Monthly Archives: October 2021

Ontario’s First Poet Laureate Sheds Light On Adversity For Fall 2021 Grads

Randell Adjei convocation address: Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first poet laureate, addresses NC’s Fall 2021 graduates during a video message played during the livestream ceremonies as NC president Sean Kennedy and VP Academic Fiona Allan watch from the Welland Campus./Niagara College photos.

Like Niagara College’s Fall Class of 2021, who had to overcome unprecedented challenges to graduate during a global pandemic, Randell Adjei has faced adversity.

But when Ontario’s first poet laureate shared his words of wisdom as part of the College’s Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation ceremonies, he inspired graduates to view it in a positive light.

“See adversity as a seed of opportunity,” he said.

Adjei, who was appointed poet laureate in April – a provincial position established in memory of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip – addressed more than 1,000 new NC graduates, along with their families and friends from around the world who gathered virtually to celebrate in two unique ceremonies livestreamed from the Welland Campus on October 29.

The special guest speaker, who was recognized with an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies during the ceremonies, told graduates that those facing adversity are like seeds buried and rooted into the darkness, which eventually find their light, and bloom.

“Sometimes we are buried into the darkness. Sometimes we are going to question, ‘why is this happening to me.’ Sometimes we are going to feel like victims but, I can reassure you, that you are being given an opportunity to grow,” he said. “You are transforming. You are evolving and blooming to become your best self.”

Adjei explained how adversity has played a key role in his own life, leading him not only to write as a form of self-expression, but to form RISE Edutainment (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) to help GTA youth express themselves creatively through performance arts. 

“If it wasn’t for the adversities that I went through, I would not be who I am today,” he said. “Adversity is what allowed me to look deeper within myself to question what I had to offer into this world.”

Adjei encouraged graduates to think about the legacy they hope to leave behind and what they can do to make the world better.

“Your legacy starts today,” he said.

Graduates were also treated to his gift of the spoken word, when he recited his poem, “The Dash,” which references the mark between dates on a tombstone and, figuratively, the course of a lifetime.

“It’s not about the day we’re born, nor is it about the day we leave, it’s really about everything we do with the dash in between,” he said.

President Sean Kennedy, who addressed the graduates live from the Welland Campus during the ceremonies, also shared advice with the Class of 2021. He spoke about the power of education and encouraged them to embrace lifelong learning as a key to realizing their dreams.

“As we learn, our worlds get bigger. Open your minds – and your hearts – to new ideas, new cultures, new ways of being and knowing,” said Kennedy. “And when you are moved, impacted and affected by what you learn, embrace that opportunity to grow and change. This is lifelong learning at its core.”

While the morning ceremony celebrated 511 new graduates from the Canadian Food and Wine Institute; and schools of Business and Management; Environment and Horticulture; Hospitality and Tourism; and Trades; the afternoon ceremony honoured 513 new graduates from the schools of Allied Health; Community Services; Justice and Fitness; Nursing and Personal Support Worker; and Academic, Liberal and Access Studies.

Zoom screenshot Practical Nursing: A screenshot from the afternoon ceremony livestream features a group of Practical Nursing graduates cheering and waving from their Zoom program party.

More than 270 new NC graduates were from the School of Nursing and Personal Support Worker alone – at a time of escalating need for health-care workers in Ontario.

Among them is St. Catharines resident Allison Cronkwright, who graduated from Practical Nursing, 11 years after graduating from the Personal Support Worker program. After developing a rare immune disorder and unable to continue her work as a PSW, she became determined to pursue her dream career. She went from wheelchair, to walker, to Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) during the past six years. On her convocation day, she considered herself the “luckiest woman on Earth” living out her dream as she begins her new full-time job as an RPN on a surgical unit at Niagara Health, where she completed her consolidation placement.

“Nursing was something I was born to do. From my very first memories as a child, I wanted to give back. I wanted to work in service of others,” she said. “COVID has put so much negative into the world. My nursing career is not one of them. I will adapt to whatever comes in front of me. I would move mountains to get where I am today.”

