with negotiations made by city councillors… little did we know we'd be constructing the SHADCity the next day at Ipperwash Point, a beach on Lake Huron. What ensued was a couple hours of natural disasters, sketchy deals, and lots of laughter. Between lighthearted moments and seriousness, our time was packed.
Coming to SHAD, we thought that we'd be doing hardcore exercise every day, but we quickly realized that the PAs had something a bit different in mind. From capture the flag with four teams to group yoga, we've been challenged with activities we've never done before (in 38 degree weather!) Picture this: 55 SHADs lying in the grass under the shade of one of the beautiful trees on McMaster’s campus in the Bananasana pose (a fruity remix of the classic savasana), trying not to giggle. We then gave up on traditional yoga entirely to form highly unstable structures using the most ridiculous combinations possible: “Six people with three hands & two feet on the ground only!” Through it all, we smiled - and sweated - together.
We spent our days together and built a close-knit community of like-minded people. Particularly afraid of heights, one SHAD did not want to climb the 52-feet tall rope structure. He decided to go for it and we all gathered on the ground, heartily cheering for him until he triumphantly pulled himself to the top. In essence, for us, this is what SHAD is: a family of incredibly diverse and ridiculously talented people who push each other to reach new heights (pun intended) and overcome our fears. We encourage each other to do better, to be different, to burn as bright as we can. Every. Single. Day.
Yes, when we walked in we were nervous. Yes, we were excited. Yes, we were a little confused and a little lost. On the first day, though, we knew why we were there - we knew how we had gotten there, who had been with us through thick and thin. We started the very first day by thanking those in our lives who had bought us here, be it our parents, siblings, or friends. We ended our first week by thanking those at SHAD who had so quickly come to mean so much.
When I first walked into Pitman 200, I was more anxious than I’ve ever been in my life. My hands were shaking, I felt numb and I missed my parents and my home tens of thousands of kilometers away in Dubai’s blistering heat. I didn’t know that by the end of the next day, I would be dreading something very different: going back home.
I met some of the most wonderful people my age by swallowing my fears and walking up to a table to make a name tag for my door. I got to know some of the most interesting people my age by playing a form of bingo that served as an icebreaker. I got to know some of the most brilliant people my age by sitting at the dinner table with them. Normally, it takes years and years of slowly building trust, spending time with, and getting to know a person before it can be called a friendship.
At SHAD, all it took was the sparks of conversation for one to click instantaneously.
Within the first week of SHAD, I had 71 new best friends. The SHAD speaks were a way for us to come out of our comfort zones and learn how to speak in front of an audience. Our biotiles were a way to learn about the people we’d be spending a month with. The two night camping excursion was a way for us to bond over our mutual dislike of mosquitoes. We had campfires both nights while we were there, and it was the first time I’d had a s’more. We scaled a climbing wall made from logs. It was so difficult, but man, did we feel good at the top.
We made tie dye shirts with our rec groups, all named after professional sports teams from Toronto. The farmer’s markets on Wednesdays are arguably the most looked forward to event each week, where we’re allowed to walk around the lively city of Toronto in groups of three and more.
Last, but not the least, the PA’s and the Program Directors. SHAD Ryerson wouldn’t exist without them, their guidance and how deeply and genuinely they care about each and every one of the young individuals in their care. From sitting with us at mealtimes, discussing our ideas with us at project times, to generally supervising us and making sure that we’re all okay, mentally, emotionally and physically, they’re the cement that holds Pitman Hall together.
SHAD may just be the best thing that’s happened to me so far.
“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
- Will Rogers
These past few days, the Waterloo SHADs have not been just sitting there. We jumped into the program, right from the onset. On our first day as SHADs, we were greeted with a seemingly impossible challenge: to design a system through which a marble would reach its desired location with a minimal amount of materials. However, at SHAD, every aspect of the program features a unique twist. In this particular situation, we had to ensure that the marble would arrive in its desired location at a set time - a whole 30 seconds later. While we were originally nervous when approaching this activity, we adopted the mindset that everything is impossible until someone steps up and accomplishes it. And 54 SHADs accomplished just that.
