The End.

Here are the art pieces I created for socials class, sorry that they are so late!

My theme statement was split into three parts and each part of the theme statement corresponds with a piece in the same order:

I.  People are driven by the need for connection and this need for connection drives action.

II.  This action can be moral or amoral but humans are inherently altruistic.

III.  Understanding the two previous statements is important for me to better understand my actions, the actions of others and relationships between  myself and others as well as the relationships of others.img001editedimg002edited


















As I don’t want to write a long blog post to explain everything, I have posted some photos of my talking points and notes during my presentation about examples of my theme in learning and in my life, where I think I should improve and where I think I did well this year and some brief explanations of each piece.


Socials Symphony

For my final socials assessment, I created a symphony of sorts to go through my entire TALONS socials experience. My thesis statement is: “If we can look at both our successes and mistakes, not looking strictly at one or the other, we can learn to better ourselves for the future.”

PDF of the Score

The music

A symphony is divided into four parts, and I used the four parts to represent the four terms of socials I had over the last two years.

The first movement portrays the first half-semester of year one. The chordal structure is quite simple, basically staying on the root chord for most of the piece. It has a sound of innocence and simplicity. The music has not yet developed into something too intellectual or thoughtful quite yet. It represents me as a new TALONS, unaware and unsure of much of what goes on in my life and in the lives around me. A very unassuming and simple outlook.

The second movement is a darker and more somber sounding piece. It is more developed and more complex than its predecessor, but it is still moderately basic. It follows the basic ii-V-i chord progression throughout and does not deviate from this progression. Granted, it is more interesting and has a lot more going on. This represents the second term of grade 9. It represents me, trying to present myself as knowledgable and wise to others as well as to myself. Creating sounds that on the surface seem complex (and are to a certain degree) but take no real risk or “out there” ideas.

The third movement is a step away from what has been going on previously in the piece. It uses only two or three instruments at a time and has them going as duets for the entirety of the piece. It’s a break from the instrumental set up previously used and is significantly more harmonically complex. It’s now the beginning of grade 10 socials and represents me trying something new. Trying to think differently and look at every perspective (or instrument) for their ideas and opinions and how they can shape the overall outlook on an idea (song).

The final movement is the conclusion of both the “symphony” and socials in TALONS. This is the most complex movement, taking ideas and building off of both the mistakes and successes of the previous movements. It is a piece that is more mellow and calm, not being too dramatic, cheesy, corny, or simple (or at least desperately trying not to be). It gives more instruments in the ensemble a chance to shine and express the beauty that lives within every instrument. This is really a metaphor for my current way of thinking and how I can learn from my mistakes and successes and build off of them to be continually creating a better version of myself.

On How We Got Here: My Socials Final

When I first came into socials, there were three things that I didn’t enjoy: remembering events, dates, and people; large group discussions; and trying to pick out motifs, themes, and big ideas from a series of events. Needless to say, I really enjoyed socials class. 

When considering this, I wanted to do something that kinda showed off how I’ve changed over the past two years of and how various events we’ve learned about build up to my final theme statement. To do this, I kinda wanted to recreate a project that we did sometime over the past two years that I kinda struggled with, so I decided to do fridge magnet poetry. 

As a way of representing my growth over the past two years, I have pulled elements from one blog post per term. In addition, while writing the poems, I tried to make them longer and less literal as they go on to symbolize how I have become more thorough at communicating my ideas over time and how I have improved my ability to pick out underlying themes of events.

Columbus Poem
So my first piece is based on Columbus and this blog post. In (my first ever) blog post, I discuss how we, as a human race, have a history of turning to violence and bloodshed in an attempt to stay in control in the power structure we have in our society, so with this, I wanted to portray how wanting to be more powerful or have more has led to events of history changing.

