Winter 2011

Your Letters


I would like to congratulate the New Trail staff on a beautifully presented and thoroughly interesting Autumn edition (volume 66 number 2). This is the first time that I can remember reading the whole thing cover to cover.
Don Upton, ’59 DDS
Calgary, AB

Objectionable Conduct

As past University of Alberta recipients of Trudeau Scholar­ships we are extremely proud of the 2010 awarding of a prestigious Trudeau Scholar­ship to Libe Garcia Zarranz in the Department of English and Film Studies. We would, however, like to express our concern about a story in New Trail (Autumn 2010, pg. 6). The article is intended to celebrate Libe’s research, accomplishments and Trudeau Scholarship award. Unfortunately, the story reads more as a partisan representation of Pierre Elliot Trudeau [’68 LLD Honorary] than about a highly regarded U of A scholar.
Rather than capture the attention of the reader with a headline extolling the virtue of high quality and innovative research, money (i.e. “prize money”) is suggested as an academic end-game. Yes, the award provides the highest level of research and networking funding for doctoral students in Canada. However, the funding is only a small part of the award’s benefit. A Trudeau Scholar­ship provides continuous and high-quality support from the Trudeau Foundation: an engaged, critical and intellectually innovative family of scholars, mentors and fellows.
Trudeau Scholars are highly gifted individuals who are actively engaged in their fields and are expected to become leading national and international figures. Only 15 Trudeau Scholarships are awarded each year in Canada to support doctoral candidates pursuing research of compelling present-day concern. In light of this year’s U of A Celebration of Research & Innovation, in which 2009 Trudeau Scholar recipients and a Foundation representative were invited and attended, we find the article’s representation of the most prestigious doctoral award in Canada to be objectionable.
Ken Caine, ’98 BSc, ’08 PhD; Patti Laboucane-Benson, ’90 BPE, ’01 MSc, ’09 PhD; Lucas Crawford; Lisa Szabo; Christopher Cox

Gulag’s Human Cost

Your “Photo Finish” caption on the last page of the Autumn 2010 edition of New Trail trivializes the human cost of the Gulag. Tens of millions (rather than “scores”) of political prisoners perished in the camps. Magadan and its subsidiaries in Kolyma and other sub-Arctic regions were some of the most notorious camps. A personal historical perspective of the horrors of these places and the Russian political prison system in general can be gleaned from Victor Herman’s autobiographical book, Coming Out of the Ice: An Unexpected Life. This is a story of an individual whose American family emigrated to the U.S.S.R. in the 1930s to build a Ford auto plant and who was the sole survivor of several thousand Americans who went there to accomplish this goal and who were abandoned by their own government to their fate. Another valuable source describing the Ford plant fiasco and an overview of that event is The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin’s Russia, by Tim Tzouliadis.
As Canadians, we have no idea of what suffering truly is.
Dale Nicoll, ’75 MD Victoria, BC

China Grows

CAPTION:A mother taking her child to daycare via sidecar in 1972.
Regarding the cover story of the Autumn 2010 issue of New Trail, a U of A connection with China was made as early as 1972, when a group of U of A students and grads, led by Gerry Glassford, ’64 MA, of the Faculty of Physical Education, went on a month-long tour of The People’s Republic of China. It was a time when the country was emerging from its Cultural Revolution. “Ping Pong diplomacy” was the new buzzword. The Alberta group of more than 30 was one of the first to be allowed to visit China. The visit’s emphasis was placed on sport programs, schools, communes and various cultural pursuits. The overall message was that China would only advance at a speed that the rural classes (“peasants,” as they were known then) could absorb so as not to leave them behind. Ideology was foremost. It wasn’t until later that the Chinese government went by the pragmatic dictum that, “it mattered not whether the cat was black or white, but whether it caught the mouse.” There was always the capability of technology, but it certainly wasn’t a priority at the time of our visit. The military, industry, peasants and students were all working together guided by the book, Quotations from Chairman Mao, better known in the West as the “Little Red Book.”
Frank Cosentino, ’69 MA, ’73 PhD Eganville, ON

We would like to hear your comments about the magazine. Send us your letters via postal mail or e-mail to the addresses on page 2. Letters may be edited for length or clarity.