Profile: Marc Stokes, busker

December 20, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Busker Marc Stokes

Busker Marc Stokes on Granville Street (Photo by Erica J Wilk)

Busker Marc Stokes is seeing the bigger picture in what he does.

“It’s very difficult to stay in an argument with Marc Stokes,” said Anthony Madani. Madani, a hip hop performer and friend of Stokes’, is the creator of the group Musicians United Against Censorship, which is a collection of buskers, as well as musicians who felt censored by the police.

Due to noise complaints from residents, buskers were shut down by the police in spring 2010. Madani and Stokes both said they understand the concerns of the residents and Stokes added, “If you choose to live on the loudest part of Granville Street, I think it’s kind of a ridiculous statement to complain about noise down there.”

In May 2010, Musicians United Against Censorship, protested against the regulations for buskers by blocking Robson Street and making music.

Madani said that Stokes did a lot of organizing for this event and he “is incredibly passionate about his music and he loves performing and making music for people.”

Stokes is a rapper; he also plays the guitar and the saxophone. He got his musical education in elementary and high school and said his most important influences were the people at the Anza Club. There he met “a lot of people with open minds and open hearts, who are willing to teach and learn.”

David Morin is one of these people. He is singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer who is often on stage with Stokes. About Stokes he said, “Marc is very motivated […] He is just a very determined individual so it’s inspiring to work with him.”

The protest concert caught the attention of people from the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA). According to Madani, they liked seeing live music in the streets and how well people reacted to it.

DVBIA took Stokes as a contractor for bringing more music to the streets and, as a result of their work together and with city hall, laws were changed. Busking hours and decibel levels for amplification were extended and more busking areas were created.

Barbara Fairbrother is the event-planning coordinator of DVBIA, who was and is working with Stokes. She said, “I think Marc is very passionate about what he believes in. He is open-minded and willing to listen to different groups and their concerns and I think that’s what helps him work between so many different groups.”

Looking back, Morin sees a transition in the relationship between buskers and police. “First, they [the police] were really hard on us and when they got little bit more used to what was going on they seemed to loosen up on us,” said Morin.

Guitarist Bodhi Jones, who has been a busker for five years, says he never had problems with the police or the city. “As I recall, the bans on busking only started the day the Stokester showed up,” Jones said on the group’s Facebook page in May. “It seems to me that he just likes to talk a lot of shit.”

And, via email, Jones said, “Marc Stokes and his hip hop collective do not speak for me or any of the handful of professional buskers that I’m friends with.“

When confronted with Jones’ quotes, Stokes said, “I think what the concern was a lot of people thought a lot of this was coming from me. […] About what Bodhi said, well, I mean, I’m human and I’m always gonna make mistakes and errors. I don’t know if it is possible to satisfy everybody. But I will try.”

Stokes sees the bigger picture of how life in Vancouver could be someday. He wants the mindsets of people to change. “Maybe some day it doesn’t matter anymore if you drive a BMW. Maybe someday it matters if you’re happy or not.” Stokes said he is not afraid to take the small steps along the way. However, the power for the small and big steps lies in his passion for making music for people.

Stokes in Downtown Vancouver on July 1, 2010. (YouTube video by user woodwardsmile)

Stokes’ website:

Kwantlen student turns the tables on stereotypes

November 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

At the age of 18, most are struggling to a decide whether to enter post-secondary school or to continue living off the bank of mom and dad.

But, at 18, Raedel Campbell has already graduated from high school, is well into her first semester at Kwantlen, and has given birth to a child.

“It was February 2009 and I was in school, so I was young. Grade 11 I found out, actually,” said Campbell. “With my parents, at first, it was a bit of a fight, but they realized I am pretty stubborn because I wanted to keep the baby. So they decided not to stress me out, because that’s bad for the baby, and became totally supportive, and were totally excited to be grandparents.”

The pregnancy did not stop Campbell from completing high school in the most normal fashion possible. “I did get to go to grad, I have my diploma. It was all on time so I am not behind at all,” she said.

Campbell is now attending university, working and attempting to maintain a social life, all the while raising one-year-old Hayley.

“I have been [at Kwantlen] since September, and I am in the arts program, but I am just taking some electives toward a social services diploma that I will be transferring to UFV to complete, hopefully next year,” said Campbell. “I have four courses right now: Creative writing, English, anthropology, and communications, and it’s tough to handle for sure.”

Campbell’s experience with young motherhood has steered her career aspirations.

“I want to be a family support worker, and eventually work up my way and try to help out young moms, cause I’ve been through it. That’s what has inspired me,” she said. “I wanted to be a chef for a really long time, and after I had my baby, and went to a young parents group, I realized I wanted to help other young moms. I know I am someone they could relate to. And I want to be a really good mom, I want to have more kids, so I would need a good career to do that.”

