Culture, memes and intercultural competency

It is likely that if you are reading this blog post, you already know what a “meme” is; but do you know about “culture-jamming?”; and what does that have to do with memes? Long before memes became a staple of internet browsing, anything that disrupted the mundane nature of everyday life and the status quo with surprising, often comical or satirical acts or artworks fit the description in the 1980s.  Scholar Henry Jenkins notes, “culture jamming has now broadened its scope beyond parody ads and altered billboards. Culture jamming tactics are being used not only to contest consumer culture, but also to intervene in politics and social movements.”

Fast forward a decade or two and culture jamming is thought of almost exclusively as political statements about consumerism being portrayed through memes. According to  Kalle Lasn, one of the founders of Adbusters, the best culture jam is one that introduces a meta-meme, a two-level message that punctures a specific commercial image, but does so in a way that challenges some larger aspect of the political culture of corporate domination. There are however some like some researchers like Fink and DeLaure who harken back to the basic meaning of “meme” as” an image, word, or idea that is easily altered and repurposed and spread. They note that, yes, memes can achieve high levels of visibility and rapid, widespread reach … but as for their potential to disrupt or subvert, that depends on the specific content and context.

One aspect of context that needs further exploration is the ability (or not) of memes to reach outside of narrow cultural contexts. Perhaps we do not live in a completely globalized world.  This summer, student in my Introduction to Intercultural Communication (CMNS 180) course took on this question.

A submission by student Emili Kaplin takes on the topic living in the Fraser Valley, its agricultural focus and localized climates. She says of the “local june produce season” meme, the “People that live in climates that are always hot or always cold can not relate to local June produce season. Certain areas of the world can also not relate to the winter depression that one feels in a very rainy climate, when you don’t get much sun and therefore vitamin D. Also, it’s originally derived from the ‘are ya winning, son‘ meme, which adds a funny layer to it” and that’s a whole other story that you might have to look up 🙂 Maybe that one is more global – what do you think?


On the other hand, Tom Wilson says of the cooking “starter pack” meme, that people of cultures around the world can totally get it. He states “I’ve often walked into kitchens and said this exact thing, dreaming of some elaborate, potential meal, only to realize that the cook is simply browning onions and garlic. It has also become something of an inside joke between my friends and I. So I hope you all enjoy! This meme might be hard to interpret for people unfamiliar with the “starter pack” meme format, which attempts to boil down the essence of a particular subculture, celebrity, or individual into a series of related images. It would also be difficult to parse for anyone who isn’t familiar with garlic or onions or has never had this experience. (An aside: is there any cusine that doesn’t use onions or garlic?). Of course, the fact that it’s in English might also be a barrier to understanding the meaning of the meme.”

“I have used this meme because I feel like this meme applies everywhere around the world”, submits student Sandy Sidhu. He goes on to explain, “This meme represents how even though everyone tells you to love your skin tone. But still there are some ads that tell us white skin is superior; that every country has been under the influence” and goes on to explain that even his home country India give more importance to white skin superiority and there are so many companies which give promises to get a fair white skin in a short time period. “This is a issue which could hurt someone mentally and make them uncomfortable with their own skin.”

The Covid pandemic is certainly of global concern and Jimmy Brar says this meme that plays on the toilet paper hoarding phenomenon expresses more about our attitude towards life than about the actual pandemic. He says “you can have all the money in the world but you won’t be as happy as those who make just enough to enjoy life. Having too much money just messes with your mind and makes you think you are happy but in reality, you’re the sad one because if you get cocky all your relatives start to avoid you and leave you out of the group.” This is probably something that people globally can identify with even if toilet paper hoarding might not have been.

It is no surprise that one of these hard working students took on the topic of education with a meme about the struggle of studying vs. thinking about your future. [Sarah] notes that she chose the meme for this very reason – “because it relates to most if not all students around the world including myself. I feel like I am spending most of my time thinking about both short and long term future instead of focusing on the moment 🙂 especially at this time of the semester when it is about to end. It relates to how we overthink rather than work hard to earn good marks which might lead to bad consequences. Don’t do it :)” While the image may not represent everyone’s reality of studying, she feels the inner feelings are global and crosses over lines of culture.

