Prison isn’t meant to be a picnic — we get it. But still, something seems to happen to human beings when you put them into a cage. It creates a whole new kind of sub-society with rules that amount to the law of the jungle on steroids. Instead of right and wrong, you end up with wrong and horrifying.
Land of the silver birch, Home of the beaver…
The words are familiar to generations of schoolchildren, trotted out with Ian Tyson’s Four Strong Winds and other Canadiana in elementary schools and summer camps across the country for decades.
Times have changed. Violet Shearer, a music teacher at High Park Alternative Public School, included the song in a school concert in May 2016. About two weeks later, after some parents allegedly expressed concerns, the school’s principal and vice-principal sent out an email to the entire school community denouncing the song, which they called inappropriate and racist. As reported in The Toronto Star, the email claimed, in part, “While its lyrics are not overtly racist…the historical context of the song is racist.”
In Toronto, recent headlines and casual observation tell us that visible minorities now make up the majority of the population. If you perused group pictures of the board of directors of Toronto’s major mainstream arts organizations, however, you might be forgiven for wondering whether the headlines were an exaggeration. When it comes to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), Canadian Opera Company (COC), Tafelmusik, Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), and The National Ballet of Canada, overall board members are still largely white, and in some cases, still largely male.
Black Panther doesn’t hit American movie screens until February 16, 2018, but it’s been one of the most highly anticipated entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever. From the trailers released so far, fans are looking forward to a world of ultra-cool tech, compelling characters, and naturally, loads of high-octane action. The movie focuses on T’Challa, the Black Panther, as he faces the task of uniting his nation and plotting its future course after his father’s death. Wakanda is a hidden African nation with superior technology and vast wealth, and there are competitors for its throne.
From the floor shaking low rumble of a 32-foot stop to the soaring notes of strings and even the delicate trill of a bird, there is nothing that really compares in sheer scale and range with a pipe organ. Toronto is home to a wealth of pipe organs of varying sizes and types, such as the Warren tracker organ at St. Michael’s Cathedral or the pretty instrument at the St. James Cathedral downtown. More than just individual instruments, they are part of the city’s history.
Celebrities — do we love them or hate them? They live their fabulous, Instagram-worthy lives far out of our reach, with more money, gadgets, and everything that you could want. Is it so much, then to ask for a little payback? Or at least, recognition of how lucky they are?