Featured

Imagining the Change with Felix N. Kongyuy, Green Party Candidate, Surrey Centre (Surrey, BC, CA)

In this episode, Naaz Sidhu and Dr. Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square speak to the very engaging and inspiring Felix N. Kongyuy (he/him), MA, Green Party Candidate for Surrey Centre (Surrey, BC, CA).

Felix has been active in the corporate and social services sectors for decades. He is a consultant to non-profits and a skilled arbitrator with extensive experience in small business. He is the director of MoveOn Consulting and Arbitration.

Felix is the founder and chief executive officer of Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society, a community organization that serves vulnerable children, at-risk youth, women, families, persons with disabilities, French and English-speaking Canadians, and newcomers to Canada. In the Lower Mainland, he has served on several advisory boards addressing social justice, racism, community safety, children and at-risk youth programming gaps, skill shortages for newcomers, small business needs, immigrant challenges, the housing shortage, capacity and community building, and issues impacting seniors’ health.

Felix has also served as a board member, advisory member and member at large on several national organizations and co-founded organizations like Global Peace Alliance and businesses like First Call Health and Home Care Services. He led and designed programs for Indigenous, Christian, and spiritual groups in B.C.

Felix and his family live in Surrey, where he is deeply engaged in community building and looks forward to being an agent of change for Surrey Centre.

Vote for Felix Kongyuy for Surrey Centre and join the “Imagine the Change” campaign!

On the ballot:

– The climate crisis and the environment

– Affordable daycare for families

– Support for small businesses and families

– Support for community programs

– Support for seniors, youth, and persons with disabilities – Ending government waste

https://www.greenparty.ca/en/riding/2013-59032

https://www.instagram.com/felixkongyuyformp/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/felixformp

Thank you so much to the amazing Johanna Hauterville for editing this video! We love you!

And thank you to the extraordinarily talented Kristen Frier for creating the background image! We love you!

https://www.facebook.com/thebrainsandbanter

https://www.instagram.com/thebrainsandbanter/

https://www.patreon.com/thebrainsandbanterpodcast

Much love and gratitude to everyone!

Featured

Imagining the Change with Felix N. Kongyuy, Green Party Candidate, Surrey Centre (Surrey, BC, CA)

Here is Part One of The Brains & Banter Podcast‘s three-part interview with Felix N. Kongyuy, Green Party Candidate for Surrey Centre (Surrey, BC, CA)!

On the ballot:

The climate crisis and the environment

Affordable daycare for families

Support for small businesses and families

Support for community programs

Support for seniors, youth, and persons with disabilities

Ending government waste

Felix has been active in the corporate and social services sectors for decades. He is a consultant to non-profits and a skilled arbitrator with extensive experience in small business. He is the director of MoveOn Consulting and Arbitration.

Felix is the founder and chief executive officer of Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society, a community organization that serves vulnerable children, at-risk youth, women, families, persons with disabilities, French and English-speaking Canadians, and newcomers to Canada.

In the Lower Mainland, he has served on several advisory boards addressing social justice, racism, community safety, children and at-risk youth programming gaps, skill shortages for newcomers, small business needs, immigrant challenges, the housing shortage, capacity and community building, and issues impacting seniors’ health.

Felix has also served as a board member, advisory member and member at large on several national organizations and co-founded organizations like Global Peace Alliance and businesses like First Call Health and Home Care Services. He led and designed programs for Indigenous, Christian, and spiritual groups in B.C.

Felix and his family live in Surrey, where he is deeply engaged in community building and looks forward to being an agent of change for Surrey Centre.

The Brains and Banter Podcast in Conversation with Professor Kehinde Andrews

Featured

Here is The Brains & Banter Podcast‘s full conversation with the very brilliant Kehinde Andrews!! Thank you again and again, Kehinde – we love you!!

