By R. Flora Kim.
I was first introduced to Clarence Sponagle when I viewed ‘Eighteen’ – a soul touching coming of age story about a teenager named Pip who, like his WWII grandfather, felt lost in the chaos of his environment. Sponagle played Clark, a young street hustler who, strangely, helps Pip discover himself. Though the film wasn’t widely known, Sponagle’s performance was memorable in my eyes. Sadly, I hadn’t seen the actor in a film since.
That was until this past Summer, when I made a last minute decision to attend a small film festival put on by InFocus Film School at the SFU Goldcorp Theatre. After films about a woman who changes the life of a homeless man, a world where humans have a finite amount of tears they can shed, and a politically driven-shocker about female menstruation, I was taken aback to see Sponagle again in a short film called ‘Inconscious.’ It’s been 14 years since I watched ‘Eighteen’ yet I recognized Sponagle immediately as he played a sassy nurse.
After the screenings I saw him chatting away with attendees, I had to say hello. He was pleasant, and asked what I do. I told him I was trying to build my career as a writer, and asked if he’d like to be my first interview. To my disbelief, he accepted and we met for coffee the following week. I first asked him what drove him to become an actor.
“The Disney film, ‘Pinocchio’ and my best friend Lorena Wood,” he said. “Seeing Pinocchio run off with an acting troupe was so exciting for me as a kid, even though the troupe he was with wasn’t very nice. In high school, Lorena made me audition for the school play, ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker. I was cast as the father. Lorena was a very big part of why I continued on to train as an actor, and we both moved to Vancouver to start our careers in acting together in 1995.”
Sponagle studied at the acclaimed theatre school: Studio 58. It is a conservatory style training program where actors not only learned their craft, but familiarize themselves with production as well, including lighting, costumes, props, etc before finally performing on stage in front of an audience.
“In doing this style of training, I was able to understand my body, voice, and technique in a way that no other form of training would have allowed me to learn,” Sponagle states. “The training at Studio 58 is still, in my opinion, the highest caliber of training in this country when it comes to theatre. You learn who you are and how far you can push yourself and allow yourself to be pushed.”
Sponagle’s first big acting job was in the world premiere of a play called ‘The Shooting Stage’ by Michael Lewis McLennan. Sponagle was cast in the lead role as Elliott.
“The experience was very surreal,” he says. “I was 23 years old, my face was on all the promotional material all over Vancouver, the playwright was in the rehearsal hall with us. I was about to play an extremely innocent and vulnerable 16 year old. It was fantastic!”
This role lead to Sponagle winning the highly acclaimed Vancouver Jessie Richardson Theatre Award.
“I felt I finally belonged,” Sponagle recalls. “I was finally being taken seriously. I worked hard as a young actor, I worked hard as an actor in training, that Jessie made it all feel worth it.”
Sponagle was later nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award, the acclaimed Toronto theatre award, for his role as Gogo in the play ‘Two Weeks, Twice A Year.’ He then toured as an actor, performing in plays across Canada and the United States. This led into his foray as a screen-actor, a completely different skill set than he was accustomed. However, not long after filming his lead role in ‘Eighteen,’ Sponagle hit a crossroads and decided to leave acting.
“It wasn’t an easy decision at all, and in many regards, it was kind of like acting left me a little as well,” he says. “Auditioning is tough, hearing no is hard and being on hold for a ‘what if’ outcome is exciting at first then extremely disappointing to hear that they went in a different direction. I was also ready for a shift in my personal life and taking a step away was the right choice at the time.”
Sometimes you and your passions need a break. Time away from something you love will inevitably open to whether you truly loved it or not. Nearly a decade after leaving the craft he so solemnly loved, Sponagle is ready to perform once again.
“I’ve missed it terribly but tried to convince myself that I had my time,” he states. “‘That now I’m too old to go back into it, I didn’t like it as much as I did.’ Those little demons that pop in all our minds when we feel nervous or when you second-guess yourself, you know? When I finally looked in the mirror and really saw myself, I had no more excuses as to why not to jump back in. I felt ready to take the risk and go back to class, be vulnerable and see what it was like for me as a grown man. I’m very happy I did. I hope to bring maturity, a new understanding of who I am and an entirely different awareness of confidence into this. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens. There is never a guarantee for any of us no matter what we seek out to do but I’m excited, oddly enough, about the ‘what if’”
Sponagle concludes with a life-changing piece of advice he received from the late Ellen Albertini Dow, who famously played Adam Sandler’s rapping grandmother in ‘The Wedding Singer.’ Something he hopes will guide the rebirth of his acting career.
