[2016] reflection


Formal Introductions

Last year I wrote “[2015] reflection,” so in effort to make this a tradition, here’s my review of 2016. To add to the reading, play this in the background. It’s my top ten songs of 2016.

Now, by looking at all the memes of 2016 – it appears that 2016 was a crazy ride for everyone. We lost many iconic musicians, there were numerous questionable political events (notoriously Brexit & Trump), the scandals, etc. But let’s not focus on the scary portion of 2016. That’s not what a reflection is supposed to achieve. No. My reflection is to remind me the growth I have accomplished over the year and to bring positivity.

A Taste for Adventure

I started the year off right by overcoming my fear of driving, by deciding to make my first real long-distance drive to Ottawa. May not seem to be much, but for a first-time car owner, a long-distance drive is a huge accomplishment. So with ten+ hours of driving in the snow, this helped elevate my confidence with driving. Now the QEW & 427 commute is a piece of cake.

Ottawa was a great decision to ring in the New Year surrounded by the good ‘ol Marshall crew.


From long-distance driving transitions to first-time-flying-by-yourself-all-the-way-up-North trip. I would like to thank AB for allowing me to visit her in The Yukon in May. I came back with a new sense of purpose and other clichés. But seriously, Yukon has given me that much-needed push to add more adventures to my life. The Yukon is so beautiful that I encourage all to visit this magnificent place at some point in your lifetime. I miss being surrounded by mountains. For my full telling of the Yukon, continue reading here.


The next step? We go from flying within Canada to flying outside of Canada sans-parents for the first time. And to Cuba! Cuba was just the escape I needed in November. And it will forever be memorable, as of course I went when Fidel Castro passed away. It’s one thing to go for the all-inclusive, but it’s also important to leave your resort bubble. Havana is a beautiful city with so much culture imbedded. I am glad we were still able to visit Revolution Square the day before Castro’s ashes were brought for mourning. It’s one place I would definitely visit again.

Concerts & Festivals

Compared to last year, Miss Victoria Chiasson went to the most amount of concerts and festivals. Although Mumford & Sons did not make the list because TicketMaster did not come through, I still went to four other great musicians (and probably for the price of one Mumford & Sons ticket).

Experiences, my dear reader, is what you need to focus on. Here’s a sum of what added value to my 2016:

  • Winter BrewFest
  • TSwift Dance Party
  • Drake & Rihanna Dance Party
  • Bread n’ Honey Festival
  • KONGOS @ Velvet Underground
  • BeerFest
  • Cider Festival at Yonge-Dundas Square
  • Dan Mangan @ Union Station
  • TURF
  • Nuit Blanche (first time going!)
  • Adele Concert
  • July Talk Concert
  • Christmas Market at Distillery District (first time for this as well!)

Came short on my reading challenge this year, as I am still learning to balance work and life. I am still pleased that I managed to read 12 books. Also by looking at my stats, my books equaled 4043 pages, which I’m happy with. My top books of 2016 you should get around to are: Missing, Presumed and A Year of Marvelous Ways. Both well written with life lessons that stick around.

Follow my life of reading over on goodreads.


Conclusions & Other Rambles



I did not set a resolution for 2016 when I wrote my first reflection. Rather, I went into the year with a general attitude. I hoped that 2016 would be a year of transformation. I think from this general reflection, that yes. I have grown as an individual by focusing on experiences and creating memories. I have gained confidence in some places, but I know that I still have work on gaining confidence in other areas.

2017 will be the year of no excuses. No excuses to making things happen, achieving dreams, and moving forward. No excuses for those around you and for yourself.

Dear 2017. I’m ready. Bring it on.

Getting Back to Happy



Here’s something different, a brutally honest post, because as humans: why are we so scared to talk about our mental health?

Having now been out of University for over a year, I have been having difficulty coming to grips that this. is. it. University made me feel like I was working towards something; I had a goal in mind – my diploma. Now with being in a full-time job, what is it that I hope to accomplish?


The first big change was moving back at home. Which – don’t get me wrong – has been great as I’m seeing my parents more, my rent is cheaper than it would have been if I was on my own, and I have a support system. But then there is the flip side, you are seeing your. family. more.

The second big change was my circle of friends became further apart. Instead of waking up and them being there, they aren’t. And it gets weird, because you shared a house with them for THREE years.