Kehinde is a Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City School of Social Sciences, UK. He is also an activist and author whose books include:

The New Age of Empire: How Racism & Colonialism Still Rule the World (2021), which we discuss in this episode

Back to Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century (2018)

Resisting Racism: Race, Inequality and the Black Supplementary School Movement (2013)

Kehinde led the development of the Black Studies degree and is director of the Centre for Critical Social Research, founder of the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity, and co-chair of the Black Studies Association. He does it all! It was such a pleasure to speak with him!

We’ve included links to Kehinde’s awesome conversations with the very awesome Russell Brand below the video on YouTube! If you’re interested, please do like and subscribe! Lots of love and gratitude!! 💜

Co-Hosts:

Naaz Sidhu is a Punjabi creator, social justice advocate, podcast host, and content creator and is in the third year of her Sociology degree at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU). She is a spoken word poet and has been featured in South Asian poetry events held at KPU. Naaz has been writing poetry for seven years and connects her work and art with her personal experiences.

Ana Benham recently completed her BA (Hons) Acting degree at Rose Bruford College, London (UK) and is passionate about what she calls ‘the Artist’s Responsibility’ and how all forms of art and storytelling have the power to pave the way for positive action. Ana is excited to contribute to a greater discussion about the future of the creative industries and the role they can play in our global community.

Kennedy Holick is going into her third year of university at Douglas College and is pursuing her Social Work degree. She enjoys reading, writing, music, travel, creating art, taking photographs, and spending time with her dog Pearl. She is extremely passionate about mental health and hopes to help end the stigma around it.

Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square received her PhD in English literature from Oxford (UK) in 2017 and has taught interdisciplinary and English courses since. She loves teaching, collaborating, and connecting and is currently co-authoring a chapter on the climate crisis, eco-grief, and the media for the Routledge Handbook of Health and Media (2021) with Dr. Carol-Ann Farkas and co-editing and contributing to a collection, Sex and Medicine: Intersex and the Health and Medical Humanities, with Dr. Katelyn Dykstra, which will be published by Bloomsbury in 2022. She is also a writer, researcher, and content creator for the Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium, which brings together clinical, scientific, and spiritual paradigms to improve clinical outcomes, and a Research Affiliate with the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities (UMIH).

Thank you to the amazing and amazingly talented Johanna Hauterville for editing this video – we love you!

The Brains and Banter Podcast in Conversation with Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada

Featured

Here is a teaser for Season One of The Brains & Banter podcast! We will start releasing our 16 episodes later in August! Thanks to everyone for all of your support and to all of our amazing guests for being amazing! In this interview, Naaz Sidhu – artist, activist, and Sociology student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University – and Dr. Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square – author, activist, and academic – speak with the amazing Annamie Paul, lawyer, activist, and Leader of the Green Party of Canada.

We discuss the devastating discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School (BC, CA) – which has been followed by discoveries in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and just off Vancouver Island, where 160 unmarked graves were found on July 12, 2021 – and how the Green Party will accelerate the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action and achieve reconciliation. We also discuss the Green Party’s plan for the education system, its plans to address the climate emergency and the related mental health crisis, and the vital role of young people and creatives play in the movement towards real change.

Annamie is the daughter of immigrants who arrived in Canada from the Caribbean in the 1960s and completed a Masters of Public Affairs at Princeton University, a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Ottawa, and is called to the Bar in Ontario. Over the years, she has been selected as an inaugural Action Canada Fellow, an Echoing Green Fellow – as a member of the Recruitment of Policy Leaders Program – member of the University of Ottawa Common Law Honour Society, and as a recipient of the Harry Jerome Award. A large part of her professional life has been focused on international affairs.

Annamie has worked abroad as a Director for a leading conflict prevention NGO in Brussels, as an Advisor at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and as a Political Officer in Canada’s Mission to the European Union. She co-founded and co-directed BIPP HUB in Barcelona: an innovation hub for international NGOs working on global challenges. She also served on the Board and advised a number of international NGOs, including the Climate Infrastructure Partnership (CLIP), Higher Education Alliance for Refugees (HEAR), and Institute for Integrated Transitions (IFIT). Promoting diversity in Canadian politics is a long-standing commitment of Annamie’s, and she has always found ways to advocate. After graduate school, she founded and directed the Canadian Centre for Political Leadership (CCPL) from 2001-2005: a non-partisan charity that trained women and under-represented minorities to run for elected office. She is proud that CCPL trainees are now serving their communities in elected roles. She has also volunteered with Operation Black Vote Canada (OBVC) and served on the Steering Committee for Equal Voice Canada, two non-partisan organisations working to diversify political representation. Annamie has also published articles and policy papers on social inclusion and representation in Canadian politics.