French Rev Poem
And I based my next piece off one of the roleplay posts I wrote for the French Revolution. This one is about how the constant want to have power in terms of control or resources kinda trumps everything and what someone does to keep power greatly changed the course of a nation. The reason I chose this message to accompany this topic is that one of the only things I still remember about the French Revolution is how, despite being one of the most influential figures in the revolution against King Louis and the amount of power he had, essentially became everything he was against earlier in order to keep himself in power.


Reconciliation Poem
And then I did my next one based on my blog post on reconciliation and residential schools. In this poems, I talk about how our past, and specifically how much we wanted power and control over people and resources, has influenced how us and our modern identity and can be perceived. It is easy to draw parallels between this and what happened with regards to residential schools and the fallout from that. How we physically, socially, and mentally hurt indigenous people in an attempt to gain more power, both in terms of control over people and land, is one of the main factors that challenge our national identity as inclusive, just, and equal.
Newspaper Poem
And finally, this poem is based on the discussion we had on cultural appropriation and this editorial I did for the newspaper to show how my socials ability has extended beyond the class. I kinda wanted to summarize everything I’ve learned with this piece and it’s basically about how the path a nation is on and what that nation stands for is influenced by either how we wanted to have more power or we wanted to prevent others from taking this power. 

These four pieces build up to my theme statement, which is:

Trying to obtain or keep power and the conflict caused by this changes the course of history and our modern identity.

To accompany the poetry, I overlaid the text on top of various nature shots from Survivor.

For the first one, the player that immediately came to my mind when thinking about aggressive behaviour changing the course of the game was Russell Hantz, who’s known for his blindsides, backstabs, and alienating everyone he votes out. Because of this, the first piece is on top of a shot from Heroes vs Villains in the episode where he boots one of his closest (and only) allies by flipping to the heroes.

The background image for the next piece is a shot from Survivor: Game Changers where Zeke decides to make a “big move” and flip on his alliance, and specifically Andrea, as he felt that he needed to do something to show that he was in the power seat in his alliance, which resulted in all the alliances in the season shifting again and the eventual Pagonging of everyone by Sarah, Troyzan, and Brad.

I’ve put my third poem on top of a shot from the last boot before the jury in this season as it reminded me a lot of “The Incident 5.0” (Yes I know I said 3.0 during my presentation but I thought of a lot of other things between then and now). I knew the second I finished my poem that this was the moment that it reminded me of. Essentially what happens is Varner attempts to expose Zeke as “deceptive” by forcibly outing him at tribal council, which resulted not only in a divide between Varner and the rest of the tribe but also amongst the Survivor community. What really created the connection between the poem and this event, though, was Varner’s insistence afterwards that he was all for the rights of transgender people, going as far as stating that “[he argues] for the rights of transgender people every day in the state of North Carolina” without seeing how his behaviour and what he tries to portray himself as differ. (A link to a shortened version of the tribal council if you’re interested)

My fourth, and final, poem is accompanied by intro shot to Survivor: Cambodia because I feel that the way that the gameplay in that season has greatly influenced the development of the game. To expand on this, the big power plays, including the Savage blindside, the Fishbach blindside, and the F6 tribal, and the power struggle to between the majority Bayon Alliance and the minority Witches’ Coven have redefined where the game is going as it is now much more focused on making flashy “BIG MOVEZ” and has become a lot more cutthroat now.

TALONS Social Studies: Final

June 21, 2017

To conclude my time in TALONS Social Studies, I will be sharing my final project with you.

This final project consists of a three-part theme statement, as well three art pieces that I created to represent each part of my theme statement. In this blog post, I will also be sharing the areas of Social Studies in which I believe improved, and the areas in which I would like to work on.

Theme Statement

The development of my theme statement was not an easy task for me. As someone who is very detail-oriented and analytical, developing a theme statement for Social Studies was an assignment that seemed near-impossible at first.

Thankfully, I had the chance during class to talk to my wonderful and thoughtful friend, Renee. When I told her about my struggles to develop a theme statement, she asked me a series of questions. The conversation went something like this:

Renee: Why do you want to do well on this final?

Myself: To get a good grade and succeed in high school.