So that is where “getting back to happy” comes from. A way to remind myself that living isn’t quite so scary if you keep doing things that make you feel good.

Classes, Classes and oh! More Classes

For starters, I started signing up for leagues that would keep me active and allow me to step away from the house. This first started by signing up for volleyball, which was an excellent way to step out of my comfort zone. Sure I had gone to Olympia for volleyball for multiple years, but I never played on an actual team. I then started to incorporate yoga back into my life. Attending yoga really helped bring my mental focus back into place. I have even started to attend more challenging power yoga classes. Next was getting back into soccer, again a way to challenge myself. Leagues & fitness classes are a sure way to push yourself. I find that if I just go to the gym, I will take the easy way out since I don’t have others to overcome obstacles.

In order to fill the time outside of work, I have also been working towards a certificate in Digital Marketing Management. By doing online courses I have in a way forced myself to keep learning. It is so easy to go to work and then come home watch television. I was doing this routine in the first few months of my new job. Was that particular routine benefiting me in any way? No. Signing up for online courses helps add value to my skill set.

Final Rambling Thoughts

Am I unhappy though? No. I’m just unsatisfied. I realize where I currently am in life is not where I want to be indefinitely. There is so much more I want to accomplish.

A Defense for “Today’s Music”

DSC_0155_edit_bfWho’s tired of the overused phrase “music just isn’t as good as it used to be?” Raise them, raise those hands high.

This past weekend I had the most pleasurable experience of engaging in conversation with an older gentleman, let’s say late 50’s to early 60’s. He thought it was best to – in his beyond drunken state of mind – to argue that my generation won’t get to appreciate music, as we have no defining icon to represent us. He then continued to explain how Rihanna receiving an MTV Lifetime Achievement award is fallacy and how artists stick to music for a year – tops – have a single, and call it quits.

Of course it was at this point in time, after many attempts to explain how we should not dismiss “my generation’s” music that I called it a day. There was no use getting through to someone who was not going to listen to the points I had to express.

As you can see, I’m still bothered. It’s best to write and get this point across:

It is with each generation that they will complain about the younger generation, this is nothing new.

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

This is a quote from Socrates. Yes, Socrates, and yet did you not just resonate with the statement centuries later? Don’t tell me you haven’t complained about an 8-year old owning a cellphone. Heck! I just did that today.

Oh my reader. Do not give up on me just yet, keep pushing through my rambles. This quote still applies to music, don’t rush me now. It relates in that with each new generation comes a new wave of sounds. The generation preceding will complain of the new wave of sound, as they are accustomed to the sounds that define their own generation. A GENERAL overview would look like: 70s – disco, 80s – rock, 90s – age of boy bands, etc. (Of course within each decade is a mixture of even more sounds depending on the crowd you associated with.)

Going back to the nameless man, if we look at his generation, he identifies with the sounds of the 70s-80s. If we look at his parents, they would not have appreciated the sounds of the 70s-80s and enjoyed the sweet melodies from say 40s-50s. Both groups – as you will – have different ways in which music was organized. 70s-80s we get into more of the classic rock guitar sound, while 40s-50s was more focused on the frontman with a band behind.

Overall, for the case of “today’s music” it is really a matter of how it is presented to the masses. Unfortunately there has been an increase in top40, as it is obvious that there is a formula to successful songs. Does that mean that there is no good music for my generation? Hell no. There are so many musicians out there that are still undiscovered just because it is harder for them to get airtime. My generation is dealing with an increase in content that we have to spend more time sifting through what is presented. As an individual, you just have to put a bit more work into finding the great artists. Once you start getting into the digital world and looking about, you will realize all the amazing sounds that are readily available to your ears.

Right now I suggest: “Shake” by The Head and the Heart, “Tornado ‘87” by The Rural Alberta Advantage, and “Giant” by Banks & Steelz.

The Head and the Heart

The Rural Alberta Advantage

Banks & Steelz

Masks Protecting Identities, but Hindering Resistance

This piece was written for my Visual Communications class taken in Third Year.