Our final example for this blog was submitted by Jenna Duffin on the topic of “glamorizing” and is a good companion to the one above about studying. Her submission features an illustration of characters just hanging out and enjoying life with the full caption being: “Stop glamorizing the grind and start glamorizing whatever this is.” She says the meme is ultimately about “rejecting the hard work associated with “the grind” and taking pleasure in the simple things, like relaxation.”

She does think that, “The meme uses messaging that could confuse individuals who are not in-tune with North American online culture. The meme refers to “the grind”, a phrase that has become synonymous with working hard to get something that you want, particularly at your job or place of work. Someone who does not know what “the grind” is will probably not understand the meme without an explanation.” She goes on to explain that, “My friends and I are all in university or have recently joined the workforce. We all find ourselves pretty burnt out and overworked at times and this meme really resonates with us. It relates to how we would like to be living our lives (relaxing & being together in nature) but cannot, due to the expectations of society.

We don’t have any hard and fast answers on the question of whether memes can generally be interpreted across cultures but I think they certainly give us great insight into what is on the minds of our UFV students.

Further reading:

Fink, M. and DeLaure, M. (2017). Culture Jamming: Activism and the Art of Cultural Resistance (Eds.). NYU Press.

Microlecture time: CMNS represented by two faculty researchers

Microlecture promotional poster 2022

A big Thank You to Dr. Sumin Fang and Dr, Marcella LaFever for their recent participation in the annual two-minute microlecture challenge organized by the UFV Office of Research, Engagement and Graduate Studies.

Are you a user of fitness apps? Have you finally found one that meets your needs? Check out this two-minute video to learn about your “relationship” with your app 🙂

Thank you to Dr. Sumin Fang for telling us about her recently published research on User Experience (UX) of mobile fitness technology. Her article applies a public relations theory to examining humanlike relationships between users and their fitness apps. She argues that scholarship on how to establish and maintain good quality relationships with publics applys equally to users relationships with technology. Sumin’s work provides empirical evidence that human-like relationships exist along with what the relationship outcomes are. There is also a predictability element as to which users are likely to become long-term adopters of particular fitness apps. Finally, this project explores what particular technology features facilitate the sense of companionship for users.

On  a slightly different note, Dr. LaFever told us about her ongoing project related to diversity and inclusion in public dialogue and decision-making. With the help of her student Research Assistant Caitlin Garfias-Chan they collected data from municipality websites throughout British Columbia looking at the existence, the visual promonance, and the methods of engagement used in public engagement portals. You can read more about the project in a previous blog post but now, you have here a short audio explanation that highlights where the project needs to go next.

To check out more of the 2022 microlecture series you can find all the participant videos here.

Where there’s a WIL there’s a way

New graduates from university are often frustrated when they start looking for a job in their field because employers prefer applicants with relevant work experience.

cycle of experience and job needs
Source: LinkedIn

“How can I get relevant work experience in my field when every job posting wants me to already have work experience?”

One way to solve this common problem is through WIL – or Work-Integrated Learning. WIL takes a variety of forms. At the simplest level it can be a class assignment or project aimed at solving a real-world problem, sometimes with direct input and participation from the affected business or organization.

For example, this semester in CMNS 312: Public Relations Campaigns, Dr. Mai Anh Doan’s students are creating a public relations (PR) plan for an overseas client – the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam – to help increase awareness about business opportunities in Vietnam among Canadian business owners in the Lower Mainland. Some students will have the opportunity to implement this plan as a practicum project next year, part of the ongoing collaboration between the Communications Department and UFV’s Center for Experiential and Career Education.

At UFV students can apply for internships and co-op positions that place them within businesses, non-profits or government agencies where they can gain direct and relevant work experience while advancing their academic goals. The Center for Experiential and Career Education at UFV matches students with potential employers for co-op terms.

Work-study opportunities can be integrated with full-time studies at UFV. You’re committing to 120 hours of paid work in a professional environment over a single academic term. It’s a great way to make connections in your chosen field, gain experience to enhance a resume, and make some money at the same time.

