What makes a life path meaningful? All of us have to choose pathways every day, in our physical reality and in our mental environment. Some lead to beautiful mistakes, others to joyful epiphanies—but throughout, our choices help determine the kind of people we want to be and the ideas we want to pursue. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” The zinesters behind the “Pathways of Life” issue spent an intense week doing just that, carving out their own paths as thinkers and artists during an intensively creative workshop series at the University of Ottawa campus in May 2013. From powerful words to tongue-in-cheek drawings, their zine projects show off their playfulness and passion, embodying the commanding idea that you only live once (YOLO!).
Scroll over the photos to view the zinester biographies
Nikita “Inspiring Silence” Cheng is a 14-year old girl who loves music, making people laugh and being very creative. She is in grade eight at Elizabeth Park Public School. Her favourite way to express herself is through drawing. She loves to make something out of nothing. Her favourite approach to drawing is realism, and she has a special interest in human eyes and hands. She has had her work displayed in an art gallery and was recognized in an international art competition. One thing that puzzles her is why people feel the need to lie. She thinks it’s easier to just tell the truth.
Nicholas “Insane Sierra” Zuger is a grade eight student at Frank Ryan school. He loves photography and astronomy, and wonders about the nature of perfection and human awareness. As a photographer, he tries to reveal the secrets behind the objects he photographs, forcing himself into the “shoes” of his subject, feeling and thinking as it would. In order to grasp the attention of his viewers, he reaches deep down in his photographs, unveiling the secrets, however not revealing all secrets, to make his viewers think and find their own interpretations of his work.
Carole “Creative Humpa-Dumpa” Rondeau is a grade nine student at St-Francis Xavier and is puzzled by the loneliness of others when our world has so many people to interact with. Carole enjoys writing to express her creativity in her spare time and has a passion for the countryside. Carole enjoys camping with family during the summer vacation and tobogganing in the winter. She enjoys swimming in the nearby creek at her house and making s'mores by the campfire. Carole is enjoying her first year of high school and is anxious to turn 15 this July.
Amelia “Wise Charlie Rockland” Cornick is a grade nine student at Woodroffe High School. The things that puzzle her most are all aspects of death and everything that concerns people. She feels most creative through visual and performing arts, specifically drawing and music. She thinks she is a very artistic but also shy person. She is almost always deep in thought. Besides the arts, Amelia also likes science. She is in tune with who she is, and thinks of herself as different and a bit of an outsider, in a good way. She thinks what you do and how you do it are more important than your physical self.
Nicolette “Profound Nicki Minaj” Jansen is a grade eight student who attends Bishop Smith High School. She is an intelligent, bright person who loves being creative by drawing and writing in her diary. She is puzzled by the fact that all humans look so different from each other. Other things that interest her are sports, including soccer, volleyball and baseball. In her free time, she loves to read anything by James Patterson and Rick Riordan since they bring her into a whole new world. Her favourite food is pizza and her favourite colour is blue.
Shayla “Imaginative Spock the Rock” Beauchamp is a multi-talented grade eight student at Immaculata High School with a captivating, super fun personality. Writing is her favourite artistic pastime; she loves writing about personal experience, inspirational quotes, fictional stories and questionable situations that are difficult to comprehend. She loves jazz dancing, drawing and chilling in the sun with her music plugged in. She would like to have a job that involves helping people and giving back to the community. Her two favourite school subjects are English and math. She is an encouraging, clever and humorous friend who is easy to talk to.
Zainab “Fabulous Incognito” Nusrat is in grade 10 at Ridgement High School. Some of her interests include using the computer, Harry Potter books, Bollywood movies and writing. Before she dies, Zainab wants to visit India and make a change in the world. Some of her favourite places include Wonderland, Toronto and Montreal. Zaibab finds what happens after death very puzzling. Zainab can play rock songs by Queen on the violin.
Nasrine "Jerry Deep" Ahmed is a very creative, funny and interesting person. She attends Roberta Bondar Public School because of all the extracurricular programs. Something that puzzles Nasrine is why the earth is round—why can’t it be triangular? Nasrine loves to spend her time taking pictures and drawing nature scenes. Nasrine loves to sit at the table with her family and eat a nice plate of pasta. Her favourite books are the Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick and she also likes books by Susan Colins. She enjoys playing with her younger siblings at the park and occasionally plays soccer and baseball with her friends. She is a very fun person to be around.
Sarah “Persuasive Fluffy” Pledge Dickson is a very talented violinist attending Canterbury High School in ninth grade. Music isn’t her only talent; she also aspires to become an author. Her biggest dream in life is to write a novel. You can tell she’s a total bookworm—her favorite Canadian author is Tim Wynn Jones and she also loves the Harry Potter series. The perfect Friday night for Sarah would be snuggling up in her PJs watching Johnny Depp movies. She also loves baking and playing soccer. Something that puzzles Sarah is how the universe seems never-ending.
Dylan “Creative Old Dusty” Sova is a grade eight student at Saint Mark’s. After spending five minutes with him, you can tell he’s not shy. His intellectual way of speaking makes him seem older than he is. Though Dylan does not believe himself to be that realistic, he has a very well-rounded view of himself as a dramatic, controversial and open person. Dylan is highly observant of people and the world. He is into sports, drama and extremist ideas.
Emma “Intelligent Plato” Orhun is 14 years old and attends Greenbank Middle School. She is an only child from Quebec and Turkey, and sees herself as an outgoing, creative, thoughtful and artistic person. She expresses her creativity by singing, writing, drawing, and a lot more. Her favourite subject in school is math and art, and her favourite extracurricular is Taikwondo. Her hobbies are hanging with friends and reading. She is puzzled by two questions: What is beyond our universe and why are we here?