For one of our recreation activities, we played pool noodle hockey, which was completely new for all of us. If you don’t know what pool noodle hockey is, just take hockey, subtract the hockey sticks, replace them with pool noodles, and add a field full of goose droppings and 54 over-eager SHADs. Learning to play an entirely new sport on the spot with a team helped us to strengthen our bonds; it was a difficult process, but in the end, we discovered that it doesn’t matter if you looked ridiculous - because we all did.
On our second night in Waterloo, we were paired off into groups and given an hour to create a musical entertainment piece for Music Night. Many of us were nervous approaching the activity, and justifiably so. However, after the first few performances, our nerves began to settle. We got into the “rhythm” (get it?) of things because we were able to see all of our peers go up and be courageous in their own right. Moreover, this activity encouraged community team building because it was in the very first few days of the program and that allowed everyone to get to know each other and their skills. We all talk about building a “SHAD community” but you never really know its depth until you experience it. The performances in themselves were incredible, and if it wasn’t hard enough to prepare a group number in an hour, imagine only having 10 minutes to prepare a solo presentation, because guess what? That is exactly what happened next. Some people didn’t even have anything prepared and began composing on stage. One SHAD began with, “In the style of Chopin, I’m just going to make something up” while a duet began with “apparently we’re going to do something in the key of D.” If you don't believe the truly out-of-this-world talent we experienced, just call Stacey’s Mom and ask!
And of course, with Wicked talent comes Wicked problems. Just yesterday, the SHADs were given the Wicked design question, which we will be working on for the next two and a half weeks. This question allows the SHADs to explore solutions to the question “How might we help Canadian communities be more resilient in a natural disaster?“ Like SHAD Calgary pointed out, we’ve been learning design challenges, which us SHADs are very excited to use when approaching this problem.
Eighty of us SHADs at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) woke up to a cool morning which later turned into a heated, sweltering day. After breakfast at the McConnell Hall, our eager group strolled down the campus to a grassy area in front of the Sir Edmunds Head Hall. There, Ian Fogarty, the Program Director, started the day with an individual activity. We were instructed to ponder about specific goals and personal objectives we had for our SHAD experience. It was particularly peaceful; the sky was clear with faint streaks of clouds and a soft breeze rustled the leaves in the trees above. Following the activity, we headed to the Dineen Auditorium within the Head Hall for a lecture.
Meeting Tim Jackson:
Quickly into the presentation, we were extremely fortunate to have the privilege of meeting the CEO of SHAD, Tim Jackson. Earlier, he joined everyone for breakfast and told us several of his past experiences to inspire the SHADs. This included his areas of study, interests growing up, and his journey of obtaining the position of CEO in the program. During his speech within the lecture hall, he described a number of SHAD's future goals to expand the program in the next couple of years. He touched on improving the application process to expose more youth to SHAD and increase interest around the country, and encouraged us to promote SHAD to individuals not traditionally exposed to it. In all, Tim was the catalyst of day four at SHAD UNB as he truly inspired all eighty of us .
Finally, the SHAD Entrepreneurial Project theme was introduced to all of us. Keeping true to SHAD’s unconventional thinking, American-Canadian astronaut Drew Feustel introduced it all the way from the International Space Station. As we marvelled at the sheer amazingness of Drew’s announcement, he presented the theme: how can we help Canadian communities be more resilient in a natural disaster? After that, UNB senior teaching associate Dan Doiron delved into the thought process of entrepreneurship, in addition to an example of a UNB startup company, Smart Skin. Unique to our campus, us SHADs had to research and create a 60-second pitch addressing a specific issue within the SHAD EP theme. Equipped with Dan’s knowledge, we were ready to tackle the project for the first time.
To all SHADs from every other campus, we would like to ask you some questions. Is it 30+ degrees outside? Do you feel like you could drown in your own sweat? Is the sun beating down on you so hard that you feel like a baked potato? If you are in any campus (with the exception of Memorial), this situation should apply to you. While we were completely sweating throughout the entire day, we are extremely fortunate for our Program Directors to be so thoughtful of us, and to allow us to cool down during a fun time at the pool. From capturing underwater dabbing photos, daring each other to belly flop off the high diving board, participating in floating mat races, to actually belly flopping off the high dive and hearing a painful “splash”, it was definitely enjoyable for everyone. This activity was a moment of respite in this interminable heat wave, and even though a few people ended up with gigantic red criss cross lines on their stomach, everyone agreed it was an extremely enjoyable, entertaining and lively experience.
