Minister of Multiculturalism, Official Languages and La Francophonie for a Weekend

Raymond Kobes, BA, French Major & Business Minor, 2018 

“I went to Victoria for University Model Parliament” says Raymond Kobes. It was there in January 2018, that the UFV French alumnus and member of Universities Model Parliament was selected to be the Minister of Multiculturalism, Official Languages and La Francophonie for a weekend.

“Basically when you go to Model Parliament, it’s as if Ottawa was postponed and you were actually in Ottawa as the official representatives and members of parliament” says Kobes. Over the course of the weekend, Kobes was responsible for three portfolios: Multiculturalism, Official Languages and the French culture.

In this role, Kobes was expected to field questions by the opposition regarding certain bills that related to his area. “It was really neat because there were so many different opinions and different world views… but when it came down to it, we were all there for a common goal of learning how to get involved in the political world and how we can best make a better Canada” he says.

To be an effective member of parliament, Kobes recommends becoming a good orator because a large part of the job will include giving speeches and asking or responding to questions from either side of the House of Commons. He also recommends becoming bilingual. “The best part about [being a Minister] was that I got to use my French in the House… and got to share with other people why those things are important” says Kobes.

Growing up in Abbotsford, Kobes was drawn to politics at an early age and dreamed of one day becoming a member of parliament. “I look forward to my future in politics, hopefully, as a member of parliament in the future and a lot of that has to do with my education here at the University of the Fraser Valley” says Kobes.

Kobes graduated this June 2018 from UFV. He is set to teach French for one year at Credo Christian High School in Langley starting September 2018, and then plans to become heavily involved in the Canadian federal election in 2019.

To watch Raymond’s short video interview, click on the link: https://bit.ly/2NloL72

To watch Raymond’s full video interview, click on the link: https://bit.ly/2mr2vx2

Eyém Sqwà:l – UFV’s Literary Café at the Harrison Festival of the Arts

Eyém Sqwà:l = Strong Words @ the Harrison Festival of the Arts

Date: Monday, July 9 at 8:30pm 2018
Location: Memorial Hall

Tickets: Adult $28.00 ($25 til June 22nd)      Student/Senior $25.00 ( $23 til June 22nd)

UFV’s Literary Café at the Harrison Festival of the Arts offers an intimate opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the West Coast’s brightest writers and poets.

This year’s theme Eyém Sqwà:l : Strong Words, celebrates the voices of two powerful Stó:lō multi-media artists and their oral, performance-based style, along with world-renowned spoken word artist, Shane Koyczan who has been called the “poet of our generation.”

KELIYA

Keliya is a poet, screenwriter, filmmaker and hip hop artist from the Stó:lō Nation. She is also a graduate from the UBC Film Studies Bachelor of Arts program and aims to tell stories about her people that are not only modern and traditional, but also from an Aboriginal perspective.

Keliya has travelled across Canada and the US performing for communities and youth. These are the people for whom she makes her art and she is passionate about spreading messages of empowerment and love in this way.

OSTWELVE

Ronnie Dean Harris aka Ostwelve is a Stó:lō /St’át’imc/Nlaka’pamux multimedia artist based in Vancouver, BC. He has worked as an actor and composer on the APTN/Showcase TV series, Moccasin Flats, toured internationally as a hip-hop performer, been a director, programmer and producer for the Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival and is now the Program Director for “Reframing Relations.” This Community Arts Council of Vancouver initiative allows Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to interface with students and youth in schools and communities around the concept of reconciliation. Check out his website @ www.ronniedeanharris.com

SHANE KOYCZAN

Shane Koyczan is an extraordinary talent who has blown the dust off the traditional designation “poet.” He is a writer and multi-media spoken word artist whose work has appeared in print, viral videos, opera and his own furiously-honest, award-winning performances. His first published collection, Visiting Hours, was the only work of poetry selected by both the Guardian and the Globe and Mail for their Best Books of the Year lists in 2005. Koyczan followed up on that success with Stickboy, a novel in verse that chronicled the dark journey of a bullied child. From these words of helpless rage, he was asked to produce the libretto for a full operatic produced by Vancouver Opera in 2014.