The Fall graduates join 3,872 from NC’s Class of 2021 who graduated during its Spring Virtual Convocation ceremonies between June 21-25 when the College celebrated the milestone of surpassing 100,000 individual graduates.

NC’s standout interactive virtual convocation ceremonies, which debuted in June 2020, feature many treasured traditions of its on-campus ceremonies, while leveraging modern technology and NC’s broadcasting expertise to create a live, interactive experience for graduates.

The formal ceremonies took place at the Welland Campus, and were livestreamed to a virtual audience, powered by a team of staff, faculty and students working behind the scenes from NC’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program. Between the two ceremonies, the livestreams garnered 3,259 live views from 34 countries.

Through program Zoom parties held alongside the ceremonies, graduates could be seen smiling and waving on screen with their classmates, as select clips were featured during the livestreams.

Those who missed their live ceremony broadcast, may view it at their convenience via the College’s website. For information about convocation or to access the ceremonies, visit

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Remembrance Day Community Commemoration Returns To Chippawa Park November 11

Ken Cassavoy

WELLAND – After a one-year Covid 19 hiatus the Remembrance Day Community Commemoration Service is returning to the Welland-Crowland War Memorial in Chippawa Park on Thursday, November 11, 2021. Service co-organizer Ken Cassavoy says they now have the green light for the service to go ahead this year at the local cenotaph. 

As in past years the service will be an informal one, a simple gathering of friends, family and all others who wish to remember and honour those who died, as well as all who served, in World War 1 and World War 2, the Korean War and numerous Canadian peace-keeping missions around the world.

The service centres on the live CBC Radio broadcast from the National Cenotaph in Ottawa, with a local live reading of In Flanders Fields by service co-organizer Betsy Warankie. The local service runs from 10:45 to 11:15 on November 11 at the cenotaph.

Mask wearing and social distancing is recommended for all those attending. Support for the Remembrance Day Community Commemoration Service is provided by the City of Welland and the Welland Museum.

(Source: News release. File photos: Joe Barkovich.)

Heritage Lives: Halloween Refloats Columnist’s Memories Of ’50s Screen Monster

By Terry Hughes

Today, the realm of Halloween and associated monsters is enhanced by high-tech special effects. The best would have to be Michael Jackson’s Thriller! And poor Jamie Lee Curtis has had to come out of retirement to kill her brother off dozens of times in the Halloween horror movie franchise, the latest of which is 2021’s Halloween Kills.

In the past certain characters dominated the movie screens such as werewolves, vampires and the infamous Frankenstein monster. The 1950s were influenced, however, by the Atomic Bomb and its associated issues of harmful radiation. Creatures affected by such exposures may have frightened your girlfriend but the stories were far fetched. Those that did gain popularity were The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Thing and Them. The latter movies involved a radioactive alien and giant ants. Their story lines and actors made them enjoyable and for some, even credible.

Our feature creature was discovered by skeletal remains found along the Amazon jungles of South America which were still largely unexplored back then. A follow-up expedition to learn more about this specimen yielded the real thing. Along with the plot is the work that went into the costumes needed –  one for land scenes and a second that required a built-in aqua-lung for underwater photography. Of course we must throw in the attractive young  fiancée  to one of the scientists and their multiple efforts to escape the monster and there you have the story line. The motion picture would yield sequels and as a horror-movie fan I devoured all of them. 

The creature was known as Gill-man, also known as the Creature as in Creature from the Black Lagoon. He could breathe outside of water for short periods of time but his webbed hands and feet armed with claws were its sole weapons. Our photo features the creature with one of the doubles who played in the underwater scenes in a more friendly pose.

Next Column: The Great Land Sale Of Your Canal Lands 

(Terry  Hughes is a Wellander who is passionate about heritage, history and model railroading. His opinion column, Heritage Lives, appears on the blog once or twice monthly.)