Meanwhile, the SHAD’s at the gym had an equally enjoyable time. Many came together for a soccer match as others paired up for a one on one game of basketball. Also, a few dedicated SHADs ran dozens of laps around the gym until they burned out. The maximum distance reached was 12.2 kilometers.
EP Project Pitches:
After a hearty supper, the SHADs headed down to Dineen lecture hall to pitch diverse problems related to the natural disasters theme of the entrepreneurship project to everyone. Even during the commencement of the project, it was extremely eye-opening to see the sheer variety of topics covered by the SHADs. Ranging from important issues such as faulty infrastructure to often overlooked problems such as mental illness after disasters, each SHAD exhibited spectacular knowledge and creativity with their pitches. As well, we were honoured to have Tim Jackson sitting in during the pitches.
To conclude the fourth day with our family, the Program Assistants (PA) organized an entertaining game night that would allow us to bond over board games. Amongst the multitude of games provided, some groups played the well-known game of Apples to Apples, while others exercised their creativity and imagination with intense games of Scribblish. Apples to Apples was classic family fun, but our wild interpretations of our SHADs’ pictures and words in Scribblish made for some hilarious results. The PAs prepared nutritious and refreshing fruits for snacks, such as juicy slices of watermelon. In their dedication to keep us functioning during the heat, the PAs also passed around Gatorade bottles packed with electrolytes and deliciously unpronounceable ingredients. Since this day was considered a “late night”, these activities continued on until 10:30 P.M., where we then went on to do various things, such as preparing for bed, learning how to draw from our very own Professor VanDerLoo (a SHAD with an artistic talent), or complaining about the persisting heat.
In short, today turned out to be a really impactful day for all of us. Despite the scorching heat, it was a day we will all remember as the one during which we learned about the entrepreneurial project, and during which we saw each person’s individual genius shine through.
Written by Allen, Brian, Isra, Michelle, and Natasha
That’s how we start every day here at SHAD Calgary. Sixty-four students gathered around our Program Assistants in the common room at 7:50 am, each saying their assigned number to count from one to sixty-four. Some are excited and ready to go; others, we’re pretty sure, are still asleep even as they stand there.
After countoff, we head to breakfast for a hearty meal which will sustain us through the first lecture ― “StrengthsQuest Workshop.” This workshop, for which we filled out an extensive survey the night before (seriously, it was over 100 questions), helps us analyze our strengths and understand the many ways in which we can contribute to group activities here at SHAD and into the future.
Following the lecture, the SHADs are introduced to five committees: Clothing (to design SHAD swag), Banquet/Talent Show, Open Day, Monthbook/Instagram/Blog (yours truly), and Videobook. We get the chance to pick which committee we wanted to join, and we’re all looking forward to working together to help make our experience here more memorable.
Then, lunch! This is an appropriate moment to note that the food at SHAD Calgary is amazing. Today’s lunch of lasagna was widely appreciated by the SHADs at U of C. In the half-hour of dead time between lunch and the next lecture, we hear some exciting SHADspeaks covering topics from concussions to finding yourself as a leader. We applaud the six brave souls who volunteered to speak!
At 1:30, it’s time for our next activity. The “Design Challenge” is put to us by Dr. Anis Haque, one of our Program Directors. We have only 30 minutes to design, in groups of four, a robotic arm that can grab and lift a cup containing weight. The catch? We have very limited materials. Confined to only a few pieces of cardboard, two hangers, some rubber bands, paper clips, popsicle sticks, golf pencils, and brass fasteners, we’re grateful that we at least get access to scissors, pliers, and tape. Armed with these materials, we set to work ― only to realize that, in true SHAD fashion, we’re being thrown even more challenges along the way. Ten minutes in, Anis tells us that we cannot speak for two minutes. Twenty minutes in, we lose the use of one of our hands for the same amount of time. Still, the SHADs pull through and build some phenomenal robot arms!
