By Jenn Lin, Alumnus
McDougall’s book will inspire you to get on your feet and change the way you think about our ability to run.
Writing with a fractured and dramatic narrative style, McDougall weaves several stories into one highly climactic ending. He writes about a tribe of runners who live in the Copper Canyons (Northwest Mexico); a series of ultra-marathons and the amazing individuals who run them; and finally, a historic race between old and new, organized by a mysterious man known as Caballo Blanco.
In the process, readers learn about McDougall’s personal struggle with running. (more…)
By Jenn Lin, Alumnus
In July 2010, France ratified a bill titled, “the bill to forbid concealing one’s face in public.” This law is commonly referred to as “the anti-mask law,” or more controversially, “the burqa ban”.
The anti-mask law prohibits the wearing of any face covering that would conceal one’s identity in most public spaces; those who violate this law will be fined up to €150 and will be required to take a citizenship course. Despite the fact that it ultimately impinges upon the freedom of Muslim women to wear what they choose, the issue stands that implementing this law is a matter of security. In a post-9/11 world that has to deal with global terrorism, identity is taken very seriously; wearing anything that hides your identity and refusing to remove it in certain circumstances (e.g. when using a passport to verify your identity at border crossings and at airports) can be considered a threat to state security. Nowadays more countries like France are going ahead and making facial coverings illegal in certain public situations.
Anti-mask laws are not an entirely new phenomenon. In the state of New York, for instance, wearing identity-concealing masks during a public demonstration (a specific setting) has been illegal since 1965. This law mainly applies to members of the Ku Klux Clan who wear white pointy-shaped hats as well as anarchists who wear bandanas. Although there was an attempt to appeal this law in 2004 based on the idea that it violated Klan members’ free speech rights, the judges ruled that it did not.
It is important to note that, unlike the United States, France is a highly secular state. France has committed itself to creating laws without trying to accommodate religion (see: theory of evolution and high school textbook controversy in the US). For instance, in September 2004, the wearing of ‘conspicuous’ religious symbols in French state schools was banned. This includes religious symbols such as Jewish skullcaps, the Muslim headscarf, large Christian crucifixes, and Sikh turbans. In France they call the separation between church and state “la laïcité”, and it is based on a law that dates back to the early 1900s. This commitment to separation is why you are more likely to see a country like France implement legislation such as the anti-mask law and anti-religious symbol law.
An anti-mask law or a law banning religious symbols in schools would be more difficult to pass on a federal level in Canada, given that the right to religious freedom is entrenched within our Constitution – not to mention the right to education and freedom from discrimination. That is not to say that the anti-mask law has not been met with violent opposition in France or that similar legislation is not currently in the making in some Canadian provinces.
In response to the law regarding the banning of religious symbols in public schools, Iraqi militants threatened to kill two French journalists who were being held hostage in Iraq at the time if France did not revoke the law. France stood firm and the militants eventually released the journalists after 124 days.
In Quebec, controversial legislation regarding identity and government services was introduced in March 2010. If passed, it would mean that a person would not receive government services such as education and health care if they chose to conceal their faces. They also would not be able to work in the public sector or do business with government officials unless they removed their coverings. As well, two Muslim women in Quebec have already been expelled from school this year as a consequence of refusing to remove their veils.
To conclude, the issues of identity and security, church and state are complex. The state exists to protect its citizens; however, it cannot do that if citizens themselves refuse to show their faces. But if passing anti-mask laws means that some people lose an aspect of their liberty or their freedom to express their religion – does the state still have that right? Should governments make exceptions? Or should governments adopt France’s motto of la laïcité and maintain a complete separation between church and state? Do you personally agree with the anti-religious symbol law? And finally, will the implementation of these controversial identity laws create peace and safety between people and their governments? Or paradoxically, more conflict?
*** Feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions on the Word website and please remain respectful of other students’ opinions if you do choose to do so. ***
 Braasch, Sarah. “Lift the Veil, See the Light.” The Humanist Magazine. September/October Volume 70: 5. Print.
 Referring to the law as a ‘burqa’ ban is misleading; the law applies to all face coverings, but the media tends to sensationalize matters. Apparently, there is actually no mention of the word ‘burqa’ in the law itself.