In the 2019 federal election, Annamie represented the Green Party of Canada as its candidate in Toronto Centre. She ran against the sitting Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, and challenged the Liberal record of building pipelines while neglecting our local communities. The Green Party had the second-best Green result in the Greater Toronto Area, nearly tripling the Green vote in the riding. Annamie was really proud of the ways in which her campaign team was also able to support other Green candidates and ridings throughout the city.

Until recently, Annamie served as International Affairs Critic in the Green Party of Canada’s Shadow Cabinet, providing advice to our Interim Leader on international issues and helping to guide the development of our foreign policy positions. Annamie speaks English, French, Catalan, and Spanish. In sum, Annamie Paul is a superhero, and WE LOVE HER! Thank you again and again for having this important conversation with us!

Thank you also to Johanna Hauterville for editing this video – you are brilliant, and we appreciate you so very much!

https://www.greenparty.ca/en

Featured

Spiritually Inspired: My Interview with Claudiu Murgan

Hi, everyone! This is a fun interview I did with the very brilliant Claudiu Murgan! Thanks again, Claudiu – I had a blast! Light, love, and gratitude!

Featured

Teaser – The Brains & Banter Podcast – Conversation with Professor Kehinde Andrews (1/3)

Hi, everyone! Here is a brief glimpse at our forthcoming conversation with Professor Kehinde Andrews!

Kehinde is a Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City School of Social Sciences, UK. He is also an activist and author whose books include The New Age of Empire: How Racism & Colonialism Still Rule the World (2021) – which we discuss in this episode – Back to Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century (2018); and Resisting Racism: Race, Inequality and the Black Supplementary School Movement (2013).

Kehinde led the development of the Black Studies degree and is director of the Centre for Critical Social Research; founder of the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity; and co-chair of the Black Studies Association. He does it all! It was such a pleasure to speak with him!

Co-hosts: Ana Benham; Naaz Sidhu; Kennedy Holick; Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square

Thank you to the wildly talented Johanna Hauterville for editing this video! We love you!

Reading and Writing Romantic Health: YouTube Video

Featured

Hi, everyone! This is the recording from the amazing panel I was on with an AMAZING group of scholars!!!

Featured

Metamorphosis: My Path to Transformation – An Interview with Yves Réal Côté (1/7)

In this seven-part interview, previously posted as a whole in August 2020, I talk to one of my favourite people, Yves Réal Côté, about his experiences in prison and about his remarkable path to change. We discuss solitary confinement, overincarceration, the need for prison reform and better access to education, mental health, early adverse childhood experiences, trauma, violence, inequality, family, empathy, hope, and transformation, and we also talk about Yves’ recently published book, co-authored with Professor Alana Abramson (Criminology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University), Metamorphosis: My Path to Transformation (the title changed since we did the interview last summer), which you can now purchase via the link below! Wooo!

Thank you for listening – Yves has so much knowledge to share, and he is such a beautiful human being.

Thank you as always to the incredibly talented Johanna Hauterville for editing these videos and for being the best video editor EVER! I am so grateful!

You can purchase Yves’ book via this link:

https://books.friesenpress.com/store/title/119734000169581492?fbclid=IwAR0QImSJTsjt-rkE1n8NFkxfA0HZZPkFajV1i3OQFwh1k40XBjKklaIZNdw

Featured

“Hyper-Empathy, Psychopathy, and Society” – Co-Hosted by Dr. Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square and Naaz Sidhu!

Thank you also to the uber talented Kristen Frier for creating this AWESOME POSTER!! WE LOVE YOU!