Ontario’s First Poet Laureate To Address Niagara College’s Fall Graduates

Ontario’s first Poet Laureate Randell Adjei / Photo courtesy of Lady Mensah Studios

Niagara College is planning an epic virtual send-off for almost 1,000 new graduates this fall with a special guest who is well versed in the spoken and written word.

Randell Adjei, Ontario’s first poet laureate, will deliver the convocation address at NC’s Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation ceremonies on October 29. The Scarborough native was appointed poet laureate in April – a position established in memory of Canadian singer-songwriter Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip. As poet laureate for a two-year term, Adjei is dedicated to writing and championing poetry, art and literacy, celebrating Ontario and its people, and raising the profile of poets in the province.

“The Niagara College community looks forward to welcoming Randell as our guest speaker and honorary diploma recipient for Fall Convocation. We are honoured that he will share his extraordinary talents with our Fall 2021 graduates,” said NC president Sean Kennedy. “Randell’s mantra of resilience is sure to both inspire and resonate with our 2021 graduates, who have achieved their academic goals during an unprecedented time in history and are now poised to embark on the next exciting chapter of their lives.”

Adjei is a celebrated spoken word artist who has performed around the world. He has won multiple awards for his dedication to helping youth express themselves creatively through performance arts as the founder of RISE (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) Edutainment.

NC will confer an Honorary Diploma in Community Studies upon Adjei in recognition of his contributions to the literary arts, which serve to unite and bring attention to social injustice.

“I am ecstatic to be addressing the Class of 2021 graduates at Niagara College because it is a pivotal time in their lives,” said Adjei. “Niagara has often been a place of getaway and rejuvenation for me. Also given Niagara’s approach to learning and education, I am really looking forward to being involved.”

About Fall 2021 Virtual Convocation

Two unique convocation ceremonies will be livestreamed from the Welland Campus on October 29: the 10 a.m. ceremony will celebrate new graduates from NC’s schools of Business and Management, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute, Hospitality and Tourism, and Trades. The 2 p.m. ceremony will be dedicated to the schools of Academic, Liberal and Access Studies; Applied Health; Community Services; Justice and Fitness; and Nursing and Personal Support Worker Studies.

The fall graduates join 3,872 from NC’s Class of 2021 who graduated during its Spring Virtual Convocation ceremonies June 21-25 when the College celebrated the milestone of surpassing 100,000 individual graduates.

Virtual convocation enables graduating students to celebrate their academic achievement in a safe and meaningful way during the COVID-19 pandemic before moving on to the next chapter of their lives. The upcoming ceremonies follow the resounding successes of the College’s previous virtual convocation ceremonies that drew tens of thousands of viewers from Niagara, Canada and around the world since they debuted in Spring 2020.

The College’s standout, interactive virtual convocation ceremonies feature many treasured traditions of its on-campus ceremonies, while leveraging modern technology and NC’s broadcasting expertise to create a live, interactive experience for graduates. The formal ceremonies conducted by Kennedy and vice president Academic Fiona Allan will take place at the Welland Campus and will be livestreamed to a virtual audience thanks to a team of faculty and students working behind the scenes from NC’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program.

Graduates and their families may visit the convocation website to view their ceremony as it happens, live in real time, from anywhere in the world. The name of each graduate will be called out, one by one, and appear on screen.

Videos will be incorporated into the live broadcasts, featuring well-wishes from the College community and beyond. Graduates will be invited to connect with their classmates and faculty through program Zoom parties to be held during their ceremony. Select clips from program Zoom parties – showing graduates smiling and waving – will be featured during the ceremony livestreams.

Virtual convocation also includes an immersive social media experience. Photos, videos and text messages with the NC convocation hashtag #NCGrad2021 will also be incorporated into the ceremonies.

For the convenience of those unavailable to attend the virtual ceremonies in real time, ceremony broadcasts will be available for later viewing via the Convocation website.