“Teen moms” carry a negative stereotype, especially in the eyes of judgmental teens in high school hallways. But Campbell has fought to sustain a positive disposition and confidence in her decision.

“When I was first pregnant I’d get stared at, and people would be like, ‘Oh, what’s she thinking?’ I would get very upset about it. But then I realized I am not a normal young mom. A lot of them don’t go to school, and I know I am doing everything I can to provide a good life for my daughter. I am going to work, I am going to school, and I graduated on time. So I just kinda laugh, because they can put any stereotype on me, but I know it’s not true,” she said.

Content with the direction that her life has taken, Campbell says she wouldn’t change a thing.

”I’ve been pretty happy with everything. I think it’s the best thing to have happened to me. The father and I are actually back together and engaged. So things have gotten better between us.

We weren’t together for the entire pregnancy, and as hard as things were, it was the best for both of us not to be together,” she said.

With movies such as Juno, and TV shows such as “The Life of an American Teenager,” teen pregnancy has been brought into homes as a reality, but there’s also a stigma of what it means to be a teen mom. Campbell, with unwavering confidence, has taken it on herself to overcome all of that.

Her advice for other young moms and dads, enduring her same struggle is simple: “Keep your head up. Keep pushing because you can’t let other people get you down. Keep your dreams intact.“

Profile: Tom Meijer, exchange student

September 18, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Tom Meijer, 21, is an exchange student from the Netherlands. (Photo by Paul Fleischanderl)

Tom Meijer, 21, is an exchange student from the Netherlands. (Photo by Paul Fleischanderl)

It was his first week of classes at Kwantlen’s Richmond Campus, but he is no freshman. Tom Meijer, 21, is an exchange student from Rotterdam, Netherlands and in his third year of International Business studies.

Meijer is one of Kwantlen’s 34 exchange students in the fall 2010 semester. After this semester, he will be a student in the Netherlands again. His five classes here fit with his program at home, and the credits are transferable. He came to Vancouver because he wanted to do his exchange in an English-speaking country.

“I also think the culture here suits me. It’s quite liberal and open-minded — like me,” he said./p>

Meijer enjoyed his first days at Kwantlen. “I really like the small classes with around 20 students. This way it’s easy to engage with the instructor’s material.”

Class work and the style of teaching are quite similar to his school at home, Meijer said, although one difference is that the instructors here put more effort in engaging the students than they do in Rotterdam.

(Photo by Paul Fleischanderl)

Taking notes in his business class. (Photo by Paul Fleischanderl)

Being thousands of kilometres away from home doesn’t seem to bother him. Going abroad wasn’t a big decision.

“I chose my studies consciously and I knew that going abroad is part of my program. That’s what I wanted and I would be very disappointed if I would be staying at home now.”

Meijer said that leaving friends and family has been surprisingly easy. A few years back, he saw his brother gaining international experience and enjoying it. So he knew what was coming to him and — more important — he knew what the experience is worth.

At first, one needs courage to leave the comfort-zone of home, Meijer thinks. “If you do so, you try new things and you meet new people. You challenge yourself and become more.”

The new culture was at first awkward but he settled in quite fast and got used to it, he said.

His first day was a difficult one. Back then, he had to find a room and the place where he first stayed was still under construction. He couldn’t rest enough to get rid of his jetlag. So he went for a walk.

He discovered Vancouver bit by bit and he would recommend to everyone who is new to a city to explore it at first by foot at one’s own pace.

Especially at the beginning of an exchange, student’s social contacts to friends and family at home can help. “Writing e-mails and posting on Facebook is daily stuff,” he said. As well, once a week Meijer talks to his parents on Skype.

Although he will be away from home for five months, he’s not afraid to lose his connections to people at home. “My friends know I miss them, and I know they miss me. A couple of months won’t change anything.”

Meijer likes the small size of classes at Kwantlen. (Photo by Paul Fleischanderl)

Meijer likes the small size of classes at Kwantlen. (Photo by Paul Fleischanderl)

In most of his classes, Meijer is the only exchange student, which means a lot of new faces and acquaintances.

“People here are interested in who I am. But it’s mostly politeness and small talk. Everyone has their own life and their social circles,” he said.

Meijer wants to get to know the people here, but he thinks they aren’t easy to approach. He knows that it how acquaintances will perceive him depends on his attitude, and that he has to make the first step.

Every semester thousands of students like Meijer all around the world experience life, joy and adjusting abroad. But Europeans seem more likely to go abroad than Canadians. Numbers from Internationalization in education in the Netherlands from 2008/2009 show more than 40,000 Dutch students abroad. Data from the Association of University and Colleges in Canada’s from 2007 shows that there are roughly 18,000 Canadian students abroad in 2006/2007. (These numbers combine exchange and international students.)