Done with robots for the day, we split into three groups and move on to Daily Recreation. One group hits the dance floor to learn some new moves, another heads off to play badminton, and the last makes their way down to the squash courts. For an hour, we work at our assigned activities; then, we walk back to the residence to get ready for dinner.
After dinner (which was some lovely Greek food and pasta), it’s time for the highly anticipated KARAOKE NIGHT! After a little break to prepare any sort of sing-along act, the SHADs all gather in the dinning hall and wait for the show to begin. The SHAD community at University of Calgary go on to perform songs from a huge variety of genres. There are songs by Queen, Journey, Miley Cyrus, and even from the High School Musical soundtrack. Although some of the SHADs may have lost their voices, the experience made the relationships built today a million times stronger.
All in all, arriving to the SHAD Calgary campus was an adventure for some, yet it was all worth it when they got introduced to their new rooms, lecture halls and most importantly, their family for the rest of the month. From the welcome orientation to goal setting sessions, discovering leadership identities to team building activities, amazing races to daily fitness; we have made relationships that already feel like they could last a lifetime.
In conclusion, what are SHAD Calgary’s top ten moments in the last 3 days, you ask? Well, countoff!
Meeting all the other new, wonderful and interesting SHADs.
Being guided and mentored by our lovely, enthusiastic PAs and Directors.
The amazingly interesting SHADspeaks, although they must be so nerve-wracking for the presenters.
Drink water! H-2? WHOA! There have been many reminders so the SHADs can stay as healthy and hydrated as possible.
Listening to interactive lectures on values, identities and transforming the effects of stress into strengths.
Determining and discovering our strengths as individuals and how they apply to all aspects of our life.
The incredibly variable weather here in Calgary that makes for an interesting travel around campus but gives character to everyone’s memories.
Design Challenge which let us use all of the SHADs’ engineering skills to innovate and construct a robot arm.
Karaoke ― singing along to songs of all genres; from High School Musical’s Breaking Free to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing.
Finishing our 1000-piece puzzle that many of us have been slaving over for two days.
We’ve had such an amazing experience already and it’s only been three days! We look forward to bonding time with our SHAD family for the rest of the month, where we learn, grow and establish lifetime bonds with individuals who invest in their own uncommon purpose!
Having arrived yesterday to Halifax excited, nervous, and tired from up to a day of travel, today was the first day of full programming for the SHADs at Dalhousie University. As we prepared ourselves for a “heatwave” that was forecasted for Halifax, we quickly learned how much the weather can change on the East Coast- instead of intense heat, we experienced a chilly fog that swept the campus.
We started the day with something called “Camera Ready”. Questions filled our minds: Were we going to learn about photography? About film development? About this history and progression of technology in the film industry? Why did they tell us to wear clothes conducive for exercise? As it turns out, “Camera Ready” was a photo scavenger hunt and we worked in teams to find locations on campus, take photos with various instructions, and return to our meeting spot ready to present these photos to our fellow SHADs and SHAD Staff. The points allocated for each photo turned out to be meaningless, but the memories captured in these photos from our first day at SHAD Dalhousie will live on forever.
In the afternoon, we had a longer hands-on experience designed to prepare us for team success through understanding the group process. Part of this included establishing trust to help us explore our growth zones. To help us build trust, we used pipe cleaners to build shapes or objects that represent something important to us, and had the opportunity to share them with the group. The creativity was astounding as each SHAD found ways to represent abstract concepts in pipe cleaner object form. Common themes emerged from what was important for our SHADs- family, friends, sports, music, culture, etc. It was comforting to find ways in which many of us are similar, and inspiring to find ways in which we are unique during this activity.
Finally, our evening activities led us to being “drafted” into our house groups by our Program Assistants. We will be working with these house groups for the duration of SHAD to plan, design, and build a project, and create a business plan.
It is hard to believe that we’ve only been here for a day and a half, we’ve already learned a lot, met so many incredible new friends, and there are still 25 days to go!
