Canada’s breakthrough designer has a lot of “heart and soul”

April 13, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Mabaquiao's garment that won him the title as Canada's breakthrough designer is a silver sequined dress. (Photo provided by Earl Mabaquiao).

Earl Mabaquiao, third year fashion design student, is the first person to win the Télio Design Competition in Montréal who isn't from Quebec. (Photo by Miranda Gathercole).

Earl Mabaquiao’s recent success as “Canada’s breakthrough designer” at the Télio Design Competition in the Montréal Fashion Week wasn’t just a blockbuster break through for Kwantlen. It was triumph for all of Western Canada.

Mabaquiao was the first winner in the competition’s history to come from outside of the city where it is held each year.

“They called fifth place and then fourth place and I was like ‘Oh, can I just be third, I’ll just take third’ and then second and then I was like ‘Okay, there is no more positions… there’s one more position,’” said Mabaquiao, who is originally from the Philippines and has been in Canada since he was 12.

The competition, which is put on by the Télio textile company, is currently the biggest and one of the most prestigious student design competitions in Canada.

From the 21 fashion design programs across the nation, each school submits its top seven ideas for a clothing design from second- and third-year students to Télio, which then chooses the top 25.

This time around, Kwantlen had three students reach that stage.

Last year, Mabaquiao tried to make the competition as well, but didn’t even manage to make Kwantlen’s selected seven. But someone who continued to believe in Mabaquiao’s “inner light,” was his teacher and coordinator of the fashion design program, Evelyn May.

Mabaquiao's attention to detail, like his work on the back pocket of these jeans, is one of the things that makes him such a dynamic, young designer. (Photo by Miranda Gathercole).

“Everyone is different,” she said. “But I think for him, every piece he does is not just an assignment. He puts more of himself into his work and his philosophy.

“One thing I’m really proud of with Earl, especially with him placing first, is that we, all the faculty, were very ethical in the production of his design. We did not help him, we did not touch his design… he did it himself.”

One of the biggest challenges that Mabaquiao had to face was the amount of time that went into planning and making his garment.

“I have a lot of friends that are really talented that didn’t do it because there is no time,” he said.

Mabaquiao shows off a few pieces of his work. (Photo by Miranda Gathercole).

It took Mabaquiao two months, outside of the already hard work that he puts into his school assignments, to create the silver sequined dress that stole the show.

May said its Mabaquiao’s continual dedication and diligence to each piece that he puts his hands on that makes him unique.

“He doesn’t do an assignment just to get it done… never does he do that. Everything is special to him and that’s what makes him special.”

For Mabaquiao, winning on Feb. 10 wasn’t just about the satisfaction of becoming number one in the country, but about being the creator behind something that attracted so much attention. To him, that is the beauty of his craft.

“Creating something new, that would surprise someone or that would shock someone else you know… being innovative and creative, that’s the best part I think of designing.”

Kwantlen Eagles vs. Douglas Royals

February 18, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Tune in to live coverage as your Kwantlen Eagles face off against the Douglas Royals. Josh Saggau and Lucas Meneses-Skoda bring you the Women’s game live at 6 and the Men’s at 8. Catch it all here:

NOTE: When the player first launches, you will be subjected to a short ad. The audio play-by-play will commence after the ad ends.

Year of the rabbit emotional time for Chinese student group leader

February 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Elaine Wang wears the colour red, a symbol of luck, for her mother who was born in year of the rabbit. Photo by Miranda Gathercole.

For one Kwantlen student, welcoming the Year of the Rabbit was emotional in a different way than usual.

Elaine Wang, president of the Chinese Student Association, celebrated the most important Chinese festival away from her family for the first time in her life.

“It makes me want to cry,” she said. “I got up earlier and [Skyped] with my family and we count down together.”

Wang immigrated to Canada less than a year and a half ago to study at Kwantlen, while living with her uncle in Richmond.

For Wang, this Chinese New Year spent away from family in China marked an opportunity to work with the KSA and open up Chinese culture to the students of Kwantlen. Wang says that it is also a way to bring a sense of community to other Chinese students who might be missing family back in China.

“Kwantlen is just like a home for us… Kwantlen is big family for us. So, we want the students to feel less lonely,” she said. “They are not alone, they are with us… we are all family members in continent.”

The group set up tables and handed out pork buns and sweet treats, traditional Chinese delicacies which are often eaten in the celebration of the New Year, to students at the Richmond, Surrey and Langley campuses on Feb. 3.

“We tried to choose items that would respect the traditional Chinese New Year aspect of it and something that all students could eat and try,” said Reena Bali, director of events and student life for the KSA.