This is a KPU-only event, but if people would like to join us for something similar, we will be hosting a TED Circles event that everyone can join on April 30, 2021! More information to follow in the coming weeks!

Featured

Coping with Chronic Pain: Friendship, Poetry, Compassion, and Healing – An Interview with Alisha Chauhan (6/9)

Alisha Chauhan is a Public Speaker and Chronic Illness/Mental Health Advocate, an Educator, and an overall amazing human being! In this 9-part interview, we discuss her experience coping with Multiple Sclerosis and talk about mental health, chronic pain, art (particularly poetry) as therapy, the power of community and friendship, baking, and more!

Alisha: “I have 8 years of a demonstrated background in higher education, psychology, counselling and mental health, and I have been able to combine this with my life experiences in order to inspire others through my journey. I have been giving lectures specifically about my illness since I got diagnosed in 2016.”

Thank you to the wildly talented Johanna Hauterville, one of the best video editors out there! I would be lost without you!

Please free to contact Alisha for more information at lemmiehelpyou@gmail.com. Love you, Alisha!!

Featured

Addressing the Climate Emergency: The Anthropocene and Our Shared Responsibility (Part 4)

In this video, part 4 of 4 (it turns out there was one more that I had forgotten about!), Dr. Todd Dufresne, Dr. Carol-Ann Farkas, and Dr. Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square discuss the role of scholarship in addressing the climate emergency and COVID-19 and about the importance of youth activism.

Todd is a Professor of Philosophy at Lakehead University (CA) and, most recently, author of The Democracy of Suffering: Life on the Edge of Catastrophe, Philosophy in the Anthropocene (2019).

Carol-Ann is a Professor of English and the Director of Writing Programs in the School of Arts and Sciences at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS). She is the the editor of Reading the Psychosomatic in Medical and Popular Culture: Something, Nothing, Everything (Routledge 2017), and her current research focuses on the ways in which we turn to popular media to learn about, and cope with, eco-anxiety. She is currently co-authoring a chapter for The Routledge Handbook of Health and Media (2021)—“Climate Health is Human Health: Working Through Eco-Anxiety With the Written Word in Print and Digital Media”—with Bryn.

I am an interdisciplinary instructor and activist and am currently co-authoring a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of Health and Media, as you know from above, and co-editing a collected volume, Intersex and the Health and Medical Humanities (2021), with Dr. Katelyn Dykstra.

Thank you so much to the very talented Johanna Hauterville for editing this video (which would have taken me my entire life)!!

Featured

How COVID Has Altered Higher Ed, An Interview with Jasmeen Deol and Ravneet Sahota (2/6)

In this six-part interview, I speak with my former Kwantlen Polytechnic University students Jasmeen Deol (Psychology, KPU) and Ravneet Sahota (Criminology, KPU) about their experiences attending university during a pandemic. They have so much knowledge to share, and they are absolutely amazing!!

In Part Two, we discuss synchronous and asynchronous learning, Zoom fatigue, and the possibility of instituting a Pass/Fail system at university and of making higher education free! Yes, please!

Jasmeen and Ravneet are the Co-Directors of an initiative tracking media coverage of COVID-19 in BC prisons and jails and are also co-organizers for an international forum, “Redesigning Our World,” which will be held virtually in 2022 (this video was recorded before we decided to change the date from September 2021 to Spring 2022). Annamie Paul, lawyer, activist, and Leader of the Green Party of Canada, will be our opening keynote!

Thank you so much to the ridiculously talented Johanna Hauterville for your always amazing work editing these videos—I would be lost without you!

Featured

Pursuing Higher Education During a Pandemic – An Interview with Jasmeen Deol and Ravneet Sahota (1/6)

In this six-part interview, I speak with my former students Kwantlen Polytechnic University students Jasmeen Deol (Psychology, KPU) and Ravneet Sahota (Criminology, KPU) about their experiences attending university during COVID-19. They have so much knowledge to share, and they are absolutely amazing!!