Lulu “Scientific Rockzilla" Sheng is an intelligent grade eight student who attends Greenbank Middle School an hour away from her hometown in Barrhaven, Ontario. Lulu lives with her parents, her sister and her dog Rocky. In her free time, she enjoys longboarding and making sculptures. She is an outdoors person and loves canoe and kayak. She plays a total of four instruments: piano, guitar, flute and clarinet. She is freakishly good at the limbo. What puzzles Lulu is whether we will ever be able to overcome poverty and starvation. Lulu has found a creative outlet in speeches, competing in two competitions so far.
Curtis “Crazy Mars” Goldthorp is in the eighth grade at Leadcock Public School. The thing that really confuses him the most is why the human mind is so complicated. He likes writing fictional stories. He is also a bassist and loves drawing. He is a hockey player and likes listening to rock. He wants to be a chef and an author when he’s older. Curtis likes camping because he’s a scout. His favourite song is “The Drift” by Blackmail and his favourite colour is orange.
Keanna "Adventurous Rockster the Rock” McLaughlin is a grade eight student who attends St. Columbans Elementary School. She lives in Cornwall, Ontario with her two parents, two sisters and two cats. Keanna likes to spend her spare time reading, gardening or playing volleyball. She is a very intelligent gal and her favourite subjects in school are art, math and science. She expresses her feelings through sketches in her notebook and does so with a high degree of creativity. Keanna is an exceptional swimmer and one day dreams of attending the Olympics. Something she wonders about is the problem of bullying. A funny fact about Keanna is she is terrified of driving over bridges.
Namukasa “Logical Rockerson” Basudde is a 14-year old Canadian girl with an immensely artistic soul. She attends Roberta Bondar Public School as an outgoing grade eight student. At school her favourite subjects are math and gym. She lives with her five sisters, her brother and her amazing mother whom she idolizes greatly. She spends her time drawing, writing and singing the great songs she writes. As extracurriculars, she does dance and plays the guitar. In the future she would love to be a writer or a singer. Two things that confuse her: how other people see the world and how the human mind works.
Frankie “Interesting Gabby” Moss is a 14-year old girl from Chesterville, a countryside near Ottawa. She is in grade nine studing at North Dundas District High School. In her spare time, she does a lot of volunteer jobs, including at a local retirement home and a hospital. She’s also an amazing musician, specializing in the piano and flute. Music is a big part of her life. In addition, she has a special love of water since she started swimming at four years old and is now a competitive swimmer training to become a lifeguard. Besides music, acting is her favourite way to be creative. She’s an academic, an athlete and an artist.
Paige “Intuitive Larry” Trueman is a very lively and free spirited tenth grader at Woodrift High School. She is often puzzled by how selfish people can be. She enjoys sketching and drawing. She also adores cooking and baking, and in the future Paige would like to express her creativity by being a pastry chef. She doesn’t have a favourite colour because she believes they are all so beautiful. This wild child loves making memories and talking to her friends. Her favourite school subject is art and she leads a very well-rounded life.
Karine “Speed Romo" Hajjar is a grade eight student at Roberta Bondar. She is an active teenager involved in music, sports and social activities. Her creative side includes playing clarinet and guitar at school, enjoying and appreciating visual arts, and pondering about the world in philosophy class. She recently visited the National Art Gallery and enjoyed the experience despite a few creepy images. Her biggest fear is spiders. She loves playing sports like basketball and swimming. Karine hopes to deepen her musical talents as she gets older and see the world.
Toby “Thoughtful Rocky” Thomas is a grade 10 student who goes to John McCrae Secondary School. He wishes to create a new society and is really creative. He plays the guitar and piano, and likes drawing and graphic design. Toby’s favourite foods are Thai and Vietnamese, but he hates brussel sprouts. He has a fear of heights and does not like it when ignorant people think they know everything. Toby enjoys the art gallery and finds it very inspiring. He enjoys skateboarding, fashion design, video editing, drawing and learning new things.
Noah “Interesting Ned” Simmons is a grade eight student at Symmes Junior High School. Noah likes to be creative and his favourite way to do so is to play his bass guitar. One question that puzzles him greatly every day is: Why are there seagulls? He quite likes to solve problems and decipher codes. Noah would like to be a DJ as a part-time job and would like to write horror stories as a career. Noah is currently on his way to becoming a lifeguard and is trying to get his bronze medallion. His favourite colours are blue and black.
Amy “Intelligent Kiba-Chan” Yuan is a 17-year old exchange student from Tiansin, China. She goes to Sir Wilfred Laurier and is in grade 11. Amy’s first language is Chinese, but she is working on her English skills while living in Ottawa. She is very smart and enjoys the arts. Amy tries to integrate creativity into her everyday life and her preferred creative outlets are painting and drawing. She also volunteers as an art assistant at St. Francis Elementary School and participated in MS Walk, a charity for people with multiple sclerosis. She enjoys playing basketball, badminton and soccer. She is puzzled about what she will study in university because she is interested in too many things.
Brila makes every effort to publish submissions and reserves the right to edit content. The views expressed in this zine are strictly those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brila and its staff. Check out submission guidelines at www.brila.org. Email your comments about the zine to email@example.com. © 2013
Craig “Creative Bibi” Dwyer is a 14-year old student in grade eight who attends Mother Teresa High School. At home in Manotic, Ontario, Craig enjoys writing. His passion for literature allows him to create remarkable stories, using his imagination to guide him along. Craig’s main hobby is playing video games, his favourite being Call of Duty. Craig wants to be a writer when he is older to have a creative lifestyle. He includes in his writing the ideas he gets from the modern world. Craig wants to see the world in a different way to improve his writing. He is puzzled by the question, “What is death?”
COVER IMAGE BY NICHOLAS ZUGER