It’s a fashionable life for Kwantlen student Sara Lanyon

December 20, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Kwantlen Chronicle reporter Kristi Jut caught up with fellow student Sara Lanyon to talk about the school’s fashion-design program and where it’s taking her career. Lanyon talks about her own clothing collection, Radii, and her involvement in up-and-coming headwear company, Vivo Headwear.

Profile: Omid Davani

January 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Omid Davani. (Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison photo)

Omid Davani. (Nathalie Heiberg-Harrison photo)

Name: Omid Davani
Number: 21
Position: Guard
Height: 6’4
Year: First
Program: general studies
Hometown: Port Coquitlam
Favourite actress: Jennifer Aniston
Favourite basketball movie: Coach Carter
Favourite food: his mom’s lasagna

On Omid Davani’s basketball team, every person has a different character on the court and in the dressing room—there’s the star forward, the distributor, the big guy, the veteran and the list goes on. Davani’s role? The rookie.

And what a year this rookie has had so far. In 12 weeks of play, he’s averaging nearly 17 points a game, ranking him 10th best in the league. His rebounding average of nine a game is even better, placing him fifth.

The 18-year-old from Port Coquitlam had a modest start in basketball, joining his first team in when he was 13, where Davani admits that he had his work cut out for him: “I wasn’t very good at all. I sucked.”

Two years later, when he made the move to Terry Fox secondary school, he was cut from the junior team. But when someone quit the team soon after, he took their spot. Davani said, “from then on I appreciated any minute I got.” The work paid off, and he was named team captain in his senior year.

After graduation, Davani made the move to the Kwantlen Eagle’s basketball club, and said it was like “going from a dog cage into the wild.” He admits the transition from a structured to free-flowing offense was weird and his increase in minutes on the floor has been a challenge. “It’s tough, but I’d rather be playing and getting injured than sitting on the bench,” he said.

Another thing that’s changed for Davani is his pre-game routine. “My philosophy this year was ‘new place, new changes.’ So, last year I had to do everything twice: tie my shoes twice, go to the washroom twice, wash my face twice, everything I did I had to do twice. But this year, because I changed everything, I don’t do that anymore.” Instead, his only routine is that he puts on his jersey halfway through the warm-up: “that way it’s not too sweaty.”

Davani said that basketball is his sport. “It’s in my DNA, I love it. The feeling you get scoring the tying point, getting that fast break or stealing the ball, being a part of the big play—it’s so much different than any other sport. It’s five guys playing as one. It’s unexplainable I guess.”

His goal is to one day play basketball internationally, and would like to tryout for the league in Iran, where his parents are from. But for now he’ll enjoy the perks of being a rookie: “I learn a lot from the older guys on the team…they give girl advice, too.”

This is the second in a series of occasional profiles of Kwantlen Eagles’ team members.

RELATED: Profile: Taminder Dhaliwal

New year, new president

September 10, 2008 by · 3 Comments 

Kwantlen students are attending a university and welcoming a new president they begin the fall semester. Dr. David W. Atkinson replaced Skip Triplett, who had served as president for Kwantlen since 1999, in July.

He brings to Kwantlen Polytechnic University an abundance of experience in working with universities, as well as new ideas for the institution.

A new name – Kwantlen Polytechnic University – and, in David Atkinson, a new president.

A new name – Kwantlen Polytechnic University – and, in David Atkinson, a new president.

“One of our ambitions should be co-op education across the curriculum, so that if you’re an English major or a history major that you have a co-op placement. You actually go out in the work world and you see how it works and you take some of those skills and you see whether or not you can apply them. That is my concept,” Atkinson said during an interview last week.
In his own words: 3’48″ audio of David Atkinson

In the first edition of his newsletter, which will be released every two months, he focussed on program development, university governance, campus development and senior reorganization.

“At this stage in my career, am I ready to take an institution like this and forge it into a university, so when I leave in five or six years time it is established and it’s ready and nobody questions it. Am I really up to this?” he asked rhetorically during the interview.

He is. “The real challenge is controlling expectations, because you can’t do it all overnight.”

Atkinson is in the process of establishing a university senate, “which is the way in which a university does business.”

“There’s no senate here and people have no concept of what a senate is. It just baffles me,” he said.

Atkinson joined Kwantlen University College in July, with more than 30 years of experience in higher education. He studied at the University of Calgary, where he received his BA, MA and PhD in English Literature. Later, Atkinson found himself at the University of Lethbridge where he joined senior administration and stayed for 15 years.

He was later named Professor of English and Religious Studies at the University of Saskatchewan. He then went on to be both president and vice-chancellor of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., where he is an honorary member of the Board of governors, then to Carleton University in Ottawa.

“The most important thing about Kwantlen, the most important thing about any university, is the quality of its programs. And so, to establish ourselves as a university, not only do we need to determine what kinds of programs we want here, which will distinguish us, because I think what we don’t want to be, is another wannabe.”

Atkinson’s newsletter, which outlines some of the changes taking place at Kwantlen, can be read at