For information about convocation or to access the virtual ceremonies, visit College offers more than 130 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit

(Source: Niagara College news release)

Welland Food Drive Announces ‘Hybrid Campaign’

WELLAND  –  In over 28 years, the Welland Food Drive has provided millions of pounds of groceries for local food banks to distribute to those in need in the Welland community. The Salvation Army, Open Arms Mission, and Hope Centre rely on the generosity of the community to ensure that those facing food insecurity are able to have access to healthy and nutritious emergency food. 

Food Drive chair Monique Finley. She makes a moving, heartfelt plea for support of the annual initiative in a YouTube video, from where this photo was taken.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 version of the Welland Food Drive was moved entirely online, raising just over $80,000 to support the three local food banks. Monique Finley, chair of the Welland Food Drive, said the committee considered different models for 2021, and opted for a hybrid model.

“The Welland Food Drive is crucial to the local food banks. Recognizing the ongoing state of the pandemic, we have decided to keep the online donation option open again this year. Additionally, we will be holding a one-day ‘pop up’ Food Drive at Auberge Richelieu on November 6, the traditional date of the community-wide food drive.”

Marty Misener, executive director of Open Arms Mission, emphasized how important this annual drive is for the local food banks.

 “More people than ever are coming to food banks to get the food they need for their families. The compounding issues of rising food prices at the grocery stores and various hardships brought on by the pandemic have left many families with less in their fridges. The Welland Food Dive is a key annual event so that our shelves can be refilled for the coming winter months and so we can continue to provide food to those who need it.” 

Over the past 12 months, the local food banks (Open Arms Mission, Salvation Army and Hope Centre) have seen over 20,000 visits to their food banks, with over 25 percent of the visits supporting children. Since September 1, 2020 more than 325,000 pounds of food has been distributed by the local food banks to those in Welland facing food insecurity.

While the Welland Food Drive hasn’t set a goal for the amount of funds raised or food donated, Finley emphasized the anticipated growth in need.

 “Many of the federal COVID support benefits, which have helped so many local families weather the pandemic, will be discontinued by the end of October”, said Finley. “Our partner food banks have expressed concern about the rising level of need in Welland, and anticipate further growth of 25-40 percent over the course of the next year. The annual Welland Food Drive is a huge boost to their efforts to feed those in our community in need.”

About the Welland Food Drive:

Financial Donation – Visit between October 1 and November 8 to make a financial gift, or drop off your cheque at one of the local agencies. All cheques are to be made out to the local Charity of your choosing

Food Donation – Pop Up Food Drive, Saturday, November 6,  9 am-4 pm., Club Richelieu, 565 River Road or drop off your food donation at one of the local agencies.

20,759 – total number of visits to partner food banks in past 12 months

5151 – total number of children 

326,231 pounds – Amount of food distributed by the 3 partner food banks over the past 12 months

100,000 pounds – Amount of food donated at Welland Food Drive annually.

(Source: Welland Food Drive release)

She’s Back!

City Heeds Call To Action On Truth And Reconciliation; Meetings To Begin With New Land Acknowledgement

WELLAND – This week’s City of Welland council meeting, Tuesday evening, began with a new land acknowledgement.

A land acknowledgement is a formal statement and act of reconciliation involving the recognition of the traditional territory of the Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of the land and the enduring relationship between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.

“When we talk about Truth and Reconciliation, we have to do more than just talk; we have to act,” said Mayor Frank Campion. “On September 30, we saw the outpouring of acknowledgement to Truth and Reconciliation, and with it a necessary call to action. As the City of Welland acts, we begin with instituting a new land acknowledgement before each Council meeting.”

Updating the land acknowledgement improves local understanding and relationships with First Nations communities and those living off-reserve in Welland. It is enacted based on consultation, led by the Niagara Region, with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council, and leaders from the Niagara Indigenous Community Executives.

The new land acknowledgement read before council meetings is as follows:

Welland is situated on treaty land. This land is steeped in the rich history of the First Nations such as the Hatiwendaronk the Haudenosaunee and the Anishinaabe, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. There are many First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people from across Turtle Island that live and work in Welland today. Welland stands with all Indigenous people, past and present, in promoting the wise stewardship of the lands on which we live.

(Source: City of Welland news release)