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REDress Campus Campaign urges move from awareness to action

Awareness has been achieved; now it is time for action.

This was the dominant message of the REDress Campus Campaign at Durham College (DC), a week-long series of events focused on the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirited People (MMIWG2S).

Led by the First Peoples Indigenous Centre (FPIC) at DC and Indigenous Education and Cultural Services at Ontario Tech University, the campaign also brought together community partners including the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, Carea Community Health Centre, The Nourish and Develop Foundation and DC Students Inc.

The week began with the reveal of an installation of red dresses across the college and university’s shared Oshawa campus, each dress symbolizing someone taken by the MMIWG2S crisis. In addition to the dress installation, events were held each day from February 10 to 14, culminating with a memorial march and closing ceremony feast on Friday afternoon.

The campaign was inspired by Métis artist Jaime Black’s The REDress Project, an aesthetic response to the MMIWG2S crisis, which is now a permanent exhibit in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Much like Black’s project, the red dresses installed across DC and Ontario Tech’s shared campus, Ontario Tech’s downtown Oshawa location, and DC’s Whitby campus and Pickering Learning Site, served as a visual reminder of the staggering number of MMIWG2S.

The REDress Campus Campaign included an opening ceremony featuring guest speaker Suzanne Smoke of Alderville First Nation, who is a Women’s Traditional Dancer, speaker, and facilitator, as well as an Anishinaabe Water Walker. On February 11, Kim Wheatley, an Anishinaabe Ojibway Grandmother from Shawanaga First Nation spoke about the connection between violence against women and violence against the land that is causing climate change.

On February 12, the First Peoples Indigenous Centre hosted an arts open house where participants could make a tile necklace to both commemorate MMIWG2S and celebrate the strength and future of Indigenous women, and take part in a traditional beading workshop.

One of the many highlights of the week included the special Global Class conversation held on February 13 between Jaime Black and Cree scholar Karyn Recollet. An associate professor with the University of Toronto’s Women & Gender Studies Institute, Professor Recollet brought the original REDress Project to her university’s downtown campus in 2017. The conversation between the women focused on their work in connection with the crisis of MMIWG2S. A group from the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation also provided a big drum performance to open and close the event.


DC becomes first college in Canada to deliver course through Walls to Bridges program

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that it is the first college in Canada to provide college courses in prison through the Walls to Bridges (W2B) education program, which facilitates for-credit post-secondary courses taught within correctional settings. Each W2B classroom sees equal numbers of incarcerated and non-incarcerated students learning together as peers.

This semester, DC Professor Dale Burt is teaching Resiliency in Society: the Bridges and Barriers at a federal correctional institution in Ontario. Each week she travels to the prison with eight DC students who are taking the class alongside eight currently incarcerated students.

“The Walls to Bridges classroom offers a unique transformational learning experience that encourages diverse learners to build bridges with one another, recognizing that there are many ways of ‘knowing,’ including from each other and our experiences,” said Professor Burt. “I structure and lead the lessons and facilitate the learning activities, but we are really all students and teachers in the W2B classroom. Together we are able to break down barriers as we examine – and unlearn – assumptions and ‘othering.’”

The participating DC students are enrolled in either Mediation – Alternative Dispute Resolution or Victimology, two of the college’s post-graduate certificate programs. Each student had to apply and be interviewed in order to be accepted into the W2B course.

“Taking part in the Walls to Bridges program is important to Durham College for many reasons,” said Stephanie Ball, executive dean of the college’s schools of Justice & Emergency Services and Interdisciplinary Studies. “The environment and dynamics of the class make for a more impactful learning experience for all students while also providing access to post-secondary education for learners who may not have had access to it otherwise.”

The final class will be held at the prison on Wednesday, April 15. Students will present a collaborative project on what they have learned through the course followed by a graduation ceremony.


DC student, alumnus and faculty member travel to Rome, Italy for health care technology conference

Durham College’s (DC) health care programs were well-represented on the world stage last month when a DC student, alumnus and faculty member traveled to Rome, Italy to speak at the Third International Clinical Engineering and Health Technology Management Congress, organized by the International Federation of Medical and Biological Engineering.

From the Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management (BHCTM) program, second-year student Jessica Metcalfe presented her poster “Student point-of-view: healthcare technology management, a layman’s definition” in the Education, Certification, and Training session, while faculty member Abdelbaset Khalaf spoke in two sessions on the development of health care management technology, one of which was featured as a conference highlight. In both sessions he spoke about the BHCTM program, including the success of its launch and future plans, which was well-received by the audience.

Oem Dave, a Biomedical Engineering Technology grad, also showcased his research from the electrocardiogram capstone project through a poster presentation at the conference.

The conference was attended by 800 delegates from 62 countries and of the eight speakers from Canada and three were from DC. This is the first time that the BHCTM program has been represented at a global event, and Abdelbaset is already preparing students and faculty to take part in the fourth congress in the U.S. in 2021.


DC students and faculty travel to Guatemala to support the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals

On Friday, October 4, students and faculty from Durham College’s (DC) School of Media, Art & Design will travel for ten days to rural regions of Guatemala as part of a new digital storytelling program, called Youth United 2030, contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The program is being delivered in partnership with a Canadian charity, Students Offering Support (SOS), which has facilitated youth service-learning programs throughout Latin America since 2008.

With the support of faculty member, and former CBC journalist, Danielle Harder, students from DC’s Video Production and Journalism – Mass Media/Journalism programs are part of a faculty-led classroom abroad, where they will utilize the skills learned in their programs to deliver interactive training workshops for 35 low-income Guatemalan youth to learn about using digital storytelling techniques as a tool for change. In addition to delivering workshops participants have fundraised to donate iPads so youth participants from the host communities will have access to technology to put the training into action. A second cohort of DC students will be travelling to Guatemala in February, alongside Harder, to deliver follow-up training opportunities, and continue producing new media content, as part of the ongoing program.

Upon the students’ return from Guatemala, the students will turn their interviews and video footage into short documentaries offering cross-cultural perspectives on the SDGs.

“Youth United is all about reciprocal exchange. It empowers Durham College students to build their cross-cultural competencies alongside their technical skills, while experiencing how the knowledge they’re learning through their studies can make a difference on issues that matter,” said Harder. She and her students recently won an international PIEoneer Award for real-life learning for a film project in 2018 that engaged them in global issues through documenting a development program led by Canadian colleges in Kenya.

DC and SOS began working together after a connection was forged at a National conference co-organized by Academica and Academics Without Borders, called “Reaching Across Borders, Building a Better World”.  Lisa Shepard, DC’s dean of International Education, had this to say about the new program: “We believe in global competency as a critical 21st-century learning skill. Durham College supports education abroad initiatives such as faculty-led classrooms abroad, which provide opportunities for students to expand their learning beyond their traditional classrooms by taking part in an international learning experience. At Durham College we embed internalization in everything we do, both by bringing the world to DC, and by bringing DC to the world. Our students are so excited to meet their Guatemalan counterparts and have already learned so much”.

James Arron, executive director of SOS echoed the importance of the educational sector’s role in achieving the SDGs. “By linking together the needs of our Guatemalan partners and capacity of Durham College, we have been able to create a truly win-win solution for everyone involved. It’s a great example of how the post-secondary sector can be a leader in helping achieve the SDGs. Kudos to Durham College for stepping up as a pioneer in that movement.”