Lesha Ghirra, left, and Sarah El Bakkouri volunteer with the KSA to hand out BBQ pork buns, green tea-flavoured desserts and peanut-flavoured desserts to Kwantlen students at the Richmond campus. Photo by Miranda Gathercole.

Although Wang is happy to spend the celebration of the Year of the Rabbit in Vancouver with her friends and her uncle, it is difficult for her to be without her parents at a time that is “just like Christmas in Canada.”

“Yesterday, I even worked last night. I work at a restaurant and I see a lot of families who are immigrants. They get together and they celebrated… and the parents gave children red envelopes. I felt so sad because I was all alone here.”

In China, red envelopes, which usually contain money, are given by elders to children and family members to represent good fortune to come in the New Year.

“My grandfather said ‘I will keep the red envelope for you. If you go back China, I will give you,’ so it make me very happy,” she said.

Nicole Joe, Richmond representative for the KSA, hands out tradition Chinese treats in the rotunda at the Richmond campus on Feb. 3. Photo by Miranda Gathercole.

Kwantlen emerges as leader in energy conservation

December 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Kwantlen is shooting well under par in a game it is becoming very good at.

According to an article in Metro, “Kwantlen’s campuses use 40 per cent less energy than the typical college and 66 per cent less energy than the average university in Canada.”

Recently, Kwantlen was awarded with a 2010 BC Hydro Power Smart Leadership Excellence award for its continuing success in energy management and conservation. This is the fifth time BC Hydro has recognized Kwantlen’s involvement in energy conservation and the third year in a row it has been acknowledged with the leadership excellence award.

Kwantlen was only one of 13 other organizations in B.C to be a recipient of the award in 2010. The award recognizes organizations that have been geared towards energy savings year-over-year and continue to strive towards more savings.

“It actually becomes kind of fun. It’s like when you get better and better at a video game… you know you want to go to the next level,” said Karen Hear, executive director of facilities management at Kwantlen.

Hearn says that a huge part of the success has come not only out of her contributions, but those of the entire Kwantlen team.

“I think because we’re taken an approach that ‘We is smarter than Me’ and tried to involve a great number of stakeholders, from our service suppliers to our maintenance contractors to our in-house personnel. Everything from security officers to janitors, involving them all… they’re part of it.”

According to Metro, Kwantlen’s energy saving efforts over the past 10 years are enough to power over 4,100 homes for a year, which has also resulted in the big savings on utility costs.

For Hearn, this is major part of the big picture.

“We really want to be conscious of, one, reducing our impact on the environment, but at the same time saving money,” she said.

“Basically our costs for utilities, that’s water, natural gas and electricity, in 2001 at that point our budget was about $1.4 million. We were about 850,000 square feet. We are now 1.1 million square feet, plus or minus a slight bit, and our utilities budget this year is about $1.43 million.”

Kwantlen has been innovative with the way it is going about conserving the amounts of energy. Recently, a new system was introduced to minimize the amount of kitchen exhaust. Instead of having the exhaust fans above the grills in kitchen going all the time, Hearn and her team came up with the idea to installation of variable speed drives that work like an accelerator in a car depending on the amount of smoke and heat in the air. Now, when the grill is being used a lot, the fan speeds up, but when it isn’t, it automatically slows down to a minimum speed.

“We have tried to be very creative that whenever we are doing a renovation or a system upgrade or new building construction, we try to take that opportunity to look at what are some very creative ways that we can minimize the amount of energy that is required in support of the facility,” said Hearn.

The next project that her and the facilities management department are focused on is what Hearn refers to as the Awareness Program, which will be aimed more at ensuring students are being guided to helping making Kwantlen more environmentally friendly and identifying what a student can do on an individual level to help.

More information on Kwantlen’s energy and environmental management and its action plans and records can be found at the college’s sustainability web site.

New Cultural Studies course takes on the graphic novel

December 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The Cultural Studies department is introducing its new course to be taught on Richmond campus in the spring semester. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda).

Kwantlen is introducing a new course and the Richmond campus has earned dibs.

Starting in the spring of 2011, CUST 3340 Graphic Novel as Cultural Product will be added to the Cultural Studies timetable in the hope that it will attract new, curious students to the department.

The course will study graphic novels as an expression of pop culture in today’s society. “Students will examine the unique manner in which comics communicate and be encouraged to analyze examples rigorously in both formal and narrative terms,” states the description of the course on the Kwantlen website.

Class work and assignments will include “ongoing forum posting, short formal analytic response papers and a creative term project suiting each student’s individual interests and talents.”

