Autumnal Equinox Fashion Wear for 2015

Fall is upon us, but don’t pout because this means we begin a brand new fashion year. It is an exciting line focusing on the 60’s retro look. Yes styles once coveted by fashion muses such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, which inspired the tent dresses, minis, elephant pants, and eclectic, colorful patterns.
Continue reading Autumnal Equinox Fashion Wear for 2015

Just-in-time or on-call work schedules: is it time to make some changes?

Imagine having to schedule your week around being available for work at an hour’s notice, or just about as bad, having your shift cancelled at the very last minute of your day – and this for a minimum wage job with limited hours. Yet it’s happening. The practice, often called “on-call scheduling” in Canada, has become widespread among retailers and restaurants in both Canada and the United States. It preys on the vulnerabilities of young people, desperate for work.

On-call work scheduling makes it hard for employees to plan their financial lives. One week they make get 15 hours, the next 30 or occasionally more. These are often minimum or just above wages and it is hard to make a weekly $150-$300 pay cheque (minus deductions) stretch to cover rent and food for the month when rents range upwards of $500.

“I just want more hours,” wailed a distraught Holly Burke, who had to quit a second job when she couldn’t make her schedules mesh due to employer unpredictability. Now she is trying to fit in some university courses to give her the credits needed so she can go back to school full-time for a technical job and she is finding the conflict between classes and her work hours even more stressful.

This erratic scheduling means is that it is almost impossible to go to school and it is certainly impossible to have a second job – you are always at the mercy of that last-minute call. If you want to keep your primary, “permanent” job, then you must respond when they call.

In addition to saving money for labour during slow periods, employers save on benefits. Many group insurance plans, for example, require at least a regular 20-hour-work week for eligibility.

The typical response to the hardships this imposes is for governments is to increase minimum wages, but this just squeezes the worker harder as companies turn to automated scheduling algorithms to reduce costs with ever tighter schedules. This causes more stress on the worker, not less, as hours shrink or become ever more irregular.

Reforms being considered in the U.S. include requiring a two-week notice of schedule, a penalty of four hours pay to the scheduled worker if they are sent home after reporting for scheduled work and extra pay if changes are made less than 24 hours before a shift.

Just-in-time work schedules are in force at many large retailers, including the Hudson Bay Company, but some others are in the midst of changing; The Gap will end the practice at the end of September. Victoria’s Secret has already done so in the U.S. These measures are being taken because employers are beginning to see the negative effects: poorly trained, unmotivated workers, being at the top of the list.

Here is the current law regarding on-call scheduling in Manitoba:,wages,factsheet.html

The dirty truth: what it takes to keep downtown clean

I smell like garbage. But that’s okay. I had the best day of the year this past week when I helped clean up downtown with the Downtown BIZ’s clean team.
Every now and then, I take to the streets with our front-line staff. It’s important to get your hands dirty, to see firsthand how your staff and the incredible work they perform impact our downtown. To get a better sense of what they do and how they do it. To understand and appreciate their challenges. To hear their ideas on how we can make their jobs more exciting, meaningful, and easier. So, I traded in my suit for a forest green uniform, work boots, a safety vest, and got an opportunity to get to know the people and the lives of my crew who serve as incredible ambassadors for our downtown.

I wanted to help clean up downtown with my team to show them how proud I am of them. I wanted my clean team to know that I appreciate the work that they do. And no doubt this week’s engagement with my team proved to deliver on this and more. Now that I have seen them in action, I can speak with confidence and integrity when I talk to the media or to our 1,300 members about how clean downtown truly is.

Hanging out with the team also reaffirmed my belief that they truly believe that they can transform the downtown daily. It’s obvious that our downtown-cleaning program is managed well and it shows. Picking litter, power washing sidewalks, cleaning bus shelters, removing graffiti and more – these are just a few of the daily tasks undertaken. I fear the day we stop. Because the trash, litter, and grime will not stop. It’s a daily war on downtown trash and litter. A war that we’re winning.

But it’s going to take the commitment of our entire community to keep downtown looking clean and great. Many of our business and property owners go the extra mile to keep areas around their buildings clean and tidy. They wash their windows, sweep the sidewalks. Thank you for caring when many others still don’t! And thank you to the many downtowners who move out of the way so we can do our job, and who smile and thank us when we keep sidewalks free of debris and garbage.