“‘Always be honest, sincere and always remember Clarence, you’re very, very good at this!’ Those words I’ve held very dear to my heart.”
Rally Against Police Murder July 4 Surrey BC
Vigil for Ejaz Choudry and Rally Against Police Murder
MOVED TO JULY 4
We demand and public inquiry into how Police Murder are handled.
The Al-jamia Mosque in Vancouver and Coalition Against Bigotry will hold a prayer vigil on Friday June 26th at the Al-Jamia Mosque at 655 West 8th Ave during at
during Friday Juma prayers at 1 pm to mourn the murdered of Choudry, a 62 year old South Asian man struggling with his mental health by the police in Malton Ontario on Saturday June 20th.
Because it a 50 person limit in the Mosque, people can join and online solidarity prayer vigil on Facebook. Please can pray in their own way and time or have a moment of silence to think about the tragic murder of Ejaz Choudry.
Then join West Coast Cop Watch and Coalition Against Bigotry-Pacific for a Rally and March Against Police murder and abuse on July 1st at 1 pm at the Central City Mall where the Independent Investigation Office of BC is located, to protest the lack of police responsibly and accountability of the murder and abuse by the police. We demand a public inquiry into how police murders and handled in BC. We want to remember Chantel Moore, Ejaz Choudry Kyaw Din, Tony Du, Navarone Woods and many others, mostly Indigenous, Black and People of Colour who have been murdered or abused by the police.
Kyaw Din, who also struggled with his mental health like Ejaz Choudry was also murdered by the RCMP in Coquitlam last year in his home. The Din family held a rally outside the IIO office and Surrey City Centre in February demanding answers from the IIO. They don’t even know the name of the police officer who killed their brother. We also remember Tony Du who was murdered by the Vancouver Police, a Vietnamese, Chinese man also struggling with his Mental health. The police officer who shot Du did hot get charged with murder.
We also Navarone Woods, a Gitxsan indigenous man murdered by the Skytrain Police. The Coroners Jury and also asked for better mental health support during police incidents.
We ask people to wear masks and keep 2 meters distance. We will march to the RCMP E Division Headquarters and then end with a potluck physical distance picnic in Green Timbers Urban Forest.
We acknowledge that this event is being organised on the occupied, traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples – specifically the Musquem, Squamish, Kwantlen, Semiahmoo, Stolo, Musqueam, Katzie and Qayqayt Nations.
For more information, contact Imtiaz Popat at 604 396-2072
Local Innovation Combats Overdose Crisis
OVERDOSE INTERVENTION APP: New Digital Technology Released to Address the Overdose Crisis
Today, Oxus Machine Works Limited (OMW Ltd)., a local health technology firm that specializes in innovations for diverse communities, announced that they are releasing the Overdose Intervention App (ODi) to combat the ongoing Public Health Emergency and the staggering rise of overdose deaths during COVID-19.
Of this innovation and its impact, Upkar Singh Tatlay (Managing Director) of the tech firm Oxus Machine Works said, “This vital tool engages the entire community in ensuring we are prepared for any circumstance that involves an overdose emergency. Often the onus is on the user themselves but by placing this digital asset in everyone’s hands we are making sure that this a community-wide response and we are all empowered to act. In addition, communities that are most directly impacted by this health crisis such as South Asians are often left out of consideration when it comes to programming, technology, and content. ODi ensures that the unique needs of BIPOC communities are met through the delivery of linguistic and culturally appropriate content.”
The deployment of the Overdose Intervention App will happen through a network of peers with lived-experience along with the ongoing work of outreach events that are held every week. Media and key stakeholders are encouraged to attend to see proactive steps taking place to address the overdose crisis.
Overdose Intervention App: The Overdose Intervention App (ODi) allows users of different communities and language backgrounds to rapidly respond to an overdose emergency with resources and guidance that is suitable to their needs. This app includes an innate 9-1-1 calling feature, techniques to identify a suspected overdose, steps to administer naloxone, and sequential guidance on emergency first aid response. The Overdose Intervention App allows everyone to access linguistic and culturally relevant resources to offset the dangers of an overdose for free on both Android and Apple devices.