Nicely enough, CUST 3340 does not require too many prerequisites, as do some of the other 3000-level Cultural Studies classes, making it easily accessible for students. Pre-reqs are the completion of ENGL 1100, one of ENGL 1202, ENGL 1204, CRWR 1100, FINA 1100, FINA 1165 or FINA 1167, and another three credits from any 2000-level course or higher.

Students around the Richmond campus have said that although it may not be of direct interest to them, they can see it being a big hit with others.

“I wouldn’t personally take it because I don’t like graphic novels… I prefer reading a novel, but I think there are a lot of people that really would like to take it. A lot of my friends love graphic novels and stuff so I think they would enjoy it,” said Amanda Wood, who studies psychology.

The response from Kimberley Parker, a fashion design student, was similar. “It sounds like an interesting course… not necessarily something I would take, but I think probably there would be people who would be interested in it.”

Other posters have been placed over the Richmond campus to publicize what the Cultural Studies department has to offer. (Photo by: Lucas Meneses-Skoda).

There have also been posters promoting other Cultural Studies courses around the Richmond campus, such as German Culture through Film, which was last taught in the fall of 2009 and will also be available to students in the spring semester.

Monster Ball dance had potential

November 15, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Although the KSA was serving $3 Heinekens and Canadians, the turn out was poor on Nov. 9 at the Monster Ball dance, held on the Richmond Campus. (Photo by Lucas Meneses-Skoda)

By Stuart Gallacher and Lucas Meneses-Skoda

Three-dollar beers and an empty dance floor? Preposterous.

On Oct. 9, the KSA hosted a Lady Gaga-themed “Monster Ball” dance in the Conference Centre on the Richmond campus, which sadly suffered from a lacklustre crowd.

With professional lighting and a live DJ, free cans of Coke and bottled water on top of $3 cans of Molson Canadian and Heineken, the KSA did well in providing what had the potential to be a wild Tuesday night.

Perhaps students don’t see Richmond as the campus for extra-curricular activities or social events. Perhaps Kwantlen students have a poor outlook of the KSA. Either way, the effort to bring the student body together outside of class was there.

Just before Halloween, the KSA organized a similar event on the Surrey campus and filled the venue.

The event brought out few people, but for those who showed up, the 'night out' mood was still in the air. (Photo by: Lucas Meneses-Skoda).

“Well, in the end, the reason I feel a lot of people aren’t showing up is not because the promotions are wrong, it’s not because the setup is bad, it’s not because the alcohol is overly priced or anything along those lines,” said Luke Arathoon, Kwantlen’s Volunteer Co-ordinator.

“To me, personally, I think the Richmond Kwantlen campus has a different culture and a different feel to it, than say a campus like Surrey.”

Unfortunately, it seems like Kwantlen students think that “good” events can only happen at the “good” campus. For the KSA, this has become a frustrating issue. The KSA is eager to cultivate a social vibe, but it is difficult when the student body doesn’t show enthusiasm.

“I didn’t want to go, because I didn’t think anyone else was going. I didn’t want to be the only person there,” said Sarena Mann, 20, who studies general arts.

“I think [the KSA] has done a really bad job of making the Richmond campus a student community. People come here just to study and that’s it,” said Jonathan Hubele, who studies accounting.

Arathoon says that for years, students have nagged the KSA for a school dance.

Apart from the dance floor, there was a section of with tables and chairs where students could enjoy their drinks and relax. (Photo by: Lucas Meneses-Skoda).

“I think there is a big disconnect between complaining and giving valid criticism. You know, like constructive criticism, versus like ‘Oh well, the KSA doesn’t do anything for me.’”

Arathoon hopes that students will change the way they think about these events, and help to build more optimism around the campus.

If negativity leads to more negativity, then the opposite must be true as well. Essentially, the more students who approach these events with an open mind, the more likely they are to thrive.

The fact is, school is meant to be a social environment, and we’re all interested in hanging out and letting loose. So the next time there’s a dance, shindig or celebration, don’t ask questions — make a point of going with your party hat on and leaving your study cap at home.

Fashion isn’t all glamour

November 1, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Andee Jasper, third-year Kwantlen fashion design student, models examples of her work. Photo by: Lucas Meneses-Skoda

Fashion is not all glitter and glamour at Kwantlen. Andee Jasper, a third-year fashion design student, has learned that becoming a fashion designer isn’t as easy as it was fantasizing about.

“Coming into the program was an eye-shocker. It’s marketing… You don’t just make a pretty gown and put it on a model and take a picture and think you’re a designer,” said the 20-year-old Jasper.