Finally, many degree programs at UFV include a significant capstone course that involves community partners. Students apply what they’ve learned in their academic studies to solve problems or propose solutions to real-world situations.

Getting a degree is a huge step towards obtaining a career you’ll love. But earning some work experience along the way can make the process of finding a job after graduation much, much easier. WIL supplies you with tangible experience that employers can easily understand.

Interested? Talk to your program advisors at UFV to find out the specific WIL options in your area of study.

Public deliberation in B.C.: An audit of municipal website gateways

Guest blog and research by Caitlin Garfias-Chan 

Supervised by Marcella LaFever, Associate Professor CMNS 

Ever wish you could change something where you live but feel like nobody would listen anyway? Deliberative democratic theory has caught the attention of many public officials interested in improving their communities and the last 15 years in British Columbia has seen growth in municipalities creating processes for public participation and deliberation for community planning. Often, the entry point for participation in such initiatives is through municipal online portals. The two questions for this current research project were to investigate: 1) extent; and 2) ease of access for participation processes throughout British Columbia. 

Research by Knobloch, Gastil, Reedy, and Walsh (2013) define success in participatory processes as including analytic rigor (ensuring that decisions are based in facts and weighing all options; democratic discussion (ensuring that participants and process are relevant for the full diversity of the population); and well-reasoned decision (processing information from the, often conflicting, values and viewpoints of all affected parties). They also created a framework that defined and operationalizing six components: the context of the event, project design and setup, structural design, the discussion itself, experiences of the participants, and the output or product created.  

Online participatory processes being used as a part of the effort to increase the ways that residents can be part of democratic decision-making impacts especially on two of the measurable components of the framework outlines above, the context of the participatory event and in project design related to diversity of participants and the inclusion pf processes for intercultural communication (LaFever, 2009). We decided to start by quantifying the number of municipalities across British Columbia, whether they used online portals to invite public participation and how easy those links were to find. 


The first step in determining our sample was to define how many municipalities would be included in our analysis. After finding a list of B.C. municipalities we decided to include cities, towns, districts and district municipalities with a population of 10,000 or more (as per the 2016 census). The list included 91 entities for analysis. We note here also that the list did not include First Nation communities. 

Next was finding the data necessary and creating the criteria based on analysis. Using a spreadsheet, links to websites were used; both home pages and any engagement sites had dedicated spaces. At the same time, screenshots were used to emphasize further and provide proof of any possible engagement. The criteria are based on the opportunities given and how easy it is to find those same opportunities. It was noted that while some have an abundance of engagement projects, it was sometimes difficult to find them due to the website layout.  


Data shows that out of 91 municipalities, 35 have ongoing/active public engagement opportunities noted in their online presence (surveys, meeting the mayor events, engagement websites). These included municipality sizes from as large as Vancouver at a population of 631,486; to medium sized such as both Abbotsford and Chilliwack; to the smaller sized Mission at 38, 833 and places like Fernie and Creston with just over 5,000 population. Out of the 35 municipalities, 21 had their engagement tabs accessible in obvious ways at the top of the page and with wording that was directed at residents. And with very few clicks to get to a link that noted online public engagement opportunities. 14 had engagement sites that required a search through several “community” tabs or at the bottom of their homepage in small print. 

On the other hand, the majority, 50 municipalities, have no public engagement opportunities listed or only in ways not related to this research (i.e. speaking at council meeting). The additional six municipalities had some engagement in the past but had been inactive for several years, and of these only three have an easy-to-find archive page of those initiatives.   

Of 91 BC municipalities, only 38% are actively promoting projects and thus promoting public engagement within their communities. And only 60% of those municipalities are easily accessible through their website. 


As a first step this analysis was essential to a larger project to look at whether online portals are effective in increasing overall public participation in deliberation related to community planning. However, there are many gaps that can only be answered through a more in-depth look at specific projects across a spectrum of these communities. There are both smaller and larger communities that have online portals which will be an aspect to investigate in the next stage of the research, asking if there are significant differences in the various measurable components. The biggest issue may be determining whether the resultant deliberation events ensure that both participants and process are relevant for the full diversity of the population.  