Masks Protecting Identities, but Hindering Resistance

Victoria Chiasson
20 November, 2013

People are driven to anonymity because they are scared of their government’s power over their futures. As a result, these protestors use masks to conceal their identities, in hopes to change the system without revealing who they are. Two noteworthy examples in today’s society are the Guy Fawkes mask associated with Anonymous, and the balaclava that is worn by Pussy Riot in Russia. Nevertheless, this paper proposes that these masks actually hinder the resistance movement both groups hope to achieve. In order to illustrate this thought, the masks will be discussed in two perspectives. First, this paper will use Karl Marx’s concept of the “Commodity Fetish” and how these masks – because of popularity – have become a trend within society. Next, the masks will be examined through Slavoj Žižek’s notion of how disguises are dangerous because they are embedded with an idea. However, since both groups have a variety of ideas, it is difficult to distinguish what central cause they are fighting for. Therefore, the de-individualization that stems from the use of masks is actually ineffective for protestors, because their activism is lost through the emergence of fads, overwhelming scope of ideas, and lack of humanization.

The Guy Fawkes mask and the balaclava were never initially created to become masks for protestors. They were appropriated by select individuals, and through their success in culture industries, have become a symbol of opposition and resistance. The origins of the Guy Fawkes mask derive from Alan Moore and David Lloyd in their graphic novel “V for Vendetta.” Continue reading

A Trip to the North: Yukon Bound


I should not have gone to The Yukon, because now nothing will compare to the amazing surroundings I had for a week.

Initially, I was pretty ignorant in my perception of The Yukon; I thought it was going to be purely small independent stores, expensive to purchase anything, and just “alright we’re up North away from anything!” Oh how I was wrong.


Whitehorse is so much different, I am thankful to have visited The Yukon for it has given me another perspective on life. In sum, the Whitehorse is just like any other city and includes many of the same amenities you will find in Toronto:

  1. There are franchises if you want to grab a quick Tim’s or Starbucks. However be sure to check out their cafes, as they are adorable!
  2. Prices were on par with Ontario prices (gas was even $104.9 when I arrived)
  3. There’s a nightlife if you want to hit the town
  4. Lots of amazing Museums and centres to check out, there are so many things to do that a week was not enough

20160502_122400Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre

Yukon Bergingia Interpretive Centre looks at the mass of land that covered between Russia and Yukon during prehistoric times. This land mass was used as a way for migration during the inter-glacial periods, and is speculated that prehistoric humans also used it as a route. The centre looks at these prehistoric times and explains in a hands-on fashion the migration patterns that would have occurred.

Oh, and woolly mammoths. Tons of woolly mammoths to see.


Yukon Transportation Centre


Near the Beringia Centre is the Yukon Transportation Centre, which has an innovative layout full of vehicles that were used to transport people, items, and goods during the Gold Rush up to roughly WWII. I really liked the license plate display, as this is something unique to the Yukon. Earlier plates had a small dot of gold paint painted inside the miner’s dish (Alicia made sure I was informed the moment I landed in Whitehorse)!

MacBride Museum of Yukon History

One of my favourite museums, as their graphics and displays were well done. Whoever their graphic designer is, is definitely a keeper. As the name suggests, MacBride Museum looks at the History of Yukon documenting from the Gold Rush up to present times. There is a mixture of exhibits both inside and out which I find makes it unique! It was nice to see Sam McGee’s cabin, the different animals which can be found up North, artwork, as well as a set-up of artifacts from the gold rush to roughly WWII. This layout is pretty creative, as they have actually created realistic ‘rooms’ in which the items would have been found in.

Additionally, we were lucky enough to be visiting during the Jim Robb special exhibit, which included a mixture of his artwork as well as items he collected (predominately from Dawson City). This was my favourite exhibit as the display was put-together in such a creative and fun way.

Yukon Wildlife Preserve

20160506_161630Why not see animals in a way you know they are being treated fairly in! Some of the animals were unfortunately shy and did not come out (ahem, those moooooooose), while others were a-plenty (dem mountain goat were showing off their balancing skills).

Be sure to dress for a 5km walk/hike (I did not.)

Yukon Brewing

20160508_025733Yukon Brewing is the main beer to be found in the Yukon, but there are still other beers that can be found both on tap and in bottles. I really enjoyed Yukon Brewing, they have some neat tasting beers, and I hope they find a way to start distributing in Ontario!

For those interested in the beer industry, they also offer daily tours inside their brewery. The tour was both informative and fun, as well as gave an insight to how their brewery strives to remain local and environmentally friendly.