Renee: Why do you want to succeed in high school?

Myself: To go to a good university.

Renee: Why do you want to go to a good university?

The conversation continued until I came to the conclusion that all that I do in my life is fueled by the need to have a better future and the need to be happy in my future.

With this conclusion and the help of Mr. Jackson as well, I developed my three-part theme statement.

  1. Humans are driven by the need for a better future, which often involves the increase in power, status, and wealth, for individuals or the groups that these individuals represent.
  2. The idea of a better future is decided by indivduals based on perspective. A person’s morals and values, of which are influenced by the upbringing and culture, sculpt their perspective.
  3. Varying perspectives result in conflict.


After developing a theme statement, I moved on to brainstorming ideas for my method of presenting my theme.

The first thing I thought of was to write an analytical essay and break down the theme statement and provide various pieces of evidence for my theme. However, I realised that this method of presentation was something that I do often and am comfortable with.

That is why I decided to challenge myself by creating three art pieces to represent my theme. I decided to do different kinds of overlay art with thread, plastic, and cut-out words. I placed the various overlays on top of photos from the book Polaroids from the Dead by Douglas Coupland.

Final Product

1. Only Human 

The first piece that I created represents my first theme statement. Below, I have written part one of my theme statement in a simplified form.

1. Humans are driven by the need for a better future.


In this piece, the words represent immoral values and one idea of a better future. The words were cut out from the same book that the photo was found, and placed like a fridge-magnet poem.

The skeleton in this piece represents death. The rectangles in the back are buildings, which represent civilisation.

The basic meaning of my piece is that immoral values result in death and that these immoral values were influenced by the culture of our “civilised nation.”

2. Perspective(s)

The second piece represents the second part of my theme statement:

2. The idea of a better future is decided by individuals based on perspective.


This piece is an interactive piece, where the layer of plastic with the thread can flip up to show the photograph on its own. The image with the thread represents the first perspective, and the image without represents the second perspective.

The first perspective represents the idea of a better future for Aboriginal peoples. The green thread represents forest, while the wings represent a totem pole.

The second perspective represents the idea of a better future for people who want/wanted to make the world more “civilised,” such as John A. Macdonald.

3. Conflict Rising

My final piece represents part three of my theme statement:

3. Varying perspectives result in conflict.


This piece shows two different colours of thread, red and blue, which run in opposite directions. The two different threads represent the varying perspectives, while the first rising, represents the conflict that is a result of these clashing perspectives.

The colours of the thread quite literally represent the Conservatives (blue) and the Liberals (red).

This piece was made with regards to what we learned in Social Studies quite recently, about the “pendulum swing” between the Conservatives and the Liberals in Canadian politics.

The Three Pieces

As you can tell, the meanings behind my three pieces are quite literal. This is partly because I have never been a very artistic person, and felt that when I looked at art pieces I was trying very hard to find a deeper meaning behind them. This often hurt my brain and so, I wanted to make my pieces easier to understand, especially for people like myself.

Additionally, I wanted to make my pieces literal because I wanted to express my theme statements in a bold and unapologetic way.

Social Studies: Skills

Now that I have completed my final pieces, I wanted to do a public reflection of my time throughout Social Studies and the skills I have developed and would like to further work on.

What I Have Improved

I believe that I have improved in the following areas:

1. Completion of summative assessments


  • I was able to develop an effective theme statement that represents many aspects of Socials Studies.
  • I was able to present my theme statements in a comprehensive way through various art pieces.

2. Creation of digital artefacts


  • I created effective documents of learning throughout the semester and can see visible improvements regarding my research and thought process throughout the semester through these documents of learning.
  •  I published products of my learning on my blog and described them in a concise and comprehensive way.

What I Would Like to Improve 

I would like to improve in the following areas:

1. Participation in class discussions


  • I believe that I can work on being more vocal in class discussions. Although I often feel uncomfortable sharing my opinions in front of large groups of people, I believe that I should learn to be more bold and unapologetic, just like my final art pieces, when it comes to speaking in class discussions.