References and additional resources 

Knobloch,K. R., Gastil, J., Reedy, J. and Walsh, K. C. (2013) Did they deliberate: Applying an evaluative model of democratic deliberation to the Oregon Citizens’Initiative Review. In Journal of Applied Communication Research 41(2).105-125 

LaFever, M. (2009).  9P Planning. Overcoming Roadblocks to Collaboration in Intercultural Community Contexts. Proceedings: International Workshop on Intercultural Collaboration (IWIC). International Conference; Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. Retrieved from 

Please join us for the upcoming Scholarly Sharing Initiative events!

So proud to see Communications scholars as presenters in the coming months. Also as collaborators and organizers on this event and with scholars from from across the College of Arts.

FYI: For those interested in attending, see registration details at the bottom of this announcement.

The goals of SSI are to facilitate interdisciplinary sharing, discussion and support for the great research and scholarly work going on at UFV. For more information or to offer to share your work at future sessions, please contact any of the organizers.

Each event features presentations from two speakers on their current scholarly work, followed by an opportunity for questions from attendees.
Thursday, January 27th at 1:00pm

Dr. Robert Harding (School of Social Work): “Canadian News Discourse about the Petroleum Industry: Corporate Media Framing compared with Indigenous Media Framing”

Dr. Amy Tang (English): “Interwar British Fiction and the Aesthetics of Energy Infrastructure”

Wednesday, February 16th at 1pm

Dr. Ghizlane Laghzaoui (Modern Languages): “Students’ evaluation of teaching”

Heather McAlpine (English), Ron Sweeney (English), and Jessica Wind (Communications): “Riverdale: A Forthcoming Book with Pep!”

Wednesday, March 30th at 1pm

Kim Norman (Communications): “Sights on Sites: The Risks Associated with Mis/Disinformation Online and an Exploration of Pedagogical Strategies for Mitigating Them”

Dr. Dana Landry (Communications): “Colouring with Pencil: How I learned to write and teach”

Scholarly Sharing Initiative organizers (2022):
Rita Atake, Hannah Celinski, Melissa Walter, Alex Wetmore

Registration Link:

Email: for more information

Professor Emeritus Madeleine Hardin Reflects on the Evolution of the Communications Department at UFV

Guest Blog by Alison Evans

Madeleine Hardin has been an associate professor with UFV Communications since 1989. During her time at UFV she has seen the school evolve from a college, to a university college, to a full university, from two small buildings in Abbotsford and Chilliwack to the expanded campuses that exist today. Madeleine’s work in media and advocacy helped shape the growth of the UFV Communications Department from a supplemental department assisting other disciplines with their curriculum, into a department on the edge of providing a four-year degree program.

As part of developing the oral history of the Communications Department, Madeleine spoke about her experiences over 30 years with UFV Communications.

Thirty Years at UFV

Prior to working at UFV Madeleine completed her Master of Arts in Communication at SFU. She then worked in television broadcasting for ten years as a researcher/writer with CBC TV News. While an exciting and fun career, she started to look for other careers that would allow her to spend more time with her young family. She was offered a job at Kwantlen College and UFV at the same time. She chose UFV because she “liked the people better. It’s really that simple,” she says. At the time the Communications Department was a small group of committed people working to establish the department, who Madeleine says are still some of her closest friends. Some of the earliest department members included Ken Fernstrom, Cheryl Dahl, and Wendy Burton.

Once at UFV, Madeleine used her experience from the newsroom and advocacy work to help the Communications Department evolve from being focussed solely on first year writing classes to include classes about media and journalism. Her experience in using her writing skills in a variety of mediums in television and media provided UFV Communications with a valuable resource for helping to expand their course programming from technical writing skills to include classes about advocacy writing, fundraising, public relations, and crises communication. Her department head at the time, Cheryl Dahl, established the Media and Communications (MACS) courses and department. Madeleine taught in both departments as a cross appointment for many years.  Her experience in using her writing skills in a variety of mediums in television and media provided UFV Communications and MACS with a valuable resource.