Our Deathbeds Will be Thirsty was released in 2012. The book features the piece, “To This Day,” a poem about bullying that went viral on Youtube, receiving over a million views in a matter of days. Most recently Koyczan embarked on a journey to discover his own origin story. One result is the documentary, Shut Up and Say Something, in which he meets his father for the first time. For more information check out: shanekoyczan.com

You May Be Wrong, But You May Be Right: Exploring Biases with Sven Van de Wetering

“People who think they’re always right are almost always wrong. People who are always willing to consider the possibility they’re wrong tend to be right much more often,” says associate psychology professor Sven Van de Wetering.

It is this basic conundrum that Van de Wetering wanted to explore in a course he’s designing — one that looks at ideological biases from a psychological perspective. Heuristics, Biases and Critical Thinking, will be available in Winter 2019 and Van de Wetering sat down with the College of Arts blog to talk about his inspiration for this new offering.

“We know a huge amount about how we, as human beings, fool ourselves,” says Van de Wetering. In fact, he says, there is no shortage of psychological literature on the topic and he recently found a book that listed 99 different biases, which he says isn’t even complete.

What isn’t discussed as much is how to recognize these biases in your own thinking and how to account for this not only in research, but in day-to-day discussions.

One of the things that led him to the topic is a recent crisis in his field of social psychology, where liberal thinkers have been accused of shutting out their more conservative-minded colleagues. Van de Wetering was at first determined to do some research into this question, but eventually he and his research assistant, Flora Oswald realized that what social psychologists really need is more help identifying their biases from the outset. He considered developing a workshop for his peers, but decided that those who chose to attend such a program were probably already aware of the need to take other perspectives into account.

“Maybe, what I need to do instead, is catch them young,” he told himself.

Fortunately, Van de Wetering, who has been teaching psychology at UFV for 20 years and has access to a new crop of students every semester, is in a good position to do this. Encouraged by Oswald, he came up with a 13-week course in about 20 minutes. Still he wasn’t sure how interested students would be in the idea of studying their own prejudices and biases, so he offered a prototype in winter 2018. The response, he said, was overwhelming.

Moving away from the typical lecture format, Van de Wetering asked students to do a great deal of reading ahead of time and then to spend class time discussing real-world issues through the lens of various biases. Issues like: should there be a ban on pit-bulls? (an interesting topic, but one Van de Wetering says he’ll probably never use again, as it was too inconclusive.)

Van de Wetering also made it clear from the outset that the students would have input into the way the class ran.

“Just about my first line . . . was ‘I am not the only smart person in the room. I’m counting on you guys to help me figure out what it is we’re actually doing to think critically in this course,’” he said.

Students, he says, loved being so involved. “I think I’ve touched a nerve – I think I’m offering something that they really, really want: relevance and an active role in the overall design of the course.”

With algorithms constantly directing content on our social media channels to things we’ve shown interest in before, Van de Wetering thinks a class about biases is particularly relevant today.

“If you are actually seeking the truth, having people echoing your prejudices back to you is not a good thing,” he says. “You want people to challenge you even if it turns out that they’re ultimately wrong.”

A Few Examples of Cognitive Biases

  • Confirmation Bias: Favoring information that conforms to your existing beliefs and discounting evidence that does not conform.
  • Halo Effect: Your overall impression of a person influences how you feel and think about his or her character. This especially applies to physical attractiveness influencing how you rate their other qualities.
  • Self-Serving Bias: The tendency to blame external forces when bad things happen and give yourself credit when good things happen. When you win a poker hand it is due to your skill at reading the other players and knowing the odds, while when you lose it is due to getting dealt a poor hand.
  • Narrative bias (from Van de Wetering): The tendency, when one has embraced a narrative that can be used to explain a certain group of facts, to ignore facts and possibilities that do not cohere with that narrative.