The Witch of British Columbia, Canada | Stand-Up Comedy by Madhav Mehandru
This video is about last year when 3 Stand-up comedians from Punjab had a stand-up comedy show in British Columbia [Victoria], Canada on 1st August 2019. How I and other Stand-up comedians Raj and Akshay from Kapurthala [Punjab] tackled difficulties of first time going in Canada and performing on a big stage in victoria [British Columbia], Canada. As a Punjabi, we were very excited to visit Canada and performed there and it was a rollercoaster ride from landing in Canada and meeting difficulties from time to time. First, we had difficulty in understanding English than when I met a witch in Victoria [British Columbia] and how we tacked that witch then our show organizer refused to pay. This video covers our days in Canada from 31 July to 3rd August and finally arriving home in Kapurthala, Punjab on 4th August.
Follow me on social media Profiles :- Instagram:@madhav.live/
By Madhav Mehandru
DIVERSEcity CEO Neelam Sahota talks about supporting mothers at home and in the workplace for Mother’s Day
On Mother’s Day this year, let’s take time to not only celebrate mothers, but really acknowledge them. See them. Not just the smile on their lips, but the worry in their eyes. The exhaustion on their faces. The load on their shoulders.
The COVID-19 global crisis has highlighted the emotional, often invisible, workload that mothers carry. It has also increased that workload.
As we self-isolate in our homes, mothers are carrying the burden of homeschooling, often while working full-time jobs from home, in addition to the cooking, cleaning, shopping and so on.
Many are also still working outside the home, as leaders on health care’s frontlines, or working in essential or service industries, helping us all safely access groceries and essentials during this crisis. We are also seeing amazing women leaders rise up to battle this crisis at the policy level.
For all of them, traditional lines of work and home are being blurred, and it’s important we don’t dismiss or ignore the pressure mothers may be under now — and as we rebuild our workplaces after COVID-19.
As a mother myself, I remember the challenges of building a career in a traditional workplace when my kids were young. When I took on the role of CEO at DIVERSEcity with three children under the age of 12, I was fortunate to have a strong support network. But I still had to make accommodations and choose priorities for myself as a professional versus a mother. During this crisis, I can only imagine the strain working mothers of young children are currently under.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission says that COVID-19 is “having a disproportionate impact on women. Social and economic barriers have been amplified for racialized women, Indigenous women, migrant women, women with low income, single mothers and other women. They are at greater risk of job loss, poverty, food insecurity, loss of housing and domestic violence.”
The Commission recommends taking a feminist approach to re-establishing our workplaces. Canadian Women’s Foundation calls for us to invest in diverse women’s leadership opportunities and empower girls, asking us to imagine what women could achieve if we supported them to the fullest.
Flexible workplaces need to be more of the norm
As a leader of a social services organization, I want all my employees, especially mothers, to feel supported during this crisis. As we all continue to work from home, providing services to our clients through phone and virtual options, I want them to know we see them, we appreciate them and we will give them the flexibility they need not just during COVID-19, but as part of our permanent organizational culture. I would not be in my role today if I did not have flexibility in my career along the way. This is my commitment to working mothers in our organization. You don’t have to choose between being a mother and being a professional. Organizational cultures like DIVERSEcity’s need to be the equalizer and more of the norm in our workplaces today.
As for what’s next? Let’s use the lessons from this crisis to reimagine the 21st century workplace more thoughtfully. Let’s all be more flexible and more authentic to who we are and what we need as professionals, as parents, as humans.
To all the mothers holding things together for their families in these challenging times, have a happy Mother’s Day.
Seeking Yoga Instructors interested in giving classes outdoors in parks
Just wondering if there are any Yoga Instructors interested in giving outdoor classes at Bakerview Park in South Surrey? It is an awesome, well tended park with lots of space for social distancing. Since Community Centers are closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future, activities like this would be great and popular, I bet. Specially with the weather getting nicer everyday. Anyone?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.
16jul2:00 pm3:00 pmMental Health after Head Injury: Free Webinar by Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Location: Free webinar by Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic, 13737 96 Ave Suite 204, Surrey, BC V3V 0C6 Cost: FREE
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