We are the Media

Yes, you. Gone are the days of the masses consuming media from a handful of sources. Today, anyone with access to the internet has a platform to share their stories. And it’s a beautiful and frightening thing.


Stencil art by Audrian Cassanelli

Social media is pushing the way we get our news in a new direction. While the average social media user usually doesn’t have the credibility of a professional journalist, they do have over 200 Twitter followers and 300 Facebook friends, on average. We’re not talking about an old man yelling at a cloud here. Social media users have real audiences, even if those audiences are entirely friends and family.

An endless stream of content

Journalists aim to break news first, and social media users are no different.We are social creatures. We love to tell stories, especially when we get to be the first person to tell it. This instinct encourages people to share their stories online as they happen. If their posts are interesting enough, they might even gain a true following or even become “internet famous”.

Social media is ingrained with the concept of curation. The retweet and share buttons weren’t created for decoration. Whether it be memes, viral videos, or sharing interesting or important news from other sources, we curate content to our audience that matters to us. Those audiences might go on to share our posts with their own followers.

Social media vigilantes

Social justice also plays a role in new media. We all hold each other accountable online now, and aren’t afraid to publicly shame someone whose views we find reprehensible. If a clerk at Safeway treats us poorly, it’s common to see the customer post a rant directly to the company’s social media account. If a someone parks like an asshole, they can expect to find a photo of their license plate circling around on Facebook. Anyone with a social media account and a phone can become a vigilante journalist.


This tweet by Kelsey Harmon went viral this month. The internet rallied around “Sad Papaw” to the point that Harmon’s cousins received several death threats.

But we also live in an age where you can accidentally make your grandpa internet famous by tweeting a sad-looking photo of him eating a burger. I think I like it that way.

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This week I saw Reservations, a play written by Steven Ratzlaff and performed at The Rachel Browne Theatre. The play had a two hour run time, but was divided into two smaller plays. As someone who doesn’t frequent the theatre, I’m not an authority on what constitutes a good or bad play, but I had mixed feelings about it.

The first play was about a father giving away the majority of his children’s land inheritance back to the Siksika people, to the dismay of his daughter, an aging actress from Toronto. The second play was about a foster parents voicing their concerns about whether or not their three foster children, indigenous siblings, should bother going for visits to their home reserve.

The title of the play seemed fitting to me, given the doubts some of the caucasian characters had about the steps being taken towards reconciliation concerning indigenous issues. It also seemed to me that the play was meant to start conversations about racial tensions in Canada. In that respect, I feel that it succeeded.

I enjoyed that the play highlighted both sides of the issues in a way where I could understand the character’s motivations and sympathize with them to an extent. I felt conflicted about what the morally “right” solution was in the story, and I think that’s the point.

As a piece of entertainment, the play could use improvement in a lot of areas. A large portion of the second play was taken up by a university lecture on philosophy of human displacement. It was interesting how the scene staged the audience as the lecture theatre students, but that was the only positive thing I can say about the scene overall.

This was the turning point in the play for me. The beginning had grasped my attention with the contention between indigenous issues and settler perspectives, but the philosophical lecture seemed like an indulgence on the part of the playwright–who portrayed both of the play’s male roles. I got the vibe that the playwright wanted to show off his intelligent, but the dense, inaccessible philosophy made my eyes glaze over.

The playwright was a part of a talkback session after the performance. His lack of meaningful answers to the audience’s questions left a bad aftertaste for me.

Negatives aside, the visuals for the play were gorgeous. Projection screens changed the scenes smoothly between from fields of wheat, wallpapers interior rooms, and even an airy lecture theatre.

I wouldn’t recommend the play, but I appreciate the conversations that the play has the potential to start. Indigenous issues are something I discuss at home frequently, but people without that experience would find the play fascinating and eye-opening.

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You can help make the University of Winnipeg divest from oil

The University of Winnipeg Student Association has repeatedly asked the University of Winnipeg Foundation to divest from its nearly 2.6 million dollars in oil company investments. In a rare opportunity, the university has put up an online risk assessment survey to gauge how the community in and around UWinnipeg feel about oil divestment.

You don’t need to be a student, or live nearby the university. You don’t have to be an eloquent writer. All you need to do is give five minutes of your time to fill out their short survey, and hopefully help the university come to the right decision.

Click here to fill out the survey.



