Does resumé whitewashing work?

March 20, 2016
Marilla Steuter-Martin

If Lamar J. Smith and L. James Smith have the same qualifications and apply for the same position, who is more likely to get called back for an interview?

Candidates with anglicized names are twice as likely to get that call, according to a new study out of the University of Toronto.

The study also found that “whitening” resumés can lead to more success on the job market for racialized minorities.

Researchers submitted the same resumé to several different employers in 16 different U.S. cities. They found that resumés with distinctly black names and experience — such as involvement with a black students’ association — had a callback rate of 10 per cent.

When both name and experience were “whitened” (the experience referred simply to a students’ associations), callback rates increased to 25 per cent.

The two-year study, published in the current issue of the Administrative Science Quarterly Journal, suggests “resumé whitewashing” is a common tactic used by racialized minorities to combat discrimination on the job market.

In a laboratory phase of the study, they found as many as 38 per cent of participants in a control group engaged in some form of “resumé whitewashing,” that is, changing names, education or experience to disguise signs of race.

That number dropped to 21 per cent, however, when the participants were applying to a company that made explicit a commitment to diversity.

Zeeta Maharaj is a Trinidadian-Montrealer who works in freelance media and modelling. While looking for work, she conducted a micro-experiment of her own, and was shocked by what she discovered.

“I needed to be my own social experiment,” she said.

“I was finishing up my education and I lost my position. So I was looking for work in media and education and I applied to a company with [my name] Zeeta Maharaj. And I didn’t get any callbacks.”

Feeling frustrated, Maharaj resubmitted her original resumé under the name Lisa King. The results were very different.

“I got a call back. Same exact resumé,” she said. “I asked why they called me back, and they said, ‘Your resumé sounds like its a perfect fit for the team.'”

Read the full article online here.

5 days for the homeless kicks off at Concordia, McGill universities

March 14, 2016
By Marilla Steuter-Martin
5-days-for-homelessWhat if tonight, instead of going home to a warm bed, you decided to sleep on the street?

That’s what a group of young people at Concordia and McGill universities are doing this week.

Students and community members are participating in the 5 Days for the Homeless campaign.

They’re sleeping outside for five nights to raise money for local shelters and services, with this year’s donations going to Dans La Rue and Chez Doris.

The national campaign started at the University of Alberta in Edmonton in 2005.

It came to Montreal in 2008, when Josh Redler, a Concordia student at the time, got some friends together and decided to launch a local edition of the campaign.

“The first year was amazing, because there were three of us with a few guest sleepers here and there, and the community came out in full support of it,” Redler recalled.

“People stopped us at 7 a.m. honking their horns, waking us up going, ‘I got 20 bucks for you,’ hanging out the window so you’d have to run out and grab it from them. That year we raised $42,000, which was way beyond what we expected.”

The Montreal effort has grown since then. The small group has had some high-profile visitors over the years, including Georges Laraque, Mayor Denis Coderre and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The campaign aims to mimic the real-life experience of homeless people, as participants are totally reliant on donations.

“The reality of being homeless is you that you have maybe one bag, or all your belongings are with you,” says Marina Boulos-Winton, executive director of Chez Doris.

Read the full article online here.

Concordia Now: From Kahnawake to the red carpet

March 4, 2016
By Marilla Steuter-Martin

Brittany LeBorgne, BA 12, star of Mohawk Girls, was “totally floored” to find out she’d been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award in January.

LeBorgne landed a leading role in the hit Aboriginal Peoples Television Network show while she was still a Concordia student. Already renewed for a fourth season, Mohawk Girls has broken barriers and records as the first Aboriginal comedy series to pick up four Canadian Screen Awards nominations.

Brittany LeBorgne, right, as Zoe, with and Devery Jacobs (Lollipop)
Along with the show’s nominations in the writing, directing and best comedy series categories, LeBorgne received a nod for her performance in a season two episode, “Bridesmaidzilla.”

Often referred to as a Mohawk version of Sex and the City, the cast of Mohawk Girlsfeatures a quartet of four strong female leads. Of these, LeBorgne plays the straight-laced Zoe, an ambitious and successful woman who learns to let loose.

“Telling the stories of these four girls makes our show universal for women,” says LeBorgne. “No matter where you’re from, every woman has some kind of common ground.”