“It’s one thing for me to be like, ‘Oh that dress is pretty, lets make it,’ and its another thing for me to be like, ‘How can my target market wear this, and where’s she going to wear it to, and how much is she willing to pay.’”

Kwantlen’s Bachelor of Design, Fashion & Technology program is the only one of its kind in western Canada and has become known as a prominent stepping-stone to get eager students into the industry.

“Kwantlen is known for their niche markets… and that’s why we get jobs and that’s why we start our own businesses,” she said.

Jasper defines a niche market as: “finding a really small market, like a specific target market and selling your clothes to those types of people.”

Throughout the four-year degree program, fashion students acquire the marketing and production that lead to The Show, which is put on by all fourth-year students at the River Rock Casino Resort Theatre and which attracts hundreds of employers in the Vancouver fashion scene.

“Everything we learn goes into fourth year,” Jasper said.

“I think a lot of people who like fashion, its typically what they think, like, ‘Oh its so easy, I can draw and I can sew and make things like pretty things.’ But its like no… reality hits you and you’re like ‘shit.’ You get to do pattern-making and things from all aspects, so its eye-opening that way… the amount of work that goes into producing garments.”

Jasper’s career goal is to start her own clothing line, common to many aspiring fashion designers, but from her experience at Kwantlen, has understood that it won’t happen right out of university.

“I know the amount of work that goes into it… so I’ll slowly build up to it,” she said.

For now, Jasper continues to work hard, spending almost her entire days at the Richmond Campus in the design classrooms or the computer lab, and preparing for her internship next semester.

“It seems like a lot of hard work, and yeah, it’s really tedious sometimes, but you’re still doing what you love.”

Live coverage: Kwantlen Eagles basketball

October 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Lucas Meneses-Skoda and Steve Maisey provide live play-by-play of Friday’s basketball game between the Kwantlen Eagles mens team and the Northwest Indian College, starting at 7 p.m.

Kwantlen, Simply Computing team up to bring new store to Surrey campus

October 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Photo by Max Hirtz

Kwantlen is about to become a little more Mac-friendly, with an Apple retailer will begin operating out of Kwantlen Surrey’s bookstore at the end of October.

Students and staff will be able to take advantage of educational discounts on Apple products as well as software by Adobe and Microsoft, offered by Simply Computing

Kwantlen students have mixed opinions on whether the store will be useful.

“I don’t know if I’d ever use it,” said Andy Sheppard, a Kwantlen psychology student.

Rahil Faruqi, a Kwantlen student who is taking a double minor in English and philosophy, is a Mac user who welcomes the new addition.

“There aren’t many stores that focus mainly on Macs,” he said. “Seems okay. I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be.”

Anish Koirala, an accounting student, also agrees that it could benefit a lot of students.

“I don’t really use Mac as much, but I can assume somebody else would. I think it’s a good thing,” he says.

Simply Computing, which has several retail stores in the Lower Mainland, is, according to its website, the “largest Apple specialty dealer in British Columbia. The store, which will occupy a small portion of the bookstore’s space, will also provide hardware upgrade and rental services.

It was about more than just the medals

March 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Having someone ask you if you “want to go up” to crowd surf in the heart of downtown Vancouver on the closing Sunday of the Olympics in our now golden land feels good.

With a simple DJ set up near the corner of Granville and W Georgia streets, music at an outdoor venue never felt so liberating, so electrifying.

With Sidney Crosby scoring the gold medal goal 7:40 into overtime only hours before, Vancouver, the True North Strong and Free, and every Canadian was sent into a bewildered state of celebration.

When we look back at the history which was written in Vancouver over these last two weeks, sure we will recognize the 14 golds, seven silvers, and five bronze. But to us, the heavy-weighted feeling of our patriotic hearts came from more than just winning sporting events.

Whether our athletes stood on the podium or not, with their well-fought, courageous efforts and the nation’s overflowing enthusiasm, Canada was on top of the world.

From every hug, kiss or high five given in Robson Square, in Gretzky’s restaurant in Toronto, in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia — it was those little moments which made the XXI Winter Games that much more worth it in every aspect.

Or maybe it was when I watched a homeless person participate in a road hockey game using a broom as a hockey stick after the boys brought home gold medal number 14.

He had his two shopping carts crammed full of his life’s valuables parked behind the cardboard box goal while he battled it out with other proud Canadians just like himself.

To see his team score gave me the chills and a smile I held with me for the rest of the night.

With the crowd that surrounded the game cheering and screaming, the homeless man received the most loving hugs and high fives I have ever seen.

Seeing people coming together the way they did is more than I could have asked for.

I am forever grateful I was there, I was in it, and I hope everyone else is too.