Jasmeen and Ravneet are the Co-Directors of an initiative tracking media coverage of COVID-19 in BC prisons and jails and are also co-organizers for an international forum, “Redesigning Our World,” which will be held virtually in 2022 (this video was recorded before we decided to change the date from September 2021 to Spring 2022). Annamie Paul, lawyer, activist, and Leader of the Green Party of Canada, will be our opening keynote!

Please do check out the following links if you’re interested:

Tracking Media Coverage of COVID-19 in BC Prisons and Jails, Website and Instagram Links:

https://trackingcovid19bcprisons.wordpress.com/

https://www.instagram.com/covid19inbcprisons/

Thank you so much to the ridiculously talented Johanna Hauterville for your always amazing work editing these videos—I would be lost without you!

“Living with Multiple Sclerosis – Self-Advocacy & Empathy,” An Interview with Alisha Chauhan (5/9)

Featured

*Alisha wrote the poem pictured in the photo.

Alisha Chauhan is a Public Speaker and Chronic Illness/Mental Health Advocate, an Educator, and an overall amazing human being! In this 9-part interview, we discuss her experience coping with Multiple Sclerosis as well as mental health, chronic pain, the power of community, baking, and more!

Alisha: “I have 8 years of a demonstrated background in higher education, psychology, counselling and mental health, and I have been able to combine this with my life experiences in order to inspire others through my journey. I have been giving lectures specifically about my illness since I got diagnosed in 2016.”

*If you’re interested in Michelle Lobchuk’s research – she is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Manitoba – you can find out more here:

Thank you to the wildly talented Johanna Hauterville, one of the best video editors out there! I would be lost without you!

Please free to contact Alisha for more information at lemmiehelpyou@gmail.com.

“Poetry, Creativity, and Agency – Coping with Chronic Pain,” An Interview with Alisha Chauhan, 3/9

Featured

Alisha Chauhan is a Public Speaker and Chronic Illness/Mental Health Advocate, an Educator, and an overall amazing human being! In this 9-part interview, we discuss her experience coping with Multiple Sclerosis as well as mental health, chronic pain, the power of community, baking, and more!

Alisha: “I have 8 years of a demonstrated background in higher education, psychology, counselling and mental health, and I have been able to combine this with my life experiences in order to inspire others through my journey. I have been giving lectures specifically about my illness since I got diagnosed in 2016.” Thank you to the wildly talented Johanna Hauterville, one of the best video editors out there! I would be lost without you!

Feel free to contact Alisha for more information at lemmiehelpyou@gmail.com.

An anonymous response to Alisha’s presentation during one of my classes: “The first thing [I learned] is that life is so fragile: no one knows what will happen the next moment. Live . . . life to the fullest and be thankful every day for being alive. Life has ups and downs, but Alisha insists that you should not give up easily. Alisha is a warrior.” SO TRUE!

The photo is of Alisha and our amazing friend Calvin “Kalvonix” Tiu! Please check out the links to his music in the description under the YouTube video!

Ripples of Consciousness in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Part One

Featured

Hi, everyone! This is Part One of a five-part series of videos from my presentation at the Science of Consciousness conference in September 2020. I had released this originally, but I realized that it was the wrong version! Oops! Thanks as always! Sending love!

Featured

“Poetry, Creativity, and Coping with Chronic Pain – An Interview with Alisha Chauhan,” Part 1/9

Alisha Chauhan is a Public Speaker and Chronic Illness/Mental Health Advocate, an Educator, and an overall amazing human being! In this 9-part interview, we discuss her experience coping with Multiple Sclerosis as well as mental health, chronic pain, the power of community, baking, and more! Alisha: “I have 8 years of a demonstrated background in higher education, psychology, counselling and mental health, and I have been able to combine this with my life experiences in order to inspire others through my journey. I have been giving lectures specifically about my illness since I got diagnosed in 2016.”

Thank you to the wildly talented Johanna Hauterville, one of the best video editors out there! I would be lost without you!

