Nanaimo This Week: Dover Bay Secondary students learn about local media

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This week I had a great time speaking with Alistair King’s Grade 12 political studies class at Dover Bay via Zoom. It brought me back to my days as one of the founding editors of The Mind’s Eye newspaper, a publication for youth that I helped start in the late ‘90s. It ran as an insert in the Nanaimo Daily News and in all the high schools, and for me and several other reporters, was our start in a media career.

The class had already discussed media literacy and the role of media in a democracy, and I was there as a guest speaker to discuss many different aspects of working in media. I talked to them about The Discourse’s vision for rebuilding local news, touched on some of our various guiding principles and answered their incredibly insightful questions.

Alistair says his vision for the students was to teach the kids about municipal affairs, and then get them to ask questions which would lead to further research. 

Some of these questions included: How has being in media has impacted my worldview? How has The Discourse affected Nanaimo on a community level thus far? How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected my working life? Which is more important, local news or national news? How do I ensure my own reporting is accurate?

It was heartening to see such an engaged class. The next step is that they identify a topic of interest to them and the local community, so they can write an article of their own, “emulating to the best of their ability the work you are doing at The Discourse,” he added. I asked to select a few of the stories to share in a subsequent newsletter, so stay tuned for those.

He also sent this note: “Thank you so much for taking the time on Tuesday to speak with my kids about your work. They were buzzing afterwards! If nothing else, you’ve inspired me to incorporate The Discourse into my teaching plan for Political Studies 12 moving forward. I think it’s that important! I’m sure you’ve also sparked an interest in journalism with some of my creative writers.”

Good news

The music of Nanaimo’s own Allison Crowe will be featured in the much-anticipated upcoming director’s cut version of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

The story behind the film, which was extensively detailed in this month’s Vanity Fair, goes back to 2017. While in the midst of an intense conflict with Warner Bros. over the fate of his big-budget superhero film, Snyder’s daughter Autumn took her own life.

“As a friend of the family, I was absolutely heartbroken when I heard of Autumn’s passing,” says Allison via email, who now lives in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and had a small part in Snyder’s 2013 film Man of Steel, performing Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire. “They are such kind and loving people, and I’m glad I was able to provide at least some small comfort through music during such a devastating time.”

A closeup of a woman with green eyes, eyeliner and strawberry blonde curls.
Local singer/musician Allison Crowe now works in Newfoundland as a composer, arranger, audio engineer and producer but regularly returns to her hometown to perform her Tidings Christmas fundraiser concert. Photo submitted by Adrian du Plessis

According to the piece in Vanity Fair, the inclusion of Allison’s music was part of Snyder’s push to layer “some deeply personal elements” into the film. 

The movie closes with Allison’s well-known version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, a favourite of Autumn’s that she sung at her funeral.

“When it comes to this song, movie, and family – it’s also heart-breaking in its own reality,” said Allison’s manager Adrian du Plessis. “Through years of grieving and looking for ways to do something that honours Autumn, and helps others, there is now some sense of moving forward and remembering, for all involved.”

The director’s cut of Justice League will stream on March 18 on HBO Max.

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Allison Crowe (middle) with Zack and Deborah Snyder after the New York premiere of Man of Steel in 2013. Photo submitted by Adrian du Plessis

In other news 

A new open-source educational resource looks at British Columbia’s long history of racist policies and the resiliency of the many Indigenous, Black and racialized people who have been affected, IndigiNews reports. “One of our guiding objectives was that we hoped this would be useful for teachers to support the K-12 Indigenization process,” says Christine O’Bonsawin, a historian from the Abenaki, Odanak Nation

Challenging Racist “British Columbia”: 150 Years and Counting is available online and is co-published by the University of Victoria (UVic) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

Community shout-outs

  • Last week, Nanaimo’s Dodd’s Furniture partnered with the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition to collect and distribute winter coats for people experiencing homelessness in the city via partner agencies like Society for Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy (SEIA) and the 7-10 Club. More than 40 coats have been collected so far. Anyone wanting to donate gently used winter coats and other winter items such as hats, scarves and gloves, can drop them off at Dodd’s Furniture, 4900 Uplands Drive. 
  • The Nanaimo Homeless Coalition have also partnered with United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island, the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, SEIA, and the 7-10 Club to open two warming centres in Nanaimo.
  • A site along Nicol Street is one step closer to becoming a supportive housing site after Nanaimo city council approved three readings of a development permit at Monday’s council meeting, reports Nanaimo News Now. The complex, one of two supportive housing projects slated for Nicol Street, will be built by BC Housing. Its 59 units will be operated by the Island Crisis Care Society.
  • The Mid-Island Metis Nation and the Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre sounded the alarm in a joint press release on Feb. 22 about the upcoming closure of two urban Indigenous learning centres in Nanaimo, the Nisaika Kum’tuks Learning Centre and and the Tsawalk Learning Centre. As a result of their advocacy, the two learning programs will continue to operate in some capacity, though a change in operating structure is underway. 
  • The Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre are looking for gently used small tents, mens footwear, hoodies and sweatpants to hand out to youth through their mobile youth outreach program.  If you have one/some to donate send them an email.

What’s going on?

  • Thursday, Feb. 26: Fairy Creek Blockade are hosting a protest in Victoria against the logging of old growth forests.

  • Now until Feb. 28: Last chance to check out local artist Moufette/Shawnda Wilson’s pen and watercolour paintings in the Nanaimo Museum’s first community gallery exhibit of 2021. “When Charles Speaks” was inspired and influenced by the music of jazz musician Charles Mingus, and focuses on the jacana—a tropical wading bird known for its long toes. Wilson’s next exhibit of tropical wallpaper opens March 1 at Jonny the Barber’s on Wesley Street.

  • Thursday and Friday, March 4 and 5: Is there a vaccine for the infodemic? The University of British Columbia’s Roger W. Gale Symposium presents The Misinformation Age, an online event with expert speakers looking at fake news, conspiracy theories, and misinformation. 

  • March 12 to 20: The Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society (CVIMS) in partnership with the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation present the 2021 Anti-Racism Arts Festival, with free events both online and in-person.

    Join us 

    Some of you may remember our Newsthinking event late last year, where we invited you to help shape The Discourse Nanaimo and inform our editorial agenda. It was a great success, and many of you said you’d like to see more public newsrooms like this that bring people together in an uplifting and constructive way. We’re happy to announce we’ve created the next best thing: The Discourse Nanaimo Facebook group. Join us to share your ideas, feedback and suggestions and contribute to community-powered, in-depth local news by and for the people of Nanaimo. Help us spread the word by inviting others to join.

    In your words

    “And The Discourse kills it again as a quality resource.” 

    John H. wrote on Facebook in response to the first in our solutions series Making Rent.

    Thanks John!  [end]

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