SHAD SPOTLIGHT: Jordan Bertagnolli - Discovering what it means to be Canadian
Monday, February 26, 2018
My name is Jordan Bertagnolli, a SHAD Fellow from UBC 2010. As part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebration, I joined a signature Canada 150 project, Canada C3. Canada C3 started June 1, as the Polar Prince icebreaker left the Toronto waterfront bound for Victoria through the Northwest Passage. For 150 days as the ship traveled through Canada’s coastal communities, it engaged in the Canada 150 themes of reconciliation, youth engagement, diversity/inclusion, and our environment. It was a journey to connect Canadians, reflect upon our past, and look towards the future.
Polar Prince - Bathurst Inlet
I was one of 35 C3 youth ambassadors selected out of 3,000 applicants from across the country. I joined leg 10 of this voyage in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut, traveling from Iqaluktuttiaq (Cambridge Bay) to Kugluktuk.
Hiking Tikiaruk “Index Finger” with fellow youth ambassador Alex
Much like SHAD, living in close quarters with a driven group of individuals is inspiring. The week I spent in Canada’s remote arctic can be best described as ‘Kadjianaktuk’, Inuktitut for all encompassing beauty from the human perspective. The endless landscape was beautiful and dramatic. However, it was the time spent with fellow C3 participants and the warmth of communities that welcomed us ashore that is still impacting me. It was a week that challenged my understanding of what it means to be Canadian.
I had applied as a youth ambassador because of my interest in the voyage’s theme of environment. Planning to continue my education examining how human health is shaped by our ecosystems, I was eager to use my background to engage Canadian youth in a discussion about the dramatic changes occurring in the arctic. However, leg ten had a significant focus on the theme of reconciliation. As a non-indigenous Canadian living in southern Canada, I was ignorant to the reality of the impact of 150 years of confederacy on Inuit communities. I heard how the Residential School System had left children unable to communicate with their families who only spoke Inuktitut. I was also told of the impact on northern communities relocated from traditional lands to government settlements.
The expedition leg started in Iqaluktuttiaq (Cambridge Bay). Cambridge Bay was traditionally a temporary Inuit dwelling spot, however, that changed. The residential school and centralization of economic opportunities relocated many of the surrounding settlements to Iqaluktuttiaq. This has separated many from their homelands.
On the water in Cambridge Bay with the Rangers for their search and rescue demo
While in Cambridge Bay, I had the opportunity to walk on Roald Amundsen’s ship, the Maud. He was the first European to successfully navigate the Northwest Passage. It was surreal to stand on this piece of history that had been at the bottom of the ocean for almost a century. I also had a tour of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station. As a testament to the warming climate of the arctic, a cruise ship pulled into the harbour of Cambridge Bay on our last day there. As the cruise ship disembarked, the community’s population doubled. It is hard to imagine that this form of tourism is now possible in remote northern Canada.
Our ship ventured into several bays along the Dease Strait, and we had several landings at abandoned Inuit settlements, archeological sites and geological features. To travel through these areas was a unique experience, requiring permission from the Inuit Land administration as the territory of Nunavut is Inuit-owned land. I was surprised to learn that most of our journey was in unchartered waters. At this stage in our nation’s history, it shows the limited attention Canada has given to the arctic. This rich area of Canada remains poorly understood to the scientific community; many of the research projects onboard are focused on creating a baseline for biodiversity in these ecosystems.
Traveling to these northern remote communities it became clear not all Canadians have the same access to services. Nunavut is Canada’s fastest growing region. With the increase in people, a housing shortage has occurred; some communities have hundreds of people on waitlists for homes.
These remote settlements have limited access, often relying upon ship or air for resupply. This isolation can be intensified with poor infrastructure. On this journey, the Polar Prince was unable to dock alongside any community from leg 5 in Nain Labrador until leg 13 at St. Johns B.C.
Polar Prince in the harbor at Cambridge Bay
Across the Bay with the Rangers, in the background you can see Cambridge bay and the resupply ship off the shore.
There are no hospitals in most of the communities. If there is a serious illness, people must be flown south. However, airports can also be difficult to access because of poor weather.
