By KIRAN MALIK-KHAN, Connect Contributor
Question Everything. Keyano College’s University Studies department hosted the fourth annual Arts & Humanities Conference on March 5 with this theme. The free, day-long event featured sessions catering to this central idea with keynote speaker Dr. Bart Beaty from the University of Calgary’s English Department.
Dr. Beaty is the author of Twelve Cent Archie among other books, and spoke about the future of scholarly study of comics.
Keyano Reads – a perennial favourite component of the conference saw enthusiastic book lovers in the Recital Theatre. Students and faculty led various sessions like fan fiction, selfies and memes, truth in the law, banned and censored books. In addition, false histories and conspiracies, myths of the mind, the value of skepticism, gaming and culture, and Fort McMurray as place of study were also on the agenda.
Students’ Association of Keyano College (SAKC) hosted a Mad Hatter’s Pea Party in the commons area highlighting the importance of mental health. Fatima Dhooma, Student Affairs Vice President, and incoming President of SAKC said the need to keep mental health front and centre has never been more important.
“Mental health is one of the most stigmatized issues, and we wanted to highlight it keeping the conference’s theme of ‘Question Everything,’ in mind. One of our focuses has been sustainable measures to keep the conversation going, which is why you see Angus the Elephant here.”
“Having the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is a metaphor for the different hats people wear, we don’t really know the truth behind those struggling with mental health issues, especially in post-secondary, where stress levels are especially high,” explained Dhooma, who also chairs the student mental health committee at the college, and is enrolled in the University Studies program studying Food and Nutrition.
Buffy Close, also a University Studies student, won Keyano Reads defending Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. The book focused on Shin Dong-Hyukm, a prisoner who defects from a North Korean camp.
“I read it about four years ago. When it came out, it was as Shin told it – he was born, and raised in a political prison. Three years after it was published, Shin changed his story adding elements where he took responsibility for things. The reporter (author) went back, and asked more questions. He went to psychologists to ask if this is normal? And, through his research found that yes, it’s normal for those who survive trauma to change their stories. They will block things out, and in North Korea, people are encouraged to tell on others, which Shin did on his mother and brother leading to their execution,” explained Close.
Dr. Ryan Cox, Keyano instructor, and lead organizer for the conference was delighted with the response to the event.
“Our students have done a great job. There have been some exciting conversations. I’m in a happy place. Fundamentally, there’s a craving to have complicated conversation on shared uncertainty. This conference provides that space, and shows that Keyano provides a (platform) for this yearning to Question Everything,” said Dr. Cox.