A Wonderful Conversation with the Wonderful Ethan Herschenfeld!

Featured

The S Rank Podcast – The Persona Series and Literature

Featured

Hi, everyone!! I am beyond excited to be a guest on William Westerberg‘s and Aaron Moy‘s weekly gaming podcast, The S Rank! We will be discussing the Persona Series, which makes reference to Mary Shelley, Poe, and Lovecraft (cool, right??!!)!

As Aaron explains, “it is a classical Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) in which you use monsters (Personas) to fight a variety of antagonists in pursuit of truth/justice/etc. Gameplay usually alternates between participating in normal, everyday life and investigating a distorted fantasy world. There is one exception, however, and this is the topic we will dive into: The Velvet Room.

As described by the franchise, it is a place between dream and reality, mind and matter. It is a staple of the series, manifesting differently in each game. Its purpose is to help the player towards their path of enlightenment.” If you want to hear more, please check out the podcast!! 🥳😎🤩

Here’s where you can check them out:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesrankpodcast/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thesrankpodcast

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6g3u3iOGpzDFfEImD0Ir2l

Radical Humanism in Times of Crisis, Part 3 – Is Russell Brand the Socrates of Our Time?

Featured

In this video, the final of a three-part series, Dr. Todd Dufresne, Dr. Carol-Ann Farkas, and Dr. Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square discuss tricksters, comedians, Indigenous knowledge, and the role of scholarship in addressing the climate emergency and COVID-19.

*****The book shown in the video is actually Trickster Drift. I am referring to Son of a Trickster.****

Todd is a Professor of Philosophy at Lakehead University (CA) and, most recently, author of The Democracy of Suffering: Life on the Edge of Catastrophe, Philosophy in the Anthropocene (2019). Carol-Ann is a Professor of English and the Director of Writing Programs in the School of Arts and Sciences at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS). She is the the editor of Reading the Psychosomatic in Medical and Popular Culture: Something, Nothing, Everything (Routledge 2017), and her current research focuses on the ways in which we turn to popular media to learn about, and cope with, eco-anxiety. She is currently co-authoring a chapter for The Routledge Handbook of Health and Media (2021)—“Climate Health is Human Health: Working Through Eco-Anxiety With the Written Word in Print and Digital Media”—with Bryn. Bryn is an Interdisciplinary Instructor in the Faculty of Arts at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and an editor for Epilogue magazine. She is currently co-authoring a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of Health and Media, as you know from above, and she is also co-editing a collected volume, Intersex and the Health and Medical Humanities (2021), with Dr. Katelyn Dykstra. Thank you so much to the very talented Johanna Hauterville for editing this video (which would have taken me my entire life)!!

Empathy, Eco-Anxiety, and Activism: Radical Humanism in the Face of Climate Change and Social Upheaval (2/4)

Featured

In this video, part two of four, Dr. Todd Dufresne, Dr. Carol-Ann Farkas, and Dr. Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square discuss the role of scholarship in addressing the climate emergency and COVID-19.

Todd is a Professor of Philosophy at Lakehead University (CA) and, most recently, author of The Democracy of Suffering: Life on the Edge of Catastrophe, Philosophy in the Anthropocene (2019).

Carol-Ann is a Professor of English and the Director of Writing Programs in the School of Arts and Sciences at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS). She is the the editor of Reading the Psychosomatic in Medical and Popular Culture: Something, Nothing, Everything (Routledge 2017), and her current research focuses on the ways in which we turn to popular media to learn about, and cope with, eco-anxiety. She is currently co-authoring a chapter for The Routledge Handbook of Health and Media (2021)—“Climate Health is Human Health: Working Through Eco-Anxiety With the Written Word in Print and Digital Media”—with Bryn.

Bryn is an Interdisciplinary Instructor in the Faculty of Arts at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and an editor for Epilogue magazine. She is currently co-authoring a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of Health and Media, as you know from above, and she is also co-editing a collected volume, Intersex and the Health and Medical Humanities (2021), with Dr. Katelyn Dykstra.

