Campus Beat

University Center welcomed owls from the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre

Four owls stopped for a daylong visit in University Center last week, in order to help promote the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre, a non-profit organization that rescues, rehabilitates and re-releases wildlife from all over Manitoba.

Taylor Carey, the centre supervisor, said that the centre has been around for 26 years and admits over 1,600 birds, mammals and reptiles each year. Last year, the organization, which is run entirely by volunteers, admitted 1,713 animals.

According to Carey, the owls are part of an education program under which the organization takes their seven non-releasable raptors to schools, community groups and public events to promote awareness about wildlife conservation.

“We had four of our education ambassadors with us: Max, a male great horned owl; R2, a male red-tailed hawk; Luna, a female barn owl; and Kricket, a female American kestrel, which is a type of falcon,” said Carey.

Carey said besides raising awareness, the purpose of the visit was to recruit spring and summer Green Team employees and year-round volunteers.

Engineering atrium houses makeshift shantytown

Students walking through the engineering atrium last week could not help but pass by a makeshift shantytown built by Engineers Without Borders (EWB) as part of International Development Week.

Giles Smalley, a member of EWB and the project’s chief carpenter, said that the purpose of the display was largely to foster conversation, which he believes is the first step to making change.

“We hope to have conversations with others that will ignite a spark in their minds and hearts and give them the opportunity to talk about what they think some of the problem may be,” he said.

Smalley said he hopes the building would shock students by helping them imagine the harsh living conditions that so many people have to endure.
The project was a group effort by the U of M and the University of Winnipeg EWB student groups. Volunteers from the two EWB chapters spent a full day constructing the building.

Smalley said that the main goal in the construction was to build only with materials the group could find, which reflects the reality of many of the homes built by those living in poverty.

“This is not to take away from the creativity and ingenuity of people living in these conditions around the world but rather bring attention to the limitations that many people face in the developing world.”

David Arenas, a member of EWB, said that despite the extreme poverty faced by people living in refugee camps, shantytowns or rural villages, the human capabilities should not be underestimated.

“We [at EWB] seek to increase the capabilities of people in Africa, rather than handing them out money or technology, which is alien to their social, cultural, economic and political realities,” he said.

Arenas said he believes the group has achieved their goal, as the shantytown received a great response from faculty, staff and students, some of them being international students who had relevant experiences to share.

U of M to play lead role in setting American Sign Language standards

The University of Manitoba is taking part in a project to develop American Sign Language (ASL) content standards for students from kindergarten to grade twelve.

ASL is the most prominent form of sign language used by hearing impaired Americans and English-speaking Canadians. According to Gallaudet University, one of the world’s top universities for deaf and hard of hearing students, ASL is the third most used language in the U.S after English and Spanish.

The Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, located at Gallaudet University in Florida, will be heading this new project. The content standards developed will outline the ASL skills that students should have at each grade level, which will give teachers a guide in planning their instructions.

According to U of M officials, the linguistics department at the U of M has been chosen to participate in the project because of its expertise in deaf education, language and literacy development and ASL assessment.

Professor Erin Wilkinson, a deaf linguist at the U of M, has played a leading role, as she has headed a research program that seeks to unveil the commonalities between signed languages and spoken languages.

The project is set to be completed in early 2013, at which point the ASL content standards will be revealed.

U of M student an official advocate for the Festival du Voyageur

Reanne Chamberland, a student at the University of Manitoba, is part of the official family of the Festival du Voyageur, which runs from Feb. 18-27 this year.
Chamberland, a second-year student at the U of M, said that the festival has always played a big role in her life. Since she was young, her and her parents have been heavily involved in helping out with the festival.

This year, her family is the official voyageur family, making them the ambassadors of the festival. Their role is to promote the festival at various events in Manitoba as well as at festivals in the U.S. all year long.

Aside from being a chance to enjoy time outside during the winter, Chamberland said the festival showcases history, music, snow sculptures and a diverse range of activities for everyone.

“If that isn’t convincing enough, there is also the snow bar where you can drink Caribou in ice glasses. You can’t explain the joie de vivre and spirit of the festival without experiencing it yourself,” she said.

The festivities take place in Voyageur Park on Provencher Boulevard as well as at other festival sites around Winnipeg and in La Broquerie, Man.

Students travel to El Salvador with the U of M’s Alternative Spring Break program

Two small communities in El Salvador will welcome University of Manitoba students during the February break, as part of the Alternative Spring Break trip offered at the U of M.

The Office of Student Life and UMSU came together in 2008 to brainstorm a service learning program. There are ten participants this year, which is the third year of the Alternative Spring Break program.

The university has an ongoing relationship with two small communities in El Salvador, and each year, the communities identify an area that they would like assistance with. The program is built from that point.

“Santa Catarina Masahuat and El Escalon are active partners in the program from start to finish,” said Meghan Laube, assistant director, Housing & Student Life. “The communities are so proud of the programs because they are the ones that identified the need, and together with our partner agency in country, we discuss the most appropriate solutions, “ said Laube.

Students will travel to rural El Salvador where they will focus their work on El Escalon School, an institute which doubles as an emergency relief centre in times of disaster, according to Laube.

The Alternative Spring Break trip is subsidized by Student Life, UMSU and a program fee from students. Students are also encouraged to fundraise as a group. According to Laube, this year the group also received a substantial donation from the MCIC Community Solidarity Fund.

Laube said the trip proves valuable to students academically and as a means of fostering global citizenship. The trip also allows students to establish friendships across borders and to work together towards a common goal of building the capacity of people and communities.

Deanna Mirlycourtois, a first-year student at the U of M, said she chose to participate in the trip in order to gain first-hand exposure to a developing country in need.

“I am most excited about connecting with members of the Santa Catarina community, learning about the culture of El Salvador and utilizing my Spanish language skills in the process of doing so,” she said.

Participants will spend two weeks in El Salvador, beginning on Feb. 12.

Whipped cream cans to be wielded for a good cause this week

Students and staff in the faculty of engineering are under the constant threat of getting pied in the face this week, in the name of the Great Engineering Pi-Throw, happening between Feb. 14-18.

Anyone can participate in the event by stopping at the University of Manitoba’s Engineering Society (UMES) pie booth.

The request will cost $5 and will require the name and location of the person who will receive the pie. Someone from the “pi squad” will then appear at the prescribed location and inform the person that they have had a pie sent to them.
According to Derek Neufeld, the senior stick of UMES, the “pi-ees” are then faced with three options.

“They can choose to take the pie in the face, re-direct it to someone else for $5 or neutralize the pie for $10.  We also set target income levels, so if students raise $1,000, I get pied; $1,500 we pie the president of UMSU; $2,000 we pie our dean; or at $2,500 we pie the president of the U of M,” he said.

Pi-Throw is a decade old tradition in engineering faculties across Canada. Besides getting a kick out of seeing people pied in the face, the purpose of the event is to raise funds for a charitable cause.

Last year, the group donated just under $3,000 to Habitat for Humanity. This year, the group has chosen to donate the collected money to the Canadian Red Cross.

Neufeld, who has been volunteering with the Pi-throw for the past four years, said he thinks the Pi-throw is an important tradition for the faculty to carry on.
“It upholds the work hard, play hard attitude that engineering is renowned for,” he said.

Neufeld has found that although the pies are usually received with good humor.
“The majority of the professors absolutely love it and are more than happy to give us five minutes at the beginning of their class,” said Neufeld, “In the last couple years we have even had a couple professors pay to pie their entire first year class!”