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Photo Gallery: Exploring Souris

Yesterday, three classmates and I hit the road to visit Souris, Manitoba, roughly three hours outside of Winnipeg. The first person we met there was Frank G., owner of The Rock Shop, and his therapy dog, Tanner. After learning about the rich deposits of semi-precious stones and rocks in the area, Frank inspired us to go hunting for agate, a type of quartz abundant in Souris.

The agate pit was closed for winter still, but we found an area of exposed rocks along the riverbank in Victoria Park. Stuffing rocks into our pockets and empty hats, we took them back to Frank for examination. Lor, Will, and I found agate, but Alicia found two pieces of petrified wood.

Besides rock hunting, we checked out the swinging suspension bridge that divides the town. While we were there, a majestic cat approached us and got all the pets he could handle.

The weather was beautiful, and I feel refreshed and recharged from the trip. Sometimes sustainability is about giving yourself a break from the stress of everyday life. Getting outside to explore for awhile puts everything in perspective.

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What I learned from my first DIY deodorant

You might recall a post I wrote in November about a new back-to-basics deodorant I was trying for the first time. I just finished it this week, andI figured an update was in order. Long story short: I won’t be buying it again.

The good: I liked the earthy tea tree oil scent (although it might be a negative point for others), and the deodorant actually worked.

The bad: The consistency is sticky and slimy. Also, my arm pits became red and irritated a few times. It only happened two or three times spaced out over four months, but it wasn’t pleasant.

The ugly: The irritation from the deodorant caused my skin to noticeably darken. My armpits feel pretty leathery now, just in time for tank top season. The only reason I kept using it after this happened is because I’m broke and stubborn to a fault. They honestly don’t look that bad, and they’re slowly going back to normal, but it’s still a serious negative point.

Baking soda was a main ingredient in this deodorant, which I’ve heard can irritate sensitive skin. I haven’t given up on DIY deodorant, but I think this time I’ll buy something baking soda free. Learn from my experience and tread with caution.

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Save a Razor, Grow a Beard

In the spirit of voyageur culture, Manitobans ditched their razors and unleashed their woolly whiskers for Festival du Voyageur’s 34th annual Beard Growing Contest at CCFM (Centre culturel franco-manitobain) in Winnipeg, MB.

Contestants competed in four different categories: the festival beard (started clean shaven on Dec. 19), the voyageur beard (wild, woolly beardness), the novelty beard (groomed beards and mustachios), and the open category where female participants crafted their own beards.

The annual event has become the Manitoba’s mecca for beard appreciation, and raises thousands of dollars for the Heart and Stroke Foundation each year. With plenty of beer, music, and laughter, it’s the perfect excuse to forget the razor and embrace the your inner voyageur. Heho!


MC Gabriel Gosselin and Daniel Leclair, president of the Festival du Voyageur, discuss the success of the festival and get the crowd excited at the 34th annual Beard Growing Contest./SAVANNAH KELLY


Mick Morgan shows off his new beard. It’s the first one he’s ever grown, but just slightly too new to enter the festival beard category./SAVANNAH KELLY


MC Gabriel Gosselin jokes with contestant Daniel Campbell about the key to growing a great beard. “It really comes down to laziness,” says Gosselin./SAVANNAH KELLY


A would-be “beardo” comes face-to-face with a beard growing veteran during the voyageur category./SAVANNAH KELLY


Anthony Domienik and Derek Lahey display their meticulously groomed beards in the novelty category./SAVANNAH KELLY


Spectators come in for a closer look as the judges prepare to announce winners./SAVANNAH KELLY


Wayne Pritchard (far right) celebrates his first place win in the voyageur beard category with his second and third place counterparts. His beard is 30 years old./SAVANNAH KELLY

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5 Eco-Documentaries on Netflix You Should See

Ready to hate the human race? Good, me too. These documentaries will open your eyes on topics like  bottled water, the dark side of the beef industry, and fast fashion. The truth can be inconvenient, but willful ignorance is worse. Fortunately, we are able to see inside these industries better than ever before, thanks to documentaries like these:

  1. Food, Inc, 2008.
  2. Cowspiracy, 2014.
  3. Tapped, 2009.
  4. Chasing Ice, 2012.
  5. The True Cost, 2015.

Tell me about your favourite eco-documentaries in the comments.