At the end of the tour, you have the opportunity to sample a number of their beers (of course working your way from their lighter brews to the darker brews so that you can appreciate each one thoroughly) as well as sample their new vodka. My favourite still remains with Yukon Gold!

Related to Yukon Beer are of course the Bars… My ranking for the ones I got to visit are as follows:

The Dirty Northern Bastard (classier) // The Miner’s Daughter (connected to TDNB) // 202 (Pool tables available, somewhat of a dance floor ) // Lizards (larger space, dancing available) // 98 (Fiddling on Thursday)

Mini Roadtrippin’ Around Yukon

Haines Junction

Haines Junction is a village roughly 1h 40min from Whitehorse. It has a spectacle view of the mountains. This is really the only reason to drive out: for the sights.


Dawson City

Dawson City is a must for The Yukon as it is the original capital. This is also where gold was first struck causing the Klondike Gold Rush. It’s hard to believe that at one time it was a booming city with a population of 40,000! Big difference to the current population of roughly 1400. Visiting Dawson City is surreal as it’s essentially what the wild-west would feel like in the 1890s (boardwalks and dirt included).

It was a neat experience to visit old buildings, stay in the “Aurora Inn” (if you plan on staying a night I highly recommend this inn!) and enjoy a relaxing walk around the town.

If you decide on visiting Dawson City, you must complete the “Sourtoe Cocktail” at the Downtown Hotel. The famous drink costs $5 for the toe, and roughly another $5 for you liquor (depending on your taste). I chose a classic shot of Yukon Jack for this.

“You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch the toe.”

Yukon was by far the best decision I have made. I am glad I had the opportunity to visit this amazing place in Canada, as it has provided me with a new perspective: Strive for adventure. Experience everything. Take moments in. Be courageous.

Take a risk.

Bill C-51: A Construction of Fear by Conservatives

Bill C-51: A Construction of Fear by Conservatives
Written for “Risk Communication” course in 2015
(Conservative Party were in power at time)

Individuals navigate their lives through a world saturated by constant streams of news, often provided with narrow perspectives. Recently, Canadians have been surrounded with information of possible terrorist threats put forth by their government through official statements, political ads, and petitions sent to them online and through mail. As a result of the lack of information provided with these larger concepts, Canadians become fearful of the possible risk of an attack on their own nation. It is clear that the Conservative Party is constructing this state of fear within the nation in order to condition Canadians to align themselves with agreeing with the passing of Bill C-51. As such, this paper will discuss three strategies the Conservatives are employing to gain the trust of Canadians. The first aspect deals with the persuasive language used in speeches and advertisements, as well as the interchangeable use of the words “ISIS” and “Islam,” making the link that there is a risk regarding this religion. Next, it is difficult for civilians to find unbiased information regarding Bill C-51, and often any information provided by the government is incomplete leaving much to individual interpretation. Finally, Conservatives tie the use of language and lack of information with powerful imagery in their advertisements which is problematic for it creates certain connotations sparking specific intended outlooks. In order for this paper to provide a fair account of the legislation of Bill C-51, the viewpoints of the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP will be consulted to ensure the three main parties are represented. Nevertheless, it is ultimately clear that the Conservatives are utilizing persuasive language, incomplete information, and imagery to sway Canadians with the implementation of Bill C-51.

Foremost, it is important to acknowledge that this paper does not condone the actions of terrorist groups, but rather it is how the current Government of Canada is handling the situation. Mark Konty, Blythe Duell and Jeff Joireman explain how governments use times of war to pass legislation that serve more interests than public safety alone. In most cases, “the threat is overstated” so that civilians feel that there is an immediate and impending risk on their nation (Konty 95). Using this fear, governments are able to gain the trust of the civilians in passing certain legislation. This has been observed both before and after 9/11, as outlined by Noam Chomsky who writes that the creation of fear will pass the legislation but in turn only supports a business-dominated consensus, not public safety (Chomsky 7). It is clear that with Bill C-51, Conservatives are hoping to achieve more than the “public safety” it states it is addressing. Bill C-51 will introduce preventive detention which could indicate aggressive interrogation, “a new information-sharing regime” which changes how information is internally shared between governmental bodies, speech rights will also be affected – such as the use of “terrorism” in one’s personal conversation could place them under inspection – as well as the ability to censor the internet (Forcese 2015). In sum, Bill C-51 offers more power to law enforcement which could alter the landscape of protests in Canada.

