Canada In Film

mommy posterOut of the countless industries to take a TKO hit this year, one particularly close to my heart is the film industry. Chris Nolan might have deluded himself into believing his new film Tenet will reopen the theatre industry this summer (and that, if it does, people will actually show upbut I’m less optimistic. As someone who normally loves the theatre experience—the big screen, the excitement, the popcorn—the last thing I want to do in the midst of a pandemic is sit in an enclosed room full of strangers for two hours. Even if theatres employ social distancing measures and only partially fill the roomsthe best result is still drastically reduced ticket sales. I’m no business major, but for Tenet to make back its $200 million budget in 2020…it’s just not realisticEven with the push toward drive-in showings this summer, there are only so many drive-in options and not everybody has a car.  

But if even a guaranteed blockbuster from the creator of Inception and The Dark Knight struggles to make bank, what does that mean for smaller releases? The Canadian film industry is precarious on a good day; historically dominated by the US, Canadian filmmakers have always struggled to carve out a space for themselves in their own backyard. And when I say always, I mean always: back in 1930, at the beginning of what we understand Hollywood to be, Maclean’s called the American film industry “a movie Mussolini” (a fantastically extra description) in an article on “the ‘screen war’ which has resulted in virtual domination of the Canadian motion picture field by a gigantic United States corporation.” The culture was already set: audiences were drawn to the higher-budget, flashier productions from south of the border. 

Cut to today, and this same mindset exists. It’s funny, because plenty of films and TV shows are filmed in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver—our little Hollywood Norths. Toronto is well known as a hotbed of filming, always dressed up as Chicago or Baltimore or some equivalent American city. Vancouver is Netflix and CW heaven: RiverdaleThe Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The 100, Charmed, The Flash, and Supernatural are all filmed there (and that’s only a sample). But, being American productions, none of these shows or movies take place in Canada. Even our brilliant hometown success story, Schitt’s Creekis careful not to mention its Ontario locale, despite very obviously being set here (the motel is in Orangeville), lest it scare off American viewers 

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Cultural Appropriation in Food & Elsewhere

Cover of book White Negroes by Lauren Michele JacksonNot to hit you all over the head with the message that systemic racism is an issue that permeates basically every sphere – though it is and if you needed the reminder, here it is – but let’s talk a little about cultural appropriation and racism in the food industry (specifically at Condé Nast with their Bon Appétit magazine), because recipe sharing over social media has boomed in these past few months due to quarantine, and many of us have been baking and cooking a lot more than before and following new bakers and cooks/chefs for their recipes.

For anyone who’s thinking about why I’m dragging politics into food and cooking, because isn’t food just food? Food brings people together! People bond when eating together at the same table, right, and what better way to learn about other cultures than to incorporate their food into your life? That’s great and all, but let’s think about what happens when that food gets removed from the culture whence it (or its influence) came. When recipes such as the Internet famous Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric* by Alison Roman makes no reference whatsoever to perhaps Indian curries or maybe Caribbean curry or any other “ethnic” food culture she might’ve been inspired by – because did Roman invent this combo, or were there influences from other cultures that should at least be cursorily mentioned? Just think about what a surreal experience it must be for anyone who has grown up with something similar to #TheStew to see it show up without any reference to their culture, and then further see this disembodied aspect of their culture go viral… without any credit to their culture? Personally, I think basically everyone ultimately stands to gain by discussing the politics of food, first because as Socrates in the words of Plato said, “the unexamined life is not worth living” and there is lots to uncover and examine when it comes to food and the politics and histories of the dishes themselves in addition to  the food industries and how they contribute to or are influenced by systemic racism; but also because the more you know about the food you eat and/or cook, I think, the more you learn to appreciate the food. As this article from The Atlantic (talking about food media in this quote, but on the topic of whiteness in the food industry as an article): “Devoting more coverage to the social and economic realities that drive the industry—rather than only discussing dishes in a vacuum—has allowed for more meaningful explorations of how food brings people together.” (Giorgis, The Table Stays White).

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10 Different Ways to Celebrate Canada Day 2020 in Vaughan

Photo of a Canadian flag

July 1 marks Canada’s 153rd birthday (or at least, 153 years since Confederation in 1867). This year’s Canada Day celebrations will look a lot different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still plenty of things to do at home and online. Here are ten ideas to celebrate Canada Day 2020:

 

 

 

1. Check out the City of Vaughan Virtual Canada Day Celebration

City of Vaughan Canada Day celebration bannerThe City of Vaughan will host a free virtual Canada Day celebration from 5:00 – 8:00 pm on July 1 to allow Vaughan residents the opportunity to celebrate safely and comfortably from home. The featured performers will be beloved Canadian band the Barenaked Ladies! Additional entertainment will include musical performances by the pop group Mini Pop Kids and pop/R&B band The Free Label, a cirque-style LED performance with Spin Starlets and electric violinist Dr. Draw, a comedy performance by Susan Stewart, and a dance lesson from Kreative in Dance Styles (K.I.D.S.). There will be an official welcome from Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua and members of Council, as well as videos from community members sharing what Canada Day means to them. The event will be hosted by Ashley Greco from 104.5 CHUM FM and is presented by Greenpark Group. Check the City of Vaughan’s website for up-to-date information.