Beyond the physical changes of an expanding campus as the school grew, she tells us the student population has changed as well. During Madeleine’s time with UFV, she has seen the school change from a “small friendly college”, with students mostly local to the Lower Mainland, to a bustling student population of over 15,000, including international students from all over the world. With all of these changes, the Communications Department has stayed current by constantly adapting to provide the students with relevant skills, something Madeleine promoted in the Communications Department during her time as Department Head.

Communications Department Development

Just as the physical campus and the student body experienced growth and change, so has the Communications Department. Madeleine tells us that her work overseas, especially in China and India, helped advance her knowledge about what other countries were doing with communications, and she brought that knowledge home to UFV. This acquired knowledge transferred directly into the development of courses focussed on Intercultural Communications, Public Speaking and Writing for Business classes being provided by the Communications Department.

Madeleine was also instrumental in the development of two courses focused on Public Relations, Comms 212 and 312. These innovative courses were then adopted at SFU through Madeleine’s connections to her alma mater, and eventually they formed the foundation of the Public Relations Certificate Program here at UFV.

While the Communications Department Head, Madeleine was instrumental in getting the department a minor and certificate programs. Previously, the department was fulfilling a service to other departments by providing courses the students would use to advance their work in other studies. Madeleine and her colleagues pushed for a minor program at a time when the school was transitioning from a college to a full university, which helped to advance the program even further. The department had to “start taking themselves more seriously” she says, as the department followed the trend of hiring instructors with doctorates as well as master’s degrees.

The Future of Communications at UFV

To Madeleine, communications is so much more than technical writing and public speaking. She believes that communication “touches everything.” She says, “There are no jobs without a communications component.” She explained that communication jobs that did not even exist in the past are now required and abundant in all types of workplaces. She noted that especially during and post-Covid, digital communication and Digital Communication Strategists are needed in every branch of government and business in order to communicate with people when they could not be face-to-face and when they need to reach a broad spectrum of stakeholders and the public.

Communicating digitally is both “dangerous and useful,” says Madeleine. She says more regulation for preventing the spread of false and misinformation is needed, but also there needs to be emphasis on teaching students ethical communication practices. While unethical communication is hard to prevent, Madeleine says, “You can train people to recognize misinformation,” and teach them critical thinking about the information being communicated over all media channels. As digital communication moves forward, she feels this is something the Communications Department will need to examine.

She believes the UFV Communications Department is in great hands to face these challenges, and to keep moving forwards as communication continues to develop. “The department has always been full of good people. People who really believed in what they were doing and why they were doing it; all were good writers, good communicators,” she says. “The department is in incredibly good hands, and I have been very proud watching them grow and change.

Madeleine continues to be involved with UFV Communications Department, and will be teaching CMNS 125: Professional Communications, this fall at UFV.

Adapt and Overcome! Managing practicum placements during a public health emergency

We caught up with Elise Goertz, the Practicum and Internship Coordinator for the College of Arts. The last year and a bit has been disruptive for everyone, but when your job involves matching students with employers for workplace experience, the pandemic presented a unique set of issues.

What was the greatest challenge for employers and the practicum students due to the public health emergency over the past year?

The biggest challenge for both students and employers has been adapting to the new virtual environment. Most businesses we work with have been unable to host students in a physical location. Switching over to a completely virtual work environment was a learning curve for both employers and students, but all were able to adapt quickly.

I think that students had to learn to work more independently, ask more questions, use better time management skills, and become comfortable engaging in online meetings and using email communication. These are all skills they will continue to use in the future.

Do you think working remotely will play a bigger role in practicum placements in the future?

I think that remote work environments are here to stay and virtual practicums will continue to be available to UFV students. Many employers see the benefits of virtual work agreements for employees, interns and practicum students alike. Some of these benefits include flexible scheduling, low cost office space, fewer sick days, increased employee/intern satisfaction, increased productivity and more. In terms of practicum and internship placements, virtual placement agreements allow students to work from the comfort of their own home when their schedule allows. Students find this flexibility appealing.

What encouragement would you offer a student hesitating about taking on a practicum for the fall semester?

While taking on a practicum is a commitment, most students do not realized that a 80 hour practicum consists of just 8-10 practicum hours per week over the semester. Because of this, it’s easy for students to take other courses at the same time as their practicum.