 Knief, Amanda. “Liberté, Egalité—de Féministes! – Revealing the Burqa as a Pro-Choice Issue.” The Humanist Magazine. September/October Volume 70: 5. Print.
 “Appeals Court allows N.Y. anti-mask law.” CNN. 24 Jan. 2004. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. <http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/01/20/rights.klan.reut/>
 “French journalists freed in Iraq. BBC News. 13 Dec 2004. Web. 15 Oct. 2010 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4115975.stm>
 “Quebec niqab bill would make Muslim women unveil.” The Toronto Star. 25 Mar. 2010. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. <http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/785036–quebec-niqab-bill-would-make-muslim-women-unveil>
 “Niqab gets 2nd Quebec student expelled.” CBC News. 12 April 2010. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. <http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/04/12/montreal-niqab.html>
By: Jenn Lin, Alumnus
Despite all the political controversy the Olympics has brought to town over the last couple months, I think we can all agree that there was definitely an uplifting wave of comradery and patriotism that swept over a good portion of us Vancouverites. Whether you were taking a walk down a jam-packed Robson street or riding the Skytrain during any given day, you were guaranteed to see at least a dozen pairs of red mitts and hear at least one full-fledged attempt at the Canadian anthem. Witnessing thousands of people cheering in the streets because Canada won a gold medal was just something you didn’t see everyday – etc., etc. To be brief, it was as if the Olympics spontaneously brought out this whole other side to Vancouver that I had never seen before. When people get together with a goal in mind – in this case, to cheer Canada on – great things happen.
Capitalism: A Love Story (120 mins)
Directed & Produced by Michael Moore
Review written by Jenn Lin, Alumnus
It strikes me as obvious that most teenagers will not choose to see this movie on a Friday night. That much is incredibly evident when you realize that it is two hours long and that it does not have any vampires or Transformers in it. And even though the title mentions the words, “love story,” it is more of a tragedy than anything. Yet I feel compelled to write this review because what is said in this documentary affects us all.
By: Jenn Lin, Alumni
A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a CNN blog (via wordpress.com) and saw a headline that read something like, “Organic food not as nutritious and costs more.” Apparently there were studies done to prove that conventionally grown food was just as nutritious as organic food. 90% of the article was devoted to explaining and proving that organic food is not more nutritious and you’re also getting ripped off; but 10% actually noted that indeed, most people would say they don’t buy it because of nutritional value. (more…)
If you’ve read the Editors’ Message in May, you may know that we have recently decided to form a committee. This means that starting in June and continuing on next year, The Word will be run and completed with a project leader, a main editor, our student writers, and several core teams of people, including Promotion, Distribution, Community, Website, Layout Design, Article Hunting, and Media Coverage. If you are ever interested in working for The Word, you only need to e-mail us! A brief summary of the teams’ duties are as follows:
There is no order because they were equally great… well… most of them. :)
- Arguing with each other and blaming each other for mistakes. See “Jenn and Chitha’s Top Ten Editing Screw Ups”
- The first time we ever really “Spread The Word” in a train-like fashion, we spanned the entire length of the cafeteria. And oh, seeing the look on people’s faces.
- One time, this guy came up to me (Chitha) and he said, “OMG! You have recipes now!? I’m going to read The Word all the time now!” That was December.
- Getting better at making it look good… as in… layout design. ;) It was hard cramming everything using the fewest amount of paper possible…
This month, The Word would like two honour two grade 12 students for their work in organizing Pink Shirt Day at Windermere: Nora Tong and Kathy Nguyen.
Here is my interview with Nora and Kathy:
1) Congratulations, how do you feel about winning?
Ever thought about keeping a few chickens in your backyard for fresh eggs? Recently, Vancouver City Council introduced a new policy, which allows residents to keep backyard chickens. There are many cities in the United States and Canada with a similar bylaw, including Seattle, Washington D.C., New York City, and Victoria. Of course, within the bylaws, there are many points to consider. If this proposed bylaw passes, residents are able to raise chickens as early as June. The proposed by-law raises much debate from Vancourites. Some are in favour of this new policy, but some residents and animal welfare groups are against the idea.
by Jenn Lin
Stem-cells have the potential to literally become any type of cell within the body; the very nature of cloning is derivative of these types of cells and can be found in multi-cellular organisms. Scientists have strived to further stem-cell research because it could also lead to “treatments for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s” (Payne, 2009), as well as spinal cord injuries by replacing those damaged or lost brain cells, vital organs, nerve tissue, etc.; the remedies for the aforementioned are all highly sought after. Yet the pursuit of stem-cell research is only one example of how scientific advancement at the disregard for ethics could potentially lead to the most frightening realities of tomorrow; when the preservation of one thing at the destruction of another is at stake, there’s no telling what the repercussions could be – Frankenstein, anyone?