Despite these hardships, the Inuit communities we visited were rich, welcoming and resilient. It was also encouraging to see so many Canadians from diverse backgrounds across the country eager and willing to understand their past mistakes, as well as the diverse cultures, and ecosystems that make up Canada. As we look to the next 150 years as a nation, Canadians need to be actively engaged in the themes that are being explored in the C3 expedition. We need to better understand the challenges facing our indigenous communities and alongside them to work towards solutions, protecting our ecosystems for future generations and creating a diverse welcoming country.
Leg 10 participants at Tree River
I value my experience at SHAD UBC and the lasting relationships I forged during my time there. We live in such as massive country, and this imposes barriers. Yet, like C3, SHAD created the opportunity for a group of Canadians to connect, and work together. It is through building these personal relationships that we better understand our country, our fellow citizens, and thus together we can work towards a brighter future for all Canadians.
On October 28, the C3 expedition reached its end in Victoria’s inner harbor. It was a surreal moment seeing the Polar Prince dock in downtown Victoria. It seemed so much smaller compared to its presence in the vastness of the arctic tundra in Nunavut. I was able to join participants from all 15 legs as we celebrated the success of the expedition and its future impact through the development of legacy projects. A series of educational documentaries, visual art, and literary works will be produced to continue reaching Canadians, and engaging generations to come in the themes of reconciliation, environmental protection, diversity and inclusion, as well as youth engagement.
Polar Prince Docking at Victoria B.C.
It has been a few months now since my time in the Canadians arctic, and like SHAD this has been an experience that has shaped me. I came away from SHAD inspired about the role I can have in Canada as a youth. Through that month we successfully tackled a challenging task. Like SHAD, Canada C3 was inspiring. Leaving the legacy discussion in Victoria, I felt more equipped to be an active participant in the path towards reconciliation in Canada. Realizing that even the small things I do in my daily life can be a part of this process. As the expedition lead Geoff Green said, "We are approaching a potential turning point as a nation." In many ways Canada C3 felt like a tangible step towards that. I am looking at pursuing a degree in medicine. I have always had an interest in rural practice, however, after this trip I have had a growing desire to look north at more remote communities. If I am fortunate enough to receive medical training, bringing that to communities that have limited access to these services would be a tangible way for me to be involved with reconciliation and improve healthcare access for some for these communities.
From Prime Minister's Youth Council to Home Builder - Q &A with Alex Bouchard
Friday, February 16, 2018
We sat down with Alex Bouchard, one of our three SHAD Fellows on the Prime Minister's Youth Council. As a resident of Haines Junction, Yukon, Alex has always been passionate about sustainability. Most recently she has become an advocate for young home owners after experiencing some set-backs as the builder of her own home.
Teddy: Let’s begin with you getting picked for the Prime Minister’s Youth Council. How surprised were you when you heard that news?
Alex: Extremely surprised. I mean 13,000 people applied for that position and it felt pretty surreal that I got picked out of all those people.
T: What did you say in your video pitch?
A: I went a little on a rant but my passion kind of shone through that.
T: You went on a rant? In what way?
A: *laughs* Well I live up in Haines Junction, Yukon and the internet wasn’t super great that day. I attempted to record my video many times and the more I did it the less composure I kept. Finally, I decided to keep the last one I recorded and thought, “Well, I don’t know if I’m going to get this job so I’m just going to say what I really think.” I talked a lot about the need for more drastic measures considering it is 2017 and we’re still really destroying the environment.
T: In 2009, you were a high school student. You went to SHAD at UBC. What impact did that have on you as a young student at that time?
A: SHAD had a huge impact on me. For one thing, I went to UBC afterwards, so it helped me pick my university for the future, which is pretty neat. But it was also one of the first times I was in a room with a whole bunch of leaders and we were told that we could do whatever we wanted, we just had to put our minds to it. That was a pretty special thing to have experienced.
T: I’m curious if you could describe one of these ice breaking exercises that you had at SHAD, because if I’m not mistaken, it was all about building a house out of newspaper?