Thank you so much to the very talented Johanna Hauterville for editing this video (which would have taken me my entire life)!

A Conversation with Dr. Todd Dufresne, Dr. Carol-Ann Farkas, and Dr. Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square, Part One: Empathy, Eco-Anxiety, and Activism: Radical Humanism in the Face of Climate Change and Social Upheaval, Part One

Featured

In this video, part one of four, Dr. Todd Dufresne, Dr. Carol-Ann Farkas, and Dr. Shoshannah Bryn Jones Square discuss the role of scholarship in addressing the climate emergency and COVID-19.

Todd is a Professor of Philosophy at Lakehead University (CA) and, most recently, author of The Democracy of Suffering: Life on the Edge of Catastrophe, Philosophy in the Anthropocene (2019).

Carol-Ann is a Professor of English and the Director of Writing Programs in the School of Arts and Sciences at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS). She is the the editor of Reading the Psychosomatic in Medical and Popular Culture: Something, Nothing, Everything (Routledge 2017), and her current research focuses on the ways in which we turn to popular media to learn about, and cope with, eco-anxiety. She is currently co-authoring a chapter for The Routledge Handbook of Health and Media (2021)—“Climate Health is Human Health: Working Through Eco-Anxiety With the Written Word in Print and Digital Media”—with Bryn.

Bryn is an Interdisciplinary Instructor in the Faculty of Arts at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and an editor for Epilogue magazine. She is currently co-authoring a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of Health and Media, as you know from above, and she is also co-editing a collected volume, Intersex and the Health and Medical Humanities (2021), with Dr. Katelyn Dykstra.

Thank you so much to the very talented Johanna Hauterville for editing this video!

Featured

Incarceration, Prison Reform, Empathy, and Hope: An Interview with Yves Réal Côté

Many thanks to Alana Abramson for editing Metamorphosis and for introducing me to Yves. As Alana writes, “this book is for social science students, researchers, and faculty and anyone interested in trauma, transformation, and criminal justice.”

Thank you also to Wade Deisman, and for everyone on the team, for introducing me to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s vital Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program.

Robyn Maynard, Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present (2017):

Incarceration is a form of captivity. Besides murder by police—the destruction of the body and the ending of life—it is the ultimate deprivation of liberty that can be inflicted by the state. Prisons are not only places of profound suffering, but they also make any participation in society’s social, economic and political life impossible. The populations that make up prisons make clear the fault lines of societal devaluation: there are no federal prisons composed mostly of wealthy, able-bodied, cisgender men. As incarcerated populations grow, jails and prisons are increasingly populated with those who have been deemed disposable: Black and Indigenous communities, people with cognitive disabilities and mental health problems and people with drug addictions. Incarceration does not impact all communities equally. For Black and Indigenous communities, incarceration is merely an extension of practices of captivity that date back centuries. (109)

In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), explains in “We Must Put an End to the Use of Solitary Confinement in Federal Prisons” (2017) that the CHRC “has long held that placing vulnerable individuals in solitary confinement denies them their human rights, and for those with mental health issues, it can lead to irreparable harm”; however, Correctional Services Canada nevertheless “continues to deny that their actions can cause profound damage.” We need “[t]o be better, and to do better” when it comes to the rights of prisoners, Landry insists, “we absolutely need to acknowledge, understand and address the vicious cycle of neglect and abuse that exists both outside our prisons, and within them.” “Every person on Canadian soil,” Landry continues, “whether they are in our prison system or in our immigration system, deserves to be treated with human dignity, and to have full access to Canada’s human rights protections.”

In her TEDx Talk, “Why US Prisons Need to Abolish Solitary Confinement” (2015), civil rights lawyer Laura Rovner refers to solitary confinement as a “prolonged social death” that “undermines core values of the justice system.” Prisoners are locked in a “cement closet,” “a cell the size of a bathroom”; there is no scenery, no human interaction, no communication with others or the outside world, and the damage to mental and physical health is severe (some self-harm, others commit suicide, many experience irreparable damage to their eyesight and vocal chords, and many lose their grasp on who they are and no longer feel connected to the larger world, so much so that some doubt that they even exist (Rovner).