Filmed in LeBorgne’s hometown of Kahnawake just outside Montreal, Mohawk Girlshas been praised for providing a fresh and funny look at modern life in Canadian Native communities.

“It’s funny that we’re the first to be nominated in those categories because I think a lot of people don’t know that Aboriginal people have a really great sense of humour,” she says.

Read the full article here.

BWW Review: BINTI’S JOURNEY at Black Theatre Workshop

February 19, 2016
By Marilla Steuter-Martin

CB1427EF-AC4A-ABDE-5AD57FDB8468E4A0Binti’s Journey is an original play based off the novel The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis.

The play follows the story of a 13-year-old girl living in Malawi whose world is rocked by the sudden death of her father.

The play, adapted by Marcia Johnson, was produced by the Black Theatre Workshop as a touring production for area schools in honour of Black History Month. Despite the younger demographic audience, the play deals with some mature themes including, death, AIDS, unwanted pregnancy and abuse.

Still, the play finds it strength in the balance it creates between the light and dark elements, easily flitting between the sombre and the joyous as only a child’s mind can. Binti starts off happy and carefree, a school girl with an acting part in a popular Malawian radio program. Everything changes when her father dies of AIDS and her siblings are split up and sent to live with abusive relatives.

Binti and her friend Memory are played by actual sisters Aiza and Dayane Nbitarikure. Aiza embodies the youthful charm and naivete of a 13-year-old girl teetering on the edge of grown-up anxieties. Dayane plays Memory, a new mother living with AIDS, whom she portrays with a great deal of presence and gravitas.

Jaa Smith-Johnson and Keren Roberts round out the four-person cast as Binti’s two siblings: Kwasi and Junie. The two bring a lot of energy to the performance, each playing multiple characters with light-speed transitions. Smith-Johnson, Roberts and Dayane Nbitarikure all relative newcomers to the scene, having been participants in the Black Theatre Workshop’s Artist Mentorship Program.

Read the full review online here.

BWW Reviews: IN SEARCH OF MRS. PIRANDELLO at the Wildside Festival

January 17, 2016
By Marilla Steuter-Martin

F77DA4AE-A8F5-7B43-57D9F6CF03D91105In Search of Mrs. Pirandello is a brilliant play by a young Montreal writer, Michaela Di Cesare. It first premiered at the 2015 Montreal Fringe Festival and has since become even more polished.

Running at the 19th annual Wildside Festival a the Centaur Theatre, the show chronicles a fascinating descent into history as the Di Cesare, who plays the role of The Searcher, investigates the story of Luigi Pirandello‘s ill-fated wife, Antonietta.

Based on the historical record, the play explores how a woman can become nothing more than a footnote in the biography of a great man, and how the push and pull of time can bring two different narratives into sharp focus.

As The Searcher digs for information about what happened to Antonietta before and after she was confined to a mental hospital for 40 years, the figures of Antonietta and Luigi come to life in the vivid performances of Tara Nicodemo and Davide Chiazzese.

Nicodemo is a new edition since the last incarnation of the show and she proves to be highly advantageous choice. She brings a sense of gravitas and power to the production that balances nicely with the overbearing personality of her husband. Chiazzese is a very versatile actor, and his performance of the manic, struggling artist Pirandello is without reproach.

Read the full review online here.

BWW Review: TRIBES at the Segal Centre

December 7, 2015
Marilla Steuter-Martin

B2AC8A7F-F6AB-F54F-E004E93640937000BWW Review: Tribes at the Segal Centre The Segal Centre’s production of Tribes is an astonishing breath of fresh air. It’s razor sharp, funny, edgy, foul-mouthed and hilarious. And it stars a deaf actor in the lead role of Billy.

There is something remarkable about seeing a deaf actor playing a deaf character onstage because it happens so infrequently in theatre and it brings so much respect and delicacy to the production. Jack Volpe, who plays Billy, is not only hearing impaired, but he’s a highly emotive actor. The grace with which he uses American Sign Language to express himself is absolutely captivating to watch.

Billy is the only deaf member of a loud, boisterous, intellectual family and while he’s learned to lip read and adjust as best he can, the lack of accommodation on the part of his family is a pervasive elephant in the room. When Billy meets Sylvia, a woman from a deaf family who is going deaf herself, everything changes for him.