A: Mhmm. So that was one of the first activities I remember doing as a group. We didn’t know each other super well and we were told you have to build a house out of newspaper and it has to be able to stand up on its own and fit everybody inside. And I remember looking at the task as this impossible thing. But as a group, we sat down and we thought, “Okay, so the triangle is the strongest form, so let’s go with that first. And well you know, I’m from the Yukon, so let’s do an igloo; those are pretty solid.” And so as a group and as a team, we actually built a house that totally stood on its own and fit everybody inside. And I remember it being pretty cozy and it was a pretty special lesson to say,“If you take things one step at a time, nothing is really impossible.”
T: Did you think about that lesson during the last year and a half, now that you were building an actual house of your own, with your own two hands?
A: Yeah. I think it’s a lesson that I’ve tried to carry throughout my life. I just finished building a house here in Haines Junction and it got very daunting. When you think of a house as a whole there are so many pieces to that puzzle, but when you think about the little pieces one at a time, it kind of builds itself. It was a really neat project and I’m really glad I did that.
T: Tell me what motivated you to actually go and do this, building your own house, basically from scratch?
A: To be honest, I was a little bored. I had just finished university. I had a little time off work and I was kind of looking for a new project. And I’ve always known I wanted to try to work with my hands. I find, you know, after a day’s work in the office you’ve emailed a hundred times but you haven’t really created anything. So the house really appealed to me because I would be building something that would stand time, you know? That’s kind of what motivated me and I was looking for a place to stay so it seemed like a nice project to start.
T: Tell me about how difficult it is to build a house? If you could put into context what it’s like to build a house up in the north where you are.
A: It’s a great question. It’s very difficult to build a house. If I knew all the aspects of it, I don’t know if I would have done it. I was very naïve about the realities of it. It’s really hard, both mentally and physically. Mentally you’re always thinking five steps ahead; you’re always thinking about the house. You can’t hang out with your friends because you’re working during the day with Parks Canada and working on the house at night. And physically, I think I ripped out three of my nails. I have so many scars on my hands now from the house building and it was a pretty hard process. But I do feel a lot stronger from it. You learn so many different tasks along the way and lessons, so it’s pretty cool.
T: Are there specific challenges to building a house in the north. I’m thinking at this time of the year with so little light, for instance?
A: Yeah we have more time constraints. I started taking down trees off the lot in July before we started to build, and then we were racing against winter. We had to get a frame solid before winter came, so it was a lot of working on a deadline. The darkness wasn’t too bad once it got there. We were lucky because we had a generator and we started to do the electrical work. But I know a lot of people can only work during the summer so their building time is a lot shorter than most. And you’re also racing a little bit against the cold. You know, you want to make sure that you have a fireplace in there or some sort of heat so that you’re not working at minus 40 inside.
T: Can you paint a picture of the house for us?
A: I’m calling it the “New York loft look". I had no idea what I wanted at first. I was on Pinterest a lot. I highly recommend it for anybody that’s looking to build a house or decorate. I would just look through pictures and be like, “Ooh ya I like this” or “I don’t like this” and “I like that”. So I kind of slowly over time built an image of what I wanted for the house and it turned out to be very modern – very loft looking. It has a lot of wood inside and it’s quite cozy. It has two nice fireplaces to keep the house warm.
T: And you have quite a view, I’m told.
A: Yeah I live beside Kluane National Park and Reserve which has the tallest mountains in Canada. I get to look at those mountains every morning.
T: Did you include certain elements? Your big thing is again the environment and sustainability. Did you think about building the house with that in mind?
A: The house has an eco-rating to it. So that means it’s so well insulated that it’s not using a lot of heat to heat up. I tried to buy appliances that would be environmentally friendly. I tried to do little things. The lights are all good for the environment. It’s hard. I was definitely thinking of solar panels but given where we are up north, it’s hard to justify solar panels when it’s pretty dark most of the year.
T: And what about electricity and water?
A: On my lot I’m not hooked up to the city so I had to get my own electrical and my own water. I dug a well for the water and then for the electrical I had a power line brought in. Most of the heat comes from the fireplaces and so I don’t take a lot of heat or electrical but I do still get some power.
T: Did you have anybody helping you with this, Alex? Or did you do all this work on your own?