If a student is unsure if they have the professional skills needed for a practicum, they will be happy to learn that the new practicum course (Practicum 1 & 2) involves a professional competency component. Students will first learn the skills needed to be successful in a workplace environment. Another thing to note is that all of our practicum placements are done individually. I make sure we make the right match and find a placement that aligns with the skills and interests of the student. If students have questions about this they can talk to me!

From your experience what is the most common benefit students report from their practicum experiences?

Practicum placements provide students with a great network that they can tap into when starting a career. Networking is such a huge part of a practicum placement. Many students come away with recommendation letters and references that they can use when applying for future roles.

Another practicum benefit is the fact that the experience allows students to develop their professional skills so that they are ready to launch into a career. Students learn that many of the skills that they have learned in the classroom are transferable to the workplace. After working in these types of positions, students become more confident, and develop a growth mindset. This experience also gives students the opportunity to explore ways they can contribute to our complex and ever-changing society and economy even before they have finished their education.

A practicum placement is a great way to earn credits towards your degree and diploma and at the same time get valuable workplace experience that can facilitate your transition from UFV to your career of choice. You can find out more about the UFV practicum courses (Arts 280 / Arts 380) here.

Things we forget to remember: 10 Memes for workplace writing

Having just completed teaching our Professional Report Writing course, CMNS 251, I am reminded once again of ten common business writing practices that many of the learners in the course need to have reinforced several times throughout a semester before they seem to stick. These ten are not the entire list but let’s not get too heavy here, right?

Why are these things so difficult to remember? My guess is that it come from three understandable places – thus why we teach such a class:

  • In our very first experiences with writing we learn to give lots of space between letters and sentences so that our rough attempts can more easily be read and corrected;
  • The academic practice of double-spacing is also meant for “corrections” and publisher notes
  • Workplace (aka business/technical) writing is about speed. No time to waste trying to figure out the “bottom line” as they say. A new concept for our post-secondary level writers.

Given the need for speed in the business world, the message has to be succinct, accurate for the audience, with high readability (ease of understanding the main message), and ultimately bring a positive result. With these principles in mind, these ten memes just might help us remember.

#1: Single (not double) spacing is the default

single spacing and left alignment are the defaults for business writing

OK, no problem, but of course this does not stand alone. Single-spacing will take up less pages but it also has to come with shorter paragraphs to create what is called white space. White space (the parts of the page that do not contain text, make the text easier to read). Thanks to the computer age, single spacing also comes hand-in-hand with the use of left-alignment and no paragraph indent (replaced by a single line space to designate a new paragraph (ah more white space).


This leads us to #2: Succinct Section Headings

Remember speed as a principle? The reader needs to be able to “glance” through a memo, letter, or document and pick out important information. No time for flowery prose here – make headings obvious with very few words that say exactly the focus of a particular section. Bold is best. Making the heading stand out is good but don’t overdo it. Just use bold, not italic or underline and for goodness sake don’t use a combination (horrors).

Of course headings only really make sense if they are configured in line with #3 Follow a Logical Path. Make sure that one section leads to the next. It is fairly common for inexperienced writers to just put their thoughts down as they are thinking without ever trying to organize them ahead of time.

Maybe a meme about making an outline first would be handy. OK – next time. Organizing my thoughts was something I certainly had to be reminded to do even in graduate school and I continue to remind myself regularly when I write. That being said, even the most logical route will not be enough if we don’t give clear directions to the reader on what to expect next on the pathway.

#4 Use Transitions as road signs. Almost every time I ask a class what they need for a good road trip, they say “snacks.” It takes us a while to get to “navigation tools” like maps and road signage. Those are just things we expect to be there but NO, somebody had to design them at some time and they did it for good reason.

It is pretty easy to find resources on line that offer hundreds of suggestions for writing a variety of types of transitions. These remind the reader where they have been, where they are headed next, how far they still need to go, and where they will end up.

