A year in review: resilience amid adversity

The year 2021, much like the preceding year, brought its fair share of trials and tribulations. In addition to the ongoing pandemic, our province has experienced extreme climate change in the form of wildfires and floods, an increased focus on pressing social issues and a full-throated turn to technology as a way to cope and a way to live.

During the year, The Source Newspaper reached out to the members of our community who found creative ways to express their thoughts and ideas on these weighty topics. Let’s take a look back at some of the stories we covered from the year that was.

Living and working post-pandemic

In January, reporter Andreina Romero spoke with Governor General of Canada medal award winner Zabeen Hirji, who gave a talk about the post-pandemic workplace and the future of leadership. For Hirji, successful leaders use technology to enhance human skills and work and re-imagines the workplace as a hybrid model fostering flexibility
and work/life balance. Leaders jumping aboard this accelerating trend towards this vision of the workplace will be better placed to succeed in the future of work.

In February, reporter Rafael Zen chatted with urban geographers Meg Holden and Sarah Moser about urban resilience in light of our experience with COVID-19. For them, the pandemic not only revealed deep inequalities that run through existing urban planning but exposed the systemic inadequacies of responding to slower emergencies, such as housing affordability, local business closures or urban overcrowding. They argue that marginalized voices must be present in any future urban planning to help make new realities possible and offer resilient solutions that may be overlooked by those more fortunate.

In March, reporter Curtis Seufert wrote a Verbatim column about coping with our collective social isolation during the pandemic. Seufert finds that he and many of his friends downplay their own struggles and stresses, relative to others who may be going through worse problems. While it is healthy to be empathetic of other people’s difficulties, he argues that people’s own struggles count just as much as others. What’s important to recognize is that everyone’s in this world together and that we should welcome support from others as much as we want to provide support.

Social issues at the forefront

In April, reporter Geoff Russ interviewed City of Vancouver sustainability specialist Angela Danyluk who hosted a webinar on climate change action. Danyluk remarked how extreme weather events, like droughts, forest fires and floods, will tend to become more common over the next few decades. Danyluk argues Vancouverites will not be able to ignore the effects of climate change much longer, since these changes will not only disrupt our natural ecosystem, but raise economic costs such as higher insurance and prices of food, fuel and consumer goods. Given all that’s happened in the province with the heatwave, flood and supply chain issues, her warning in April seems highly prescient.

During Asian Heritage Month in May, reporter Xi Chen covered the topic of the model minority myth and how this stereotype ends up homogenizing very different Asian communities into one group. Asians are frequently taught to keep their heads down and work hard in order to be successful, but for some this conflict-averse lesson can hide systemic discrimination and allow anti-Asian racism to thrive. Chen found that educating others and talking openly about this problem is the best way to tackle hidden discrimination and cultivate a healthier relationship with Asian communities.

In June, reporter Liangmei Li spoke with UBC doctoral researcher Bonnie Tulloch to examine how youth use internet memes to communicate information and develop digital citizenship. Memes take a situation, event or image from a specific situation and apply it to new contexts, raising questions of privacy and authorship rights. Tulloch’s research focuses on how students engage with memes and she hopes to use her completed research to help schools create curriculums to foster positive and accountable digital citizenship and reduce instances of hate speech and cyberbullying.

Using art to visualize new worlds

In September, reporter Selin Oğuz covered the Vancouver Maritime Museum exhibition, If I Lived in the Ocean, an immersive underwater experience by artist Paula Nishikawara. With climate change, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss becoming more acute, Nishikawara wanted to ask how humanity can take collective responsibility and create sustainable environmental systems to protect nature and life. Through her use of the Japanese art form gyotaku, she hopes to engage her viewers’ senses and emotions and to inspire their curiosity and question preconceived attitudes towards the environment.

During B.C. Culture Days in October, reporter Aman Chung interviewed Mexican comic book artist and instructor Laura Rivera about her experiences growing up with comics. Coming from a media culture that stereotypes female characters as helpless and timid, Rivera strives to create strong female heroes with compelling stories in her comics. By opening up the process of comic creation to everyone, she hopes to expand comic representation in order to allow budding artists to pursue their dreams.

In November, reporter Isha Ohri spoke with director Trevor Mack about his latest film Portraits from a Fire. This coming-of-age story features Tyler, an Indigenous teenager making films in his native community, and whose latest film about his mother’s disappearance leads to a reckoning and opens up deep-seated secrets about his reserve. Mack wanted to create a film that resonated not just within the Indigenous peoples but anyone who has experienced intergenerational trauma in their community – finding one’s truth may involve reopening old wounds and having the courage to face what results from that.

We will return in the new year continuing to report on the people living and working in our city, creating art, promoting understanding and enriching our community. On behalf of everyone at The Source Newspaper, we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season and a better new year to come.