What I also learned was how businesses are creating jobs for people to improve the cleanliness of the downtown. Through their funding, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has been able to employ nearly 22 full-time and part-time clean team employees. When I took a break during lunch to hang with the team, I was touched by a moment between Brendan, a clean-team employee, and his wife – they were chatting over Skype. She was incredibly proud of Brendan for working hard to put food on their table. It’s a tough job.
But it’s incredibly rewarding and steady. I’m proud of the people who work for us. They are the definition of family.

My brief experience with my clean team was rewarding for many reasons. Deep down, I am envious of the daily sense of accomplishment they are able to feel at the end of every day. I certainly felt it. Working in a suit behind a desk can create change, too, but it often takes much longer to achieve.

When I came home to my kids to kiss them good night, they asked why I was limping, aching and sore. All I told them was that I had a hard day at work.

Thanks team.

Creating a Masterpiece

Winnipeg Art Gallery Director and CEO Dr. Stephen D. Borys. Photo by Leif Norman

When Dr. Stephen D. Borys left a position in Sarasota, Florida to move to Winnipeg to become the Director and CEO of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, it may have seemed strange to some, but for Stephen it made a lot of sense.
“I grew up in Winnipeg. I hadn’t anticipated returning to Winnipeg, but this was perhaps the one job that would bring me back, and it did,” said Stephen. Prior to his return to Winnipeg, he had worked in Sarasota at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, where he oversaw the Museum of Art and Cà d’Zan Mansion collections and exhibition programs. Before that, he was the curator at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in Cleveland, Ohio. His first prominent role in art was as assistant curator in European and American art at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
“Sarasota was wonderful, Cleveland was wonderful as was Ottawa. They’re great cities. But it’s a combination of coming back as a former Winnipegger at not only a critical time in the WAG’s history, but at a critical time for Winnipeg that really convinced me. It’s an amazing period to be living in Winnipeg right now, and I didn’t want to lose that chance.”


Stephen’s road to the WAG started with a bachelor’s degree at the University of Winnipeg, followed by a master’s degree from the University of Toronto before completing his PhD at McGill. While studying, he assumed his life would be much different than it has become, but it was an experience at his first job after university that changed his perspective.
“If you had asked me in the final year of my PhD what I would be doing in the next 10 years, I assumed I would be an academic and teaching at a university” said Stephen. “My first job, which I secured a few weeks before defending my dissertation at McGill, was as a curator at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. That changed everything for me. I realized my interest and passion was actually in working with collections and the public. I’ve also maintained academic posts wherever I’ve been, so I’ve taught, but never full time.”
It’s convenient, if not coincidental, that the WAG sits only a couple of blocks from the U of W, where Stephen completed his bachelor’s degree. Not only does it easily allow him to continue teaching, but it also means a large group of potential visitors is well within walking distance.
“I have a long history with the U of W, as does the WAG. The fact that there are 10,000 students studying a few blocks away is such an opportunity. It’s critical for us to open up our spaces for lectures, as we do, and the programming and the curriculum overlap has been critical. As a professor in the history and cultural studies department, I teach for one reason only: to learn. I teach a graduate course called The History of Museums and Collecting. For me to lend my expertise as an academic and a museum professional is one thing. But to hear from students on what the role of museums today are, why do we collect, why do we build these structures to hold these objects, what is the interface with the public? All those things are helping me be a better director.”
“With young adults, and the close proximity to the U of W, we have the opportunity to introduce, re-introduce or re-engage that age group to the art gallery. We link with people in three ways: the invitation, the welcome and the engagement. A lot of time we focus on the third one, the engagement. What kind of programs are we going to do, how are we going to give them access, how do you accommodate that type of demographic? But long before that comes the need to welcome them, and before that make sure there’s and invitation. To make sure that they know the WAG is for them, and that it’s accessible, it’s respectful, it’s welcoming, it’s low-key. You don’t have to dress up or speak in a certain way to be here. For every individual who walks through our doors, we have one chance to prove to them that it’s worth coming back. It’s that first experience that’s really important.”