Some of you may have already heard or noticed, but Ms. Devilla has recently left her post as Head Secretary at Windermere. As students who have received her assistance on several occasions (especially with the photocopying machine), as well as her utmost support with The Word, Chitha and I felt that the least we could do to thank her is to interview her! Her joyful spirit and good nature will always be remembered at Windermere. So on behalf of the students and staff at Windermere, thank you Ms. Devilla for all your hard work and I hope you enjoy your new position at the VSB. For the rest of you readers, enjoy!
BBC (UK equivalent to CBC) recently refused to provide the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), which oversees 13 aid organizations, with free airtime for the international humanitarian Gaza charity appeal. The DEC hoped that BBC would follow through on their 1963 agreement to provide such service for relief agencies. Yet their decision was to reject the appeal on the grounds of impartiality and also the uncertainty concerning how they would deliver aid in such “volatile situations” (BBC release).
For argument purposes, Chitha and Jenn have intentionally taken up a side to explore the controversy regarding this topic.
Immorality vs. Neutrality
Jenn: Chitha, have you read the new January 23rd Media Alert on MediaLens.org?
Chitha: Yes, I have.
Jenn: And? What’s your take on it? Is BBC justified in rejecting the appeal or not?
by Jenn Lin, Grade 12
You nominated & you voted. Your Warrior of the Month is… JASON COSTA! Jason was nominated for being “always smiling and being such a positive role model, as well as his involvement in student council.”
From what I’ve learned, at school, Jason Costa is involved in the vocal ensemble, the school planning council, and is president of the student council. Meanwhile in the community, Jason still does a lot of volunteering at his church despite his current disability. He hopes to soon raise awareness in the community about cancer and spinal cord injuries, and help those with similar disability, youth in particular, to cope with it and share his experiences. Jason also loves reading, music, and spending time with friends.
Chitha: Hey, did you hear what happened on Friday?
Jenn: November 23rd Black Friday, you mean? (Black Friday occurs the Friday after every Thanksgiving in the US. It does not occur in Canada.)
Chitha: Yeah. Someone died that day at Walmart in the US because the crowds surged through the doors and trampled over one of the poor workers.
Jenn: Yeah, I heard. My teacher was talking about it in class today too.
Chitha: Oh? What did they say?
by Jenn Lin
This month’s Critical Mass Bike Ride: October 31st, HALLOWEEN NIGHT. 6:00PM at the Vancouver Art Gallery – suit up and ride your bike in your costumes! This is the best Mass of the Year!
Critical Mass has been occurring in places throughout the world since September 1992, the first ride occurring in San Francisco. It was originally called “Commute Clot,” but the name changed to Critical Mass by the time the second ride took place. The new name came from the idea that the bikers, once they reached a big enough mass, would be able to stop traffic completely. A “critical mass” is then achieved. It takes place every last Friday of the month and usually in places where it is evident that more appreciation for bikes is needed on and off the roads. Though it is somtimes negatively called a “rally” or “protest” against drivers and people using cars – the bikers do not purposely do anything to provoke authorities. On the contrary, it is meant to be a fun and peaceful ride.
Below is a journal entry that I wrote back in Grade 11. Hopefully after reading it you will gain some insight to what it is, why people do it, and why I myself enjoy it so much.
I went to my first critical mass on April 25th of 2008. At first I was a bit unsure if it was a good idea to go because I don’t consider myself the best bike rider, but when I arrived at the Vancouver Art Gallery and saw so many bright faces, I was instantly glad that I had gone. The weather was absolutely amazing, and there I was a part of this huge gathering of people that believe in alternative transport and that roads should belong to not only cars, but bikes as well. It was the closest thing to a radical movement I had ever been to and I enjoyed every bit of it.