# 5 Use Plain Language unless your audience is well-versed in a particular workplace jargon (specialized technical language). Using plain language is a not about dumbing down information, it is about making sure the message is clear for a broad audience. Along with the inherently multi-lingual nature of North America, Canada is fortunate in having a culturally diverse settler/immigrant and refugee population that offer a rich global experience and bring hundreds of languages into daily life. For many people English may be not only a second language but probably a fourth or fifth language at the least. Using plain language helps everyone have a better communication experience whether in speaking or writing.

#6 Use Past Tense in most cases when writing reports.

Why? because by the time your audience is reading the report is finished, therefore in the past. The most common bad (but natural) habit is to use a progressing/continuous future tense (i.e. you will read about an analysis of…). Present tense is also common (I am writing about…). Past tense is more accurate “For this report I analyzed..”

#7 Know your audience and your purpose.

This one really should be #1 but hey, we usually get there without as much trouble as 1-6 above. Those seem so simple but turn out not to be.

Identifying your audience takes time and thought. Audience demographics (location, age, gender, cultural background) are a great place to start but do not stop there. Ask yourself some more questions: Who cares? How do they want to get the information? What will they expect to from a particular time of document or mode of message transmission?

Know your purpose before designing your message.Why do you think this message is important to get out? What is it about this information that would get the attention of the audience you have identified? What do you want the audience to do in response to what you are writing?

Match your answers to these types of questions with the audience you have identified to double-check that you have a clear picture of what your message will be. Develop a short statement about your purpose to include in the introduction. This will help the reader but it will also have the bonus effect of keeping you on track.

#8 Know and honour the difference between a fact, an opinion, and your bias. Reports are no place for opinion. Even your conclusions should be based in the facts you present. Provide a source for everything you present as a “claim of fact;” and do your best to ensure that you acknowledge and account for bias (something we all have but often need to be more aware of).

I know that citing facts are the bane of all student existence but I promise that after a while it is the funnest part (my opinion lol). In the Communications department we most often use APA citation style because that is what academic journals in our discipline most often require. Plus the APA Style Blog is always a handy resource for all the cases that occur from rapid changes in digital information sources. In business writing it is more common to see something like Chicago (note and bibliography style) which demonstrates conventions similar to those used for Wikipedia style. It is more digital friendly for social media as well.

#9  Reports do not use salutary openings and complimentary closes. This one seems a bit picky but it will help you to identify the type of document that is best for your purpose. Is your audience just one individual? or written in a personal tone? You probably want to use a letter format (seems old-fashioned these days but still relevant in many circumstances). If so, please DO use salutary openings and complimentary closes.

Otherwise, remember that in professional/business/technical writing, speed it the thing. Greetings and closings slow both you and the reader down.

Tip #10 seems so, so obvious but one more time won’t hurt – PROOF READ before you send. If you have the time and resources, have someone else also proof your writing as a set of fresh eyes. Another trick is to have your device read out what you have written. This is a great way to listen for moments when you think “that doesn’t make sense” or “wow, where did that come from.”

Thank you for your time and now I need to go back and proofread one more time. Please let me know if I missed anything 🙂 Happy report writing to all.

A special Thank You to “Boo” the grizzly who lives and works at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in the Dogtooth Range of the Purcell Mountains, Columbia Valley, Golden, British Columbia.

Also to Terry Curts for the meme ideas and image search

Additional resources:

It is not just a Chinese new year: Celebrating the Lunar New Year

Take a trip with us to China, Korea, Tibet, Mongolia, and Vietnam

A Virtual Tour – click here

and follow the links to learn about the traditions, foods, activities, songs, and scenes from the five countries where the lunar new year is a national holiday.

This tour is just a little taste so you encouraged to trek out on your own across the world wide web to find out even more about the similarities and the differences of these New Year celebrations. You just might never refer to it as Chinese New Year ever again – but you can; no judgement here 🙂

Photo: La Fairy Sail:

Want to put your own lunar new year celebration together but have no idea what food to buy? Problem solved.

A Tour of Lower Mainland Asian grocery stores for your pleasure:

Let’s start with Surrey. The T&T Supermarket – For many general Asian grocery items. Their baked goods and cooked meals are excellent.