Raison d’être: the Inuit Art Centre

When Stephen moved back to Winnipeg in 2008, there had been talk of building an Inuit Art Centre at the WAG to showcase a culture that many Canadians know about, but not many are able to experience the art and culture. The WAG currently holds the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art, with more than 13,000 pieces. The Centre would allow for many more of them to be displayed, compared to the small fraction available to be viewed to the public today. Funding and plans for the Centre are well underway, with plans for a four-storey, 40,000 square foot facility right next to the WAG. Stephen says that the role of Winnipeg in terms of indigenous art and culture is critical.
“The WAG has been collecting and exhibiting Inuit art for about 60 years. We’ve established the largest contemporary collection in the world. We’ve published more and we’ve exhibited more than anybody else. You could say we’re the experts or the leaders, and I think we should be doing more. I’d like us to become a voice and a platform for the Inuit. It’s called a centre because it’s much more than a gallery.”
Stephen notes that the timing was right for his return to the city, with the Inuit Art Centre playing a key role in drawing him back.
“The Inuit Art Centre project and the WAG moving into its second century was pretty exciting. To be able to come back to Winnipeg, and give back a little bit, was enticing. The Inuit Art Centre project has become my raison d’etre. We had been talking about doing this for twenty years, and why hadn’t we succeeded? But when I reflect, if we had built it 20 years ago it would be very different. To build it today in a city with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, with the Journey to Churchill at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, with issues good, bad, challenging and amazing in terms of indigenous culture, I think this is the place for me.”

Focus on the viewer

There are many different viewpoints on art, but Stephen says the WAG is not there to tell you what to like. Rather, it is there to showcase a wide variety which allows the viewer to come to their own conclusion.
“You go from Greek and Roman, to the 100 Masters, to Salvador Dali, to Inuit to contemporary in your face, to Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’, which was amazing film and video work, then art that makes you question ‘is that art’. It’s important to offer diversity.”
“We don’t tell you what’s good and what you need to see. We try to lay it out and let you decide, and give you options over the course of the year.”

Do you smell what the Rock Band is cooking?

by Drew Nordman

September started with a bang as Konami delivered one of the best reviewed video games of the the past decade. Despite its bumpy road to release, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain currently sits at 94 (out of 100) on review aggregate Metacritic. If this truly is the last Metal Gear game created by Hideo Kojima, I can rest easy knowing that he knocked it out of the park. That being said, Fall has just begun and there’re still a metric ton of games on the horizon as we approach the holiday season. Here are some of my most anticipated titles to keep an eye out for in October.

Brought into the limelight during the mid to late 2000s by such franchises as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, the rhythm gaming genre was a phenomenon that left gamers thunderstruck (AC/DC pun intended). For those unfamiliar, it’s a pretty novel concept; you and your friends/family pick up mock guitars or drums and rock out to some the greatest songs in modern history through the rhythmic and well-timed pushing of buttons. Unfortunately, it was a novel concept that proved to be a bit too novel for its own good. In 2009, the industry saw a steep decline in popularity of rhythm gaming when no less than four different music titles were on the market at the same time. Variety may be the spice of life, but when all of the games in a genre start to blend into one big homogenized mess, you’ve got a problem on your hands. The good news is, as with many things in life, the gaming industry goes in cycles. After a five year break from the core game, Rock Band developer Harmonix has come back to the series with fresh eyes, adding many features that address the issues that made its predecessors go stale so quickly. Instead of iterating upon itself with sequels year after year, Harmonix aims to have Rock Band 4 be a long term platform for new and existing content. By updating it regularly with free and paid patches to introduce new features, while providing new songs in the form of downloadable content, it sounds like they’re making some great strides towards giving the franchise some much needed staying power. Look for Rock Band 4 to hit shelves on October 6th for PS4 and Xbox One.

While not necessarily a new game, PS4 exclusive Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection compiles all three titles in the critically acclaimed Uncharted series and gives them a graphical facelift. I won’t beat around the bush here because I respect this series too much. This collection is a must own for any self respecting gamer, even if you’ve played them already. If you happened to miss out on this masterful trilogy when it was first released on PS3, Uncharted is the perfect combination of Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, and a Joss Whedon script. It’s got daring globe trotting adventure, cursed ancient relics, dastardly vaguely european villains, and is packed to the brim with enough one liners and quips that it would make Spider-Man blush. On top of all of that, it’s easily one of, if not THE most cinematic video game franchise of all time. With Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End recently announced to be coming out on March 18th, you have just enough time to play through all three and be caught up for what’s sure to be a dang masterpiece. The hype is real, people. The hype is real. Pick up all three for the price of one on October 9th.

This last entry is a bit of a wild card. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a huge Transformers fan. Unfortunately for my childhood, the movies in recent years have not done the franchise justice. Transformers: Devastation looks to be a pulse pounding action adventure and real return to form for fans of the old series. Instead of using the modern designs from the movies that are mostly indistinguishable hunks of metal, developer PlatinumGames has opted to use the aesthetic from the original and glorious G1 series. The cell shaded graphics are so slick that even screenshots look like they could be framed and hung on my wall. What makes me even more excited is that it’s developed by PlatinumGames whose past titles have never been anything short of frenetic and immensely enjoyably. Action and Transformers fans alike should look out for Devastation on October 6th for PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.


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