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Coco —the film you didn’t know you needed this holiday season

Disney’s latest movie, in collaboration with Pixar Animations, is called Coco. This is a movie every child, and even every adult, should see. When walking into the theatre, I did not know what to expect. I’m a long time Pixar and Disney lover and generally find that their movies are good. It’s home to classics like Toy Story and the last Pixar movie I saw, Finding Dory. Last summer, there was Moana and I left the theatre full of pure happiness knowing such family-friendly movies are still out there.

When I decided to see Coco, I didn’t gather much from the trailer. I knew it was a movie based on the Mexican celebration for Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead. This historical holiday is based on Mexican heritage and can be traced back to Indigenous culture. It is a day where families gather and celebrate the memories of their loved ones who have passed away. Families visit graves and lay offerings and gifts to their ancestors. They also put up pictures of loved ones lost. This opportunity is to encourage the souls of their loved ones to visit.

Disney’s attempt to tackle such a historical topic in a manner that could be presented to children was bold and risky, but it paid off. The concept of death is not uncommon in Disney/ Pixar movies, but it has certainly never been highlighted in such a manner like the movie Coco.

This movie is about family traditions and values. Family dynamics in turn shape us more than we can imagine, even based on the practices of our ancestors. Without giving away too much, the story follows  a 12-year-old boy named Miguel Riviera, with his trusty side kick, a stray dog named Dante. They end up, through a series of mishaps, in the land of the dead where Miguel seeks the help of his great great grandfather. The land of the dead displayed in Coco is full of skeletons, bright lights, lots of music, lots of dancing, and lots of culture. Miguel has a love of music, but this is heavily frowned upon by his family based on the actions of his great great grandfather. Spanish music played a big part in the sounds of this movie, with original songs like Remember Me, performed by Benjamin Bratt, who played a famously ( dead) musical and film star, Ernesto de la Cruz, Miguel’s musical idol. Other songs included The World Es Mi Familia and Un Poco Loco.

The role of Miguel was voiced by 12-year-old newcomer, Anthony Gonzalez. who delivered an energetic and heartwarming performance. Nothing, however beats the actual star, Coco, who is Miguel’s great grandmother. She deals with memory loss due to her age, but dreams of one day being reunited with her ‘papa’ who is now in the land of the dead.

If you decide to watch this movie, it wont be odd to start thinking about your own family ancestry and remembering your loved ones lost. Coco captures the heart and actual soul of what it means to value and pay respect to your family as generations go by.

Coco was released on November 22 and can be found at your local movie theatre. Have you seen Coco? Comment below

Premier Wynne shows what female leadership can do for climate

This week has been a whirlwind for the provincial government. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s is in Mexico City to discuss environmental and international relations, all the while promoting women within these industries.

The premier made the trek down south to discuss the importance of climate change and the economy with Mexican leaders, exporters, and potential investors and to host the first-ever Women in Leadership Climate Change Panel Discussion. The participants of this panel discussed the role that women can play in the economic transition to a low-carbon economy and explored the unique experiences of the Indigenous people in the fight against climate change.

Several other prominent women leaders were present as well, including the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, Her Excellency, Patricia Espinosa. Espinosa was elected executive secretary in May 2016 at the Paris Climate Change Conference. She is originally from Mexico and has worked in foreign affairs between the Americas for several years. Espinosa was joined on the panel by Tanya Muller Garcia, the Minister of the Environment of Mexico City. Garcia actively promoted cycling programs throughout Mexico City and played a large part in integrating the region’s transit system.

Wynne has had a large impact on the climate change agenda in Ontario, most recently with her adoption of cap and trade in Ontario. Part of her agenda in Mexico is to promote an open trade relationship with Mexico City, who has recently adopted a pilot project cap and trade program themselves. An interworking relationship of cap and trade with Mexico would have a significant economic impact on Ontario’s new climate change incentive, and would integrate will with the programs in California and Quebec. Recently, cap and trade has come under fire because Quebec and California have failed to sell all of their emissions, leaving both governments in debt. Many worry Ontario will suffer the same fate.

The climate change conference is a good opportunity for Wynne to show that Ontario is not concerned with the xenophobic agenda that Trump followers and the US is currently leading towards, and is instead open to creating trade partnerships involving climate change. It is inspiring to see a representative of the Canadian political fabric represent women interests, tackling environmental concerns, and promoting healthy international trade relations in the midst of struggling global unity.

It is easy to see this week as a win for Wynne.

 

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What it means to be Mexican

by Christine Stoesser

“Resignation is one of our most popular virtues. We admire fortitude in the face of adversity more than the most brilliant triumph,” wrote Nobel Prize winning author and Mexican Octavio Paz in his 1961 collection of essays The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico. On a trip to Mexico this past August I came face to face with a country vastly different from my own, yet linked somehow through its inclusion in the North American continent, and its close proximity to the bombast of the United States.

After two days in Mexico City I was already trying to form a cohesive opinion of my new surroundings; they eluded me. I was puzzled, and still am. My boyfriend’s iPod was stolen out of his suitcase in our hostel in the Zocalo; his underwear neatly folded as if in apology. The Zocalo (central square of the city) was once an Aztec city of immense pyramids before the conquistadores arrived and tore them down, building stunning cathedrals where they had stood, using the rubble as building material and the Aztecs as slaves. Underneath all this history, in the Zocalo subway station, is a glass-encased model of the original Zocalo. Although underground, it symbolizes a culture that has never truly died. The subway itself is a running example of ‘fortitude in adversity’—moving approximately 21 million people around 163 stations takes a special kind of courage— the service is smooth, the price right (about $.30) and the riders extraordinarily patient, and accommodating, knowing exactly how to angle their elbows and knees in order to create just a little more space.

Remarkable as well is Mexico’s reverence for the arts—celebrated artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo adorn Mexico’s $500 peso bill, their tumultuous, affair-ridden marriage a symbol of national pride. It is interesting to note that while Rivera’s murals ensconce the interior of Mexico City’s gorgeous Palacio des Bellas Artes, and his iconic mural Sunday afternoon dream at the Alameda Park hangs still in the park of the same name, it is the self-portraits of Kahlo that hang in the houses of the people, in restaurants, shops, and cafes. In Oaxaca, and throughout much of Mexico, art is not contained in galleries—it’s everywhere, and sustains the life of the sculptors, woodcarvers, potters, and textile artists who make and sell it. Music as well is integrated effortlessly into Mexican society, and every musician is multi-talented, confident, and always ready to perform.

At the onset of my adventure I felt annoyed by what I considered an overwhelming assumption on the Mexicans’ part that I was wealthy—by the end of the trip, I had realized that, in comparison, I am. Surprisingly, however, I only saw one person in three and a half weeks who was likely homeless, and unemployed. Everyone else was at work doing something, anything, whether it was driving a Collectivo taxi, running a public washroom, or waiting at a remote gas station with a basket full of mangoes for the next vehicle to appear. One Yucatan penitentiary was actually selling hammocks handmade by its inmates.

“Our poverty can be measured by the frequency and luxuriousness of our holidays,” wrote Paz of the Mexican fiesta, which is usually a celebration for a patron saint of a city or village. “…Fiestas are our only luxury.”

I was lucky to attend a fiesta in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. There were fireworks, and food, and drinks served while people danced to a band that grew exponentially drunker. I felt out of place but not unwelcome amidst the revelry, unaccustomed to such a blatant sense of community. But if I understood for a moment what it means to be Mexican, it is now lost; thus I feel I must return, perhaps in the winter.