Photo: Google Map




For more specialized Korean ingredients it’s H-Mart at 19555 Fraser Hwy, Surrey.


Photo: H-mart website

Want to take a trip into the big city for some specialized Vietnamese ingredients? Let’s drive on over to the 88 Supermarket at 4801 Victoria Drive, Vancouver.

Photo: Google Map




Need some Vietnamese groceries in the Fraser Valley? Here we are in Langley and Abbotsford.

Photo: Google Map

The Saigon City Market is at 20178 56 Ave. Langley City and for more specialized Vietnamese ingredients, Vihn-Tan Oriental Groceries is at 2681 Cedar Park Place, Abbotsford. They have barbeque pork and roasted ducks on Wednesdays and Saturdays and they are yum (we can attest to that),



– your tour guides Marcella and Mai Anh

Photo: Google Map

Teamwork: Everybody Do your Share! 

A group of friends at a coffee shop

Guest blog by Sophie Weymann 

During the winter semester, as part of my Communications 125 class, we were asked to look into a topic that university students should know more about regarding the future of the workplace. Intrigued by the successes and failures of teamwork I had done in the past, it seemed like a great subject to look into. Even as our world has transitioned to a more digital environment, understanding how to do teamwork effectively has stayed as important as ever!

Recently, I have spent a lot of time debating whether I prefer working in a team or by myself. On one hand, I have been a part of teams where it ends up as if it were just me doing all the work but having to share all the glory. On the other hand, I have been a part of some pretty incredible teamwork that resulted in a finished product that I could have never achieved on my own.  

So, now I am left wondering how my personal experiences with teamwork so far will translate to a future workplace. Now comes the time to play psychic. Where is teamwork finding its place in the future of the workplace? Have too many of us been swayed towards eliminating it entirely as a result of the all-too-familiar one-person “team” in which we play the leading role but with the praise of a supporting member? Or does the pride of a team project done right still linger, making us believe that teamwork does actually makes the dream work?  

How Teamwork Can be Ineffective  

Those of us with teamwork experience can likely agree that when working in teams, we can encounter some major hiccups. So first, we must define what these issues are and what’s causing them. The issues within teams are often social (Farh, Seo & Tuslek, 2012; Stutzer, 2019; West, 2012). Some of the causes of these social issues have been attributed to multigenerational issues (West, 2012), low-emotional intelligence (Stutzer, 2019) and not clearly defining each members’ tasks (West, 2012). Stutzer has stated that multigenerational teams can result in stereotyping among members. According to Farh et al., members with low emotional intelligence are unable to read social cues to avoid conflict. Finally, when a member’s task is hard to define, West has said that they end up doing nothing and relying on the other members’ work.  

 All these issues in workplace teams create conflict. This is when teams start to become ineffective and just plain frustrating 

So, How Can We Build an Effective Team?  

One solution to consider is team building exercises. Whether they are done inside or outside of the workplace, team building fosters cohesion within the team (Stutzer, 2019). Team building is all about creating healthy working relationships to solve or avoid issues amongst members (Dirks, 2019). So, meet with your team regularly and just get to know each other! Creating relationships with each other not only helps avoid social conflict but also encourages personal investment in the success of the team amongst members.  

To Teamwork or not to Teamwork?  

Experts agree that in many job sectors, teamwork is in fact crucial. For example, in the nursing sector, if the nurses aren’t all working together, they will not be able to create and execute a treatment plan for a patient (Dirks, 2019). So, no matter how messy teamwork can get, a great product often stems from people working together. With this being said, teamwork will likely continue to hold a prominent and productive place in the workplace of the future.  


Dirks, J. L. (2019). Effective strategies for teaching teamwork. Critical Care Nurse39(4), 40– 47.  

Farh, C. I. C. C., Seo, M.-G., & Tesluk, P. E. (2012). Emotional intelligence, teamwork effectiveness, and job performance: The moderating role of job context. Journal of Applied Psychology97(4), 890–900.  

Stutzer, K. (2019). Generational differences and multigenerational teamwork. Critical Care Nurse39(1), 78–81. 

West, M. A. (2012). Effective teamwork practical lessons from organizational research. Wiley & Sons Incorporated.