A: I wish I could say that. I definitely had so much help. My dad was a contractor in the past. He’s retired now so he was a huge help to help me manage the project and show me the tricks of the trade. I also watched a lot of YouTube videos of how-tos, so those are also helpful. But yeah my dad would basically come in at the beginning of the week and say, “Okay, this is what you are going to be doing for the week. This is how it’s done,” and then leave me to it. I also had some awesome friends that would come and help me move some stuff that was too heavy. To lift up the walls I had a lot of friends come in. I had an army of friends just to lift those walls up. So I was really thankful for that.
T: How much does the house now feel like it has you written all over it? I mean could you see yourself basically selling this one day now that you put your heart and soul – your blood, sweat and tears – into this?
A: My dad’s talked about selling it because it would fetch a good price on the market. I would find it really, really, really hard. Before this point I had always lived in apartments or basements and things like that and now I have my own house with three bedrooms, two baths, my aesthetic, my look. There’s lots of space. And that’s going to be really hard to give up. I’m pretty attached to my fireplaces as well, just to be able to sit with a cup of coffee in front of the fire. Eventually I might sell it; I’m already thinking of different ideas for the next house. But for now I’m really going to try to enjoy it.
T: What were some of the surprises you had along the way? Because I’m sure there were some specific challenges you had to go through. Were there any in particular that came as a surprise to you?
A: I found there to be sexism in the industry. I didn’t think it was going to be that present but I found whenever I would go to Home Hardware with my dad, I would ask the question to the person at the counter and they would respond and look at my dad. There is a belief that a man is going to be in control, that a man is going to be in charge, but it wasn’t the case. This was my project; it was my house. And it was really hard to kind of command that respect from the industry. I found I would slowly pick contractors to help me out that were open to working with a woman and it wasn’t always easy. There were a lot of men in that industry that just trust other men more. I also had a lot of problems with the inspectors and while I think inspectors do a great job and they want you to be safe, I do feel like I was picked on a little bit because I was a young woman building by myself. I found they were triple checking everything I did while a friend down the street who’s building and is at the exact same stages in the house hadn’t seen an inspector in months.
T: And what about on the financing side? What did you face on that front as a young single woman doing this project?
A: Again, no institution wants to give their money to a single woman with only one source of revenue. So my parents are actually funding the house and once it’s done I will have to go to the bank, grab a mortgage and pay it back. Finance was really difficult because I was like, “I’ve got a great job, I can do it for a pretty small amount of money,” like it should be a pretty easy deal for them and nobody really wanted to give me the money. That was really surprising to me at first, so I actually went and complained to the Minister of Housing in the Yukon and she told me, “Well you know if you’re going to complain about this, you might as well join the board of directors for Yukon Housing and make a difference.” And that’s what I did. I joined the Yukon Housing board and one of the things I’m kind of advocating for is that the world is changing. People that are 25 and single – you know we live in a different world than our parents – we can do this on our own. It shouldn’t have an effect. Before at 24 you might already be married and have a kid at that point but now this is happening a lot later so I think the housing committee has to adapt with that reality as well.
T: Alex, remind me again, how old are you?
T: What do you think is the biggest takeaway and the biggest thing people can learn from your experience here?
A: I think one of the biggest things I learned – and it does really relate strongly to SHAD – is that you can do anything you want to as long as you take a step at a time. Whenever I would think of the house as a whole I would get so overwhelmed, but the second I would work on it step by step, piece by piece, that’s when the task didn’t become so daunting and I could just work at it slowly.
T: And what’s the one thing, or maybe a couple of things, that you take back to the Youth Council from this experience because I’m sure there’s a lot of different things that you learned from it?
A: For the Youth Council I think obviously I bring back a lot from the environment perspective but I’m also a bit older than most of the youth on that council – I’m the oldest one there – and I can bring back the challenges of getting a mortgage at my age or that sexism that you’ll encounter in the industry. I bring a bit of a different perspective. I also talk a lot about rural living. I had to bring in my own power. I had to bring in my own sewage system. And it’s too bad. The piece of land that we buy is just as expensive; the taxes we pay are just as expensive, but we have to bring in our own stuff so there’s a bit of an inequality there that I’m trying to advocate for.
T: Alex, thanks for taking the time to share your story of you building this house. It’s quite fascinating to hear you do this.