While the romantic plot is an important element, it takes a backseat to the family drama that provides the main threads of action and tension to the plot. Billy’s father Christopher, played by the effortlessly funny Greg Ellwand, is the least supportive and most controversial member of the family. Christopher is a scholar who uses language as a weapon, memorably referring to someone as having “the charisma of a bus shelter.”

Read the whole review online here.

Quebec entrepreneur’s 1642 Cola prepared and bottled locally, plus features a hint of maple syrup

Oct. 13
Montreal Gazette

Many people agree with the philosophy of eating and drinking local products, but when it comes to our favourite sodas, there are fewer options on the market and more excuses to be made.

Bastien Poulain knows all too well it can be difficult to compete with established brand giants like Pepsi or Coke when it comes selling soft drinks, but he believes there is still room to grow.

Poulain is the creator of a local soda called 1642 Cola, after the founding date of Montreal. The drink is flavoured with maple syrup from the Laurentians, and certified local by the Aliments du Quebec.

Poulain hired a chemist to oversee the recipe development, saying it took nine months to complete the fomula. They conducted a series of blind tests, before everyone finally agreed on the finished product.

“There’s just a hint of maple syrup,” Poulain said. “It’s not too sweet.” On top of the ingredients, 1642 Cola is also prepared and bottled locally.

“The boxes are from Dorval, the bottling is done in Terrebonne, the labels are made in Anjou,” Poulain explained.

The company is intrinsically connected to Montreal — the bottle cap even features a silhouette of Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve.

Full article (and video!) here.


Review: The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God

Oct. 8

The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God is the most recent oeuvre from Canadian playwright Djanet Sears.

Put on in collaboration with the Black Theatre Workshop and the Centaur Theatre, the production was directed by Sears herself.

While the story addresses sombre themes of loss and grief, the play succeeds in creating a counterbalance of more lighthearted elements.

It tells the story of a woman, played by the effortlessly graceful and evocative Lucinda Davis, who struggles to move past the death of her child.

The cast features a large ensemble who help to move the action along with frequent interludes of original music and African-inspired dance. The music was strikingly beautiful in its simplicity. It was composed by Alejandra Nunez, with Sears listed as a co-composer. The vocalists on display were immensely talented, channeling a deep, soulful, almost-gospel tone throughout.

Read the full article here.

In Search of Mrs. Pirandello astounds

By Marilla Steuter-Martin
Published June 16, 2015

In Search of Mrs. Pirandello is an enthralling and vivid play that boasts an ingenious script, a cast of superb actors and a refreshingly original thesis.

This special look at one of literary history’s voiceless and forgotten players is both evocative and inspiring. Blending fascinating historical research with gripping prose, In Search of Mrs. Pirandello provides a post-modern commentary on mental illness, women’s issues and the artistic process.
The play follows the story of a young scholar, known only as the Searcher, who travels to Italy to learn more about the mysterious life of Luigi Pirandello’s wife Antonietta. After suffering a mental breakdown, she was institutionalized for “morbid jealousy” in 1919 and spent almost 40 years in an asylum.
The play was written by up-and-comer Michaela Di Cesare, a former playwright-in-residence at Montreal’s Imago Théâtre company.
Read the full story here.

CJLO Magazine: Theatre

Captain Aurora is a smashing success

By Marilla Steuter-Martin
Published June 14, 2015

Captain Aurora: A Superhero Musical hits exactly the right chord as this highly professional and fully fleshed-out musical comedy sings and dances its way into the Fringe history hall of fame.

The play tells the story of a banker-by-day/superhero-by-night lead who struggles to find purpose in an increasingly routine life. When her life is shaken up by political plot, alien invasion and the threat of exposure, Captain Aurora will have to rise to the challenge, regardless of the sacrifices she may unwillingly make on the way.

The play makes clever use of pre-existing and oft-overused comic book tropes and ultimately succeeds in lovingly parodying and paying homage to some of the elements that make classic superhero stories great.

Eva Petris, who shines in the role of Dawn and her alter ego Captain Aurora, is very talented and delightful to watch. Her enthusiastic performance is rivalled only by her impressive vocals and concrete commitment.”

Check out the full review here.