2. Taking time to reflect


  • For my final project, I placed the words “willful rejection of reflection,” on my first piece. As I was doing this, I realised that throughout the semester I was not very dedicated when it came to reflecting on myself and the work that I did. Although I completed all the self-reflections that were assigned to me with a great amount of thought and care, I believe that I can improve by taking the time to reflect on myself even when I am not directly assigned to do so.

Overall, I have to say that I am quite satisfied with how my final project turned out, and my performance in Social Studies this year. I learned so much while participating in class discussions, researching for documents of learnings, and representing various characters in role-plays, just to name a few.

I would like to end off by thanking my classmates and Mr. Jackson for teaching me so much about history, powerful ideas in life, and about myself.

– Sydney

Golden Spruce Final Project: Dichotomy

Since starting the book, I was interested by the contrast the book created between concepts that would be considered at odds, or even opposites, like life and death, ocean and the forest, light and dark. However, the dichotomy that stood out most to me was that between the urban world and the natural world. I thought that this theme was explored a lot more explicitly in the book from a wider variety of perspectives. I liked that this theme was explored through the perspective of European traders and settlers, First Nations peoples, the logging industry, the British Columbian economy, the environmental impacts, and through the perspective of Grant Hadwin. This theme really stood out to me, as it did to many others, and I was very excited to start this project with this idea in mind.

I wanted to show the dichotomy between the natural world and the urban world. At first, I was unsure about how to do this, but I knew that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and do something that was artistic, symbolic, and less traditionally analytical. This decision to push my boundaries, and forced me to think for some time about how I could to show my ideas physically. Showing my ideas in a physical medium is not something that I am used to, so it took me a lot of time to figure out how I could show my ideas, and to learn how to properly achieve the techniques I wanted to showcase.

One day Mr. Jackson left an old aerial picture of Coquitlam on the table, and I became very intrigued by it; this photograph gave me some inspiration. I found a few more similar pictures with the help of Mr. Jackson, and decided to use the two photographs as my medium and to show the dichotomy between the natural world and the urban world through those pictures.

I struggled for a long time about how to show the urban world and how to show the natural world, but decided in the end on mediums that I was relatively familiar in working with in other contexts. Yet, it still took me some time to learn how to sew through the picture and how to create textures with paint on the photo paper. However, I am glad that I took my time to learn how to properly do the techniques because I think that they turned out well on the good copies.

The two pieces are meant to go together to show the relationship between the natural and urban world. I will now do a piece by piece explanation of the pictures.




Picture 1: The green paint is meant to represent the nature, and I wanted to show with the paint how powerful the forest can be even when it is tamed, and how different the forest looks in contrast to the surrounding urban development. I tried to create some depth of colour and texture to show that the forest varies a lot where as urban development looks similar across the world. The part of the book when Grant Hadwin begins to get upset about the ways of the logging industry inspired me to do this piece. Looking at the pictures of Coquitlam reminded me how close to home the issue of deforestation is.

Picture 2: I strung yellow string across the second picture where there were urban environments to show how linear and unnatural urban areas look in comparison with the curving land and bodies of water surrounding it. I chose yellow because the Golden Spruce meant a lot to the Haida people, and it symbolized the sacred relationship between nature and humans. I thought that yellow would show the relationship between the urban environment and nature; the urban environment was created on top of the natural environment with materials from the natural environment; the natural environment was used to create the urban environment, but was disregarded afterwards. I also wanted to almost create a cage-like look with the string, to show how the urban environment can imprison the natural potential of an area.

With both images, I really liked that they depicted areas that are familiar to me. It made me think on a deeper level about these themes in the context of my community. I really enjoyed pushing myself during this project to show my ideas in a new way. I really enjoyed doing this project, and I was so happy to see the projects of others! Everyone was so creative, thoughtful, and everyone had such unique ways of expressing their ideas, so good job everyone!