 

2. Read a book by a Canadian author

Book cover of Washington BlackCanada is home to many talented, award-winning authors from diverse backgrounds. Find your next read with this list of recent award winners. All titles are available electronically, either through OverDrive or Hoopla Digital.

For younger readers, check out this list of recommended Canadian picture books. These books are available through TumbleBook Library, and each has an animated read-aloud video that goes with it.

 

 

3. Watch a Canadian movie

DVD cover of IncendiesKanopy provides access to wide array of Canadian cinema, free with your library card!  Check out Incendies, the story of a pair of twins who, at the reading of their mother’s will, discover that their father may not be dead after all, and they have a brother they didn’t know existed. The film won Best Canadian Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2010 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in 2011.

You can also head over to the National Film Board of Canada website to find more Canadian content to watch for free, including fiction, documentaries, and cartoons for kids.

 

 

4. Listen to Canadian music

Album cover of Views by DrakeArtists like Justin Bieber and Drake are household names around the world. Indeed, Canada has a wealth of musical talent worthy of a listen during your Canada Day festivities. Hoopla Digital has music from many popular Canadian artists, including The Weeknd, Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies, The Tragically Hip, Arkells, Metric, Alessia Cara, and many more!

If you’re feeling like a bit of 90s nostalgia, check out this list of 90s CanRock albums, all available to stream through Hoopla Digital with your library card.

 

 

5. Have a virtual party with friends and family

Houseparty logo

© Life on Air Inc.

If you can’t be together in person, get together online! There are several apps that you can use for video chats or to play interactive games online. Houseparty is an app for video chatting that includes a few games, such as Chips and Guac, which is similar to Cards Against Humanity. Bunch has several free games, such as Draw Party, which is like Pictionary. Or play a game of trivia on QuizUp. VPL has a quick guide to using these apps, as well as a video on how to use popular video chat apps Zoom and FaceTime.

 

 

6. Get dressed in your Canada gear and get outside

Image of a Canadian flag made of flowersAs of June 19, the City of Vaughan has opened tennis courts, skateboard parks, basketball courts, bocce courts, sports fields and baseball diamonds, picnic tables and gazebos, trails, the off-leash dog park and parking lots (please check the City of Vaughan website for safety requirements). Get outside and take advantage of these amenities, go for a walk with your family, or organize a socially distant O Canada singalong with your neighbours. But what if it rains? If you still want to get active, VPL has a guide to fitness apps for working out at home.  You can also find fitness videos from Recreation Vaughan on Instagram. And if you have kids, why not check out our selection of STEAM videos featuring fun and educational activities you can do at home, or our storytime playlist on YouTube.

 

7. Fire up the grill!

Book cover of Total Grilling Manual

Hoopla Digital has a great selection of cookbooks with recipes for barbecuing, including vegan options. You can also find guides to making your own desserts and cocktails. Or support your favourite local restaurant by visiting a patio or ordering takeout (just be sure to check their hours ahead of time).

 

 

 

8. Learn a little Canadian history

Photo of Viola Desmond

©AFP/Getty Images

Do you remember those Canadian heritage minutes that used to air on TV? It turns out you can watch them online through Historica Canada. Learn about important moments and figures in our nation’s history, such as Viola Desmond, who challenged segregation in Nova Scotia when she refused to leave a whites-only section of the Roseland Theatre, or Jim Egan, an activist whose court challenge to receive spousal benefits for his same-sex partner led to sexual orientation being read into the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a protected ground of discrimination. This decision paved the way for additional LGBTQ+ rights, such as same-sex marriage.

 

If you’d like something more in-depth, you can find books on Canadian history on Hoopla Digital. Or quiz your friends and family with some Canadian trivia. The Big Book of Canadian Trivia has lots of fun facts about our home and native land.

9. Make a virtual visit to a local tourist attraction

Photo of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

© McMichael Canadian Art Collection

VPL’s popular Experience Vaughan passes may be on hold, but our community partners have virtual programming to keep you and your family entertained. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection offers free virtual guided tours (registration required).  You can also visit their eMuseum with over 6,500 pieces of art, available anytime.

If you have an interest in history, take a trip back in time and explore the exhibits at Black Creek Pioneer Village. Learn about heritage trades such as printmaking and rug hooking or explore Flynn house, home of the Flynn family, who immigrated to Canada from Ireland.

Several museums are offering virtual tours of their collections. The Royal Ontario Museum has virtual exhibits  and collections, including artwork from around the world. You can also tour the collections of the Aga Khan Museum or view videos featuring performing arts like music, dance, and comedy. For shoe lovers, the Bata Shoe Museum has three virtual exhibits: All About Shoes, which highlights the footwear traditions of Indigenous groups and Canada’s multicultural communities, On Canadian Ground: Stories of Footwear in Early Canada, presented by Virtual Museum Canada, about methods of footwear construction used by Indigenous and immigrant groups in Canada, and Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels, hosted by the Google Arts and Cultural Institute.

And just for fun, take a virtual ride on one of Canada’s Wonderland’s roller coasters or thrill rides.

10. Tell us why you love Canada

Photo of a Canadian flag made of bricks

Leave a comment telling us what you love about Canada, or post a photo of your family in your Canada gear on social media and use the hashtags #VPL@Home and #TogetherVaughan.