In her powerful TED Talk, “What a World Without Prisons Could Look Like” (2018), activist architect (and my hero) Deanna Van Buren rightly argues that “[i]nstead of prisons, we should be building spaces to amplify restorative justice.”

A few corrections (oops!):

  1. Deanna Van Buren‘s name is written incorrectly in the video (my apologies – I need to learn how to edit videos) and should be written as I have it here.
  2. Around 35:50, I mention that incarceration can affect individuals on a physiological level (and had some difficulty pronouncing the word) and then go on to discuss the psychological effects. My brain stopped working temporarily, which is not uncommon.
  3. In the final quotation from Robyn Maynard ‘s Policing Black Lives, there should be a space between “social” and “economic.” Obsessive compulsive? Yes.

Yves Réal Côté

Featured

Watch out for my forthcoming video interview with the very inspiring Yves Réal Côté! Yves will speak about his experiences in the prison system and about his important book Metamorphosis: The Road to Change

About

My name is Yves Réal Côté. Since the age of 11, I have spent most of my life in institutions. I am what is known as a “lifer” serving the most severe sentence available in Canada, life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years. That means I will be under supervision by the government of Canada until my death.  In fact, I am serving two life sentences. My crimes consist of the use of violence in the community and in prison. In 1989, I took a life in Ottawa and was convicted of first-degree murder. In 1995, I received another life sentence for a murder I committed in a maximum-security institution. Two days after having been found guilty of the first murder and sentenced to life in prison, I received another sentence of 14 years for two bank robberies and one year for attempting to escape prison. In December 2013, after serving nearly 32 years in prison, I was released to reside in a halfway house on day parole. I am re-integrating into society as a responsible and contributing citizen. Writing my book, Metamorphosis: The Road to Change, is part of the transformative process I have been going through for many years.

I have been in 18 different federal institutions at every level of security: minimum security, medium security, maximum-security and super maximum known as the Special Handling Unit (SHU). I am covered with tattoos, and some say that I have a threatening image, an evil look. While I served my time in prison, I adapted well. I adapted myself to a point where I would go unnoticed. In the “outside” world it would be impossible for me to pass as “normal” with my physical appearance.  Today, however, the majority of people who take the time to sit down and have a conversation with me see me as a very intelligent man with potential to do good and to help others. It would be such a waste if my life experiences could not be used to reduce the suffering of others.

I strongly believe that sharing my story can make a difference for others. I have spoken in university and community settings and received heartfelt feedback. I would have never thought that it would be possible for me to make such a positive impact on people. Some people have told me that hearing my story reduced their prejudice towards offenders and prison. Others said they were scared to death when they learned that a murderer would be addressing their class. After hearing my story, their fear had completely gone away.

I have written hundreds of pages over the years I have spent in prison, many of them during my time in solitary confinement. I have also been writing since I have been released. This book contains a snapshot of my life and my thoughts on many topics. Some of what I have written may shock certain people and, if you feel offended, I apologize in advance. My purpose is not to please or to displease anybody nor trash anyone or the criminal justice system. Although some of my reflections may seem negative, my goals are to share my truth, take responsibility for my actions and, perhaps, help and inspire others in their change.

I am a simple man writing about making change, friendship, love, racism, religion, crime and punishment, and, naturally, incarceration. Many parts of this book have been very difficult to write. However, in a society where it seems we have lost common sense to fear and everything seems artificial, I am convinced that this book will be able to help some of you better understand the world in which prisoners live and what needs to change. 

I have participated in countless programs while incarcerated. I achieved the equivalent of a high school diploma and have completed eight college courses in psychology, philosophy, and sociology.  Despite years of correctional programs and some education, I am not an expert in any of the subjects that I am going to write about. However, I have enough lived experiences to give an informed opinion on things that touch us all. My friend and colleague, Alana Abramson, has agreed to contribute related academic insights and help edit this work.