The construction of fear is most notable through persuasive language employed by the Conservatives. Persuasive language scares individuals because it does not provide a complete picture when words such as “ISIS,” “Islam” and “niqab” are casually said in speeches. It is clear that the words are overused and are generally said interchangeably which is the main problem. This is first seen on the Conservatives website in a post written by Steven Blaney. The blogpost titled “Protecting Canadians from Terrorist Threats” is superimposed on an image of what appears to be terrorists holding AK47s into the air. Blaney’s article features many carefully chosen words creating the illusion that Canadians are under immediate suspected attack. For example, Blaney opens up his post with the phrase “the world is a dangerous place, and Canada is not immune to the global threat of terrorism” (Blaney 2015). This sets a certain tone for the remainder of the article, convincing the reader that Canada is under immediate danger and that everyone should be aware of this “potential risk.” It is what George Gerbner explains as the “mean world syndrome” (Dyson 2011). If talk of potential terrorist attacks are repeated endlessly, civilians will be convinced it is a great concern. Blaney continues to write: “Jihadist extremists are targeting Canada because of what we stand for. We are known around the world as a beacon of peace, democracy, and individual freedom. That stands in stark contrast to the totalitarian regime they seek to impose across the globe. We will never sacrifice those rights and freedoms that define us in our quest to improve public safety” (Blaney 2015). It is not accidental Blaney uses “targeting,” “beacon,” “stark contrast,” or “impose” in his write up. These words carry the connotation that terrorist groups are a risk to Canada because they do not agree with how Canada is run; it is something they wish to destroy. Blaney offers the solution of agreeing with the implementation of Bill C-51 and how this will only strengthen Canada’s chances against a terrorist attack. Continue reading

Boy Bands: Good for Masculinity, Bad for Femininity

The culture industry is one of the central areas in which genders are constructed, because of the influence popular culture has on all aspects of society (television, music, fashion and books). Within the music industry, boy bands have become a popular concept, since they can be extremely successful with girls and young women to earn quick money. Boy bands are typically appreciated for their vocal abilities and dancing capabilities which awe audience members. Nevertheless, this paper presents that the concept of “the boy band” is a site of gender reaffirmation for femininity, while it is a place to develop new forms of masculinity. This will be demonstrated through the analysis of three boy bands, over three decades: The Backstreet Boys (1990s), O-Town (2000s) and One Direction (2010s). To illustrate the replication of femininity and new wave of masculinity, three factors will be considered. First, this paper will survey lyrics from each of the three bands and how females are overtly sexualized in each of their songs. Next, fans (who are mostly girls and young women) are often characterized as hormonal in the media, which is used to devalue female sexuality. Lastly, all three of these bands perform in sexual manners reaffirming their heterosexuality to audience members and will often perform to females instead of with. Therefore, as a consequence of these boy bands’ lyrics, fan base representation and spectacle of concerts, patriarchal scripts of femininity are reiterated while hegemonic masculinity is able to be explored. Continue reading

Product Placement: An Opportunity for Canadianism

While capitalism continues to exist, audiences will find themselves subject to an increase in product placement, as it is an effective practice for television and movie industries to fund their projects. This paper will analyze product placement specifically in the Canadian television industry because there is little funding available for Canadian producers, hence why product placement is a better alternative in order to generate Canadian content for its citizens. Since product placement will not disappear in the near future, it is important in how it is interwoven into television and movies, so that users are not irritated by the images. To illustrate branding in television, two shows will be considered and the ways in which they address product placement by their use of overt “product integration.” Product integration takes product placement a step further by actually merging the brand into the story, where the product becomes separate from the background (Wenner 113). The first show that will be analyzed is Being Erica, which was unsuccessful at integrating the Ford Focus into one of their episodes which led to its decrease in weekly viewership. Contrasting that, Corner Gas has been successful at integrating products into each of their episodes since an environment was created that made it possible. Therefore, Being Erica and Corner Gas will demonstrate the need for product placement in Canadian television to ensure that there is subsidizing available to keep these shows on the air, as well as identify when product placement is effective and when it is not. Continue reading