Social Studies Final Project

Here are some photographs of the creative component that I made for my Social Studies Final Project. For this creative component, I decided to create a piece that is more dynamic due to my theme being a very dynamic one. The paper section in the middle of the box rotates and shifts, showing how identity changes gradually throughout constantly changing power relationships. Here are some photos in case anyone missed this part of my presentation:

img_20170620_232704642 img_20170620_232710119 img_20170620_232718406 img_20170620_232740296 img_20170620_232746150 img_20170620_232753686

The Golden Spruce: Final Project

May 24, 2017

For my final project for The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant, I created three pieces that incorporated words and symbols.

The first piece is a representation of Grant Hadwin’s natural skill for logging. The red colour on the blade of the axe represents the blood of the tree that was unknown to Hadwin at the time. Within the axe, the text shows quotes from the book about Hadwin’s extraordinary skill.
The second piece shows a needle, which represents the period of Hadwin’s life in which he was most likely struggling with a mental illness. Within the needle, I wrote phrases from the book that expressed Hadwin’s view on the logging industry after a turning point in his life. I expressed the overall view with one word, “destruction,” that has been written in the blue.
The third, and last, piece represents a tree stump, which represents the Golden Spruce after it was cut down by Hadwin. The text within the stump was written in a fridge magnet poem style and expresses the Hadwin’s rage towards the logging industry during this time. The first and last sentences are written in gold because of their relevance to one another, and how they can be read together, without the text in between.

Overall, I had a lot of fun creating these three pieces. I have always been more confident with my writing rather than my ability to draw, and so it was enjoyable to step out of my comfort zone through this project but also stay within it.

Cultural Appropriation Not Same as Appreciation

Many are accusing Carnival Nationz, a mas band that plays carnival music, of cultural appropriation after they released their costumes, including a headdress in an attempt to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, for the annual Toronto Caribbean Festival.

Cultural appropriation is when an ethnic group takes another’s clothing, practices, or other cultural pieces and uses it as their own.  Though the concept behind it is simple, it is often misunderstood as an exchange or a way to respect another culture and it is necessary to differentiate between the two.

Cultural exchange is different from cultural appropriation as it comes out of a place of respect. Both groups exchanging are relatively equal to each other in the power structure that exists in society. This creates a mutual interaction that consists of not only respectfully taking but also willingly giving.

After understanding cultural exchange, it becomes simpler to understand cultural appropriation. On the surface, it’s taking parts of another group’s culture, but that isn’t all cultural appropriation is. It is also the absorption of aspects of a minority group’s culture to the benefit, enrichment, or entertainment of the dominant culture without the necessary respect. These pieces of culture have traditions and meanings behind them that are completely disregarded when being appropriated.This is the danger behind cultural appropriation: it takes the meaning behind these cultural items away and makes them commercialized and profitable.

This is where the issue behind Carnival Nationz’s headdresses lies: traditional indigenous headdresses are often reserved by chiefs for special occasions and ceremonial purposes, not the Toronto Caribbean Festival.

“It’s very disrespectful when you see people just wearing them as a costume, because it’s not a  costume. It’s very, very traditional, and it holds a lot of meaning. It’s very symbolic,” said Shaniece, a Mi’kmaq-Jamaican woman in a CityNews interview.

“The headdress is revered in our culture and it is not worn just by anybody,” added Denise Stonefish, deputy grand chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians in a CTV News interview.

Although the band’s original intent to honour indigenous people isn’t harmful, their disrespectful execution is, and there are better ways that they could celebrate indigenous culture. It is up to the dominant culture to understand the significance and story behind the items they choose to take in order to avoid appropriating significant or sacred cultural items and removing their context. The best way to do this is to involve people from the minority group and start a conversation about these cultural symbols in order to become more thoughtful when using things from other cultures, to understand any sacred or important backgrounds of the objects, and the learn about the best practices to show respect.

By doing this, one can appreciate and respect other cultures and their items better, rather than stealing valuable pieces of other ethnic identities.