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Reusable water bottles are S’well

If I told you that 200 billion plastic bottles become landfill every year across the world, would you reconsider buying that case of Aquafina?

Other liquids like milk and soda come in plastic jugs and bottles, and there’s not much you can do about that. Water is a different story: it’s accessible on tap. All you need to provide is the vessel. So why not do it?

All of the water fountains on my campus are outfitted with spouts for refilling bottles, and it’s becoming a trend in public spaces. It’s easier than ever to phase plastic water bottles out of our lives, yet I still see students on campus all the time carrying them.

The benefits of using a reusable water bottle make it hard to find an excuse not to use one. I bought a S’well bottle in September, and I love it. It’s insulated metal, great for hot or cold drinks. If I bring tea or hot chocolate to school in the morning, it will still be warm and ready to drink when I get home in the evening. Plus, it’s a damn nice bottle.

Challenge yourself to reduce or eliminate your plastic bottle intake. And if you see me drinking from a plastic water bottle, feel free to smack it out of my hands.




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This blue dot is all we’ve got

The blue dot I’m referring to is our planet. Compared to the rest of the universe, that’s really all we are: a small, insignificant blip in the cosmos.

Blue Dot is a movement started by the David Suzuki Foundation that aims to protect this blip of ours. Their goal is to get an environmental bill of rights added to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The movement believes that all people have the right to a clean environment, safe water and food, and a stable climate. Not an unreasonable request, right?

Cities across the country are voting in support of Blue Dot, putting pressure on the federal government to take action, and provincial governments are beginning to get involved.

Add your voice to over 91,000 Canadians who have recognized our right to a sustainable and clean future by signing the Blue Dot declaration.


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Why You Should Switch to Stovetop Popcorn

I’ve been eating a lot of popcorn lately, but I feel guilty every time I toss one of the microwave bags in the trash. I’d never made popcorn on the stove before, but weighing out the benefits of stovetop popcorn and the drawbacks of microwave popcorn inspired me to make the switch.

Drawbacks to microwavable popcorn:

  • Microwavable bags cannot be recycled. They’re destined for landfill.
  • Artificial butter flavouring is bad for your health. This column from Treehugger discusses a respiratory condition known as “popcorn lung”, caused by inhaling the artificial flavouring. If it’s bad to inhale, it’s bad to consume.

Benefits of stovetop popcorn:

  • Less packaging.
  • It’s a fun activity for kids, or kids at heart. I couldn’t help but giggle as the kernels started to pop in earnest.
  • The taste is remarkably different from microwave popcorn: it tastes real, not filmy and synthetic like the popcorn coated in “butter flavouring” you get in many microwavable bags.
  • You have the freedom to choose how much you make.
  • It’s cost effective. We bought a 2kg bag of kernels for under $3, when you can easily pay $5 for one quarter as many grams of microwave popcorn.

If I’ve convinced you to give stovetop popcorn a chance, look no further for a foolproof recipe. Seriously, if I can do it, you can too.

Stovetop Popcorn:

Cook time: 5 – 10 minutes


  • kernels
  • vegetable oil, or whatever oil you have on-hand.
  • butter and salt to taste (optional)



1 ) Grab a pot or pan with a lid. Put just the pan on medium-high heat.

2 ) Pour oil into the pan until you have a thin, unbroken later of oil covering the bottom.

IMG_8915    3 ) Throw a few kernels into the oil.

4 ) When the kernels pop, move the pan away from the heat.


5 ) Pour the desired amount of kernels into the pan, making sure they lay in one single layer. If you have a pile of kernels they won’t cook evenly, and you could end up with burnt popcorn.

6 ) Keeping the pan off the heat, put the lid on and wait for about 30 seconds. This gives the kernels and chance to heat up, so they’ll be primed to start popping.

7 ) Put the pan back on the heat with the lid slightly ajar. By letting the steam escape, you’ll end up with crispier popcorn.


8 ) Once the kernels really start popping, hold the pan and lid securely and begin to gently shake the pan back and forth.



9 ) When you hear a 1–2 second gap between pops, remove from heat and pour into a bowl.


Optional: Melt butter and add salt to taste. You can melt butter in the still-hot pan, or microwave it. There you have it: delicious popcorn you can feel good about.

Special thanks to my partner for being my model.

Have an awesome popcorn recipe? I’d love to hear it in the comments.



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