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Lakehead University Magazine Fall/Winter 2004

Great Grads

> by Glenn Semaniuk

Carmen Klassen (HBA’90) has come a long way from her childhood days of pretending to be a radio announcer with her father’s tape recorder. Her creative instinct and love of storytelling has led to a successful career with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Carmen KlassenKlassen is host of Mainstreet, a twohour radio program that is broadcast weekday afternoons across mainland Nova Scotia.

"A lot of people like my voice, which is really no credit to me,” she says with a chuckle. “I feel happy when I get positive feedback because I’m genuinely interested in a lot of things, and am truly interested in talking to people to find out their perspectives."

At Lakehead, Klassen started out in the Nursing program, then transferred to the Concurrent Education program (her father Daniel Klassen is a Professor Emeritus of Education). She graduated with an Honours degree in English.

Not long after graduation, she found herself in the United Kingdom studying contemporary theatre in a Master’s program at Lancaster University. While she was finishing her dissertation back home in Thunder Bay, she received a phone call from CBC Radio asking her if she would mind filling in for a theatre reviewer who was away.

Well, the answer was ‘yes’ and Klassen spent the next five years there, eventually becoming host of the afternoon program, Voyage North.

If there has been a pattern in Klassen’s life, it has been knowing how to make the most of opportunities and not being afraid to take a chance. That was evidenced again five years ago, when she pursued the job of Maritime Arts Reporter. She was promoted to host of Mainstreet in December 2002.

Klassen was accompanied to Halifax by her husband Paul Dubras (MA’01), who works as a Naval Intelligence Officer. Even though Klassen’s love for the job comes through static-free on the air, she says working for the public broadcaster is something she does not take for granted.

"I feel it’s a privilege, and I try to do my best everyday because I feel it’s a big responsibility to the listeners, who are also taxpayers."

Glenn Semaniuk is a freelance journalist in Halifax who spent four years as a reporter for Thunder Bay Television. He is currently taking courses leading to a BA through Lakehead’s Office of Continuing Education and Distributed Learning.


Work on a conservation project to restore the skeleton of a 26.5-metre Blue whale in New Zealand is going along "swimmingly," thanks to Mindy Bell’s experiences at Lakehead.

“Working in New Zealand was not something I had planned when I graduated in 2001 with a BA in Anthropology. However, two years later, I found myself on a flight to Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand meaning ‘the land of the long white cloud’). I had a contract with the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch to work as a Conservation Intern on the Blue Whale Conservation Treatment Project. Our job: to prepare the skeleton of a huge female Blue whale for exhibition.

Mindy Bell“Canterbury Museum acquired the colossus in 1908, after its discovery on a beach near the town of Okarito on the west coast. The 26.5-metre skeleton was transported to Christchurch and exhibited outdoors, on the museum grounds, in covered shelters. In the early 1990s, it was moved to indoor storage, on site. Now, as part of the Museum’s current revitalization project, the whale is being resurrected as a showpiece for a proposed new entranceway.

“My job is to deal with the effects of damage and deterioration to the bones, caused by human interaction with the skeleton and exposure to the elements. This is no small order, as there are almost 200 bones weighing a total of 3.5 metric tonnes!

“Each bone is cleared of its old iron mounts, cleaned, and then consolidated (strengthened with an acrylic resin). Broken pieces are re-attached and completely missing pieces are reconstructed.

“It’s quite a task. And initially it was intimidating, but my time at Lakehead ensured that I would ‘swim’ instead of ‘sink.’

“Scott Hamilton’s third-year Zooarchaeology class introduced me to the intricacies of mammalian skeletal structures and the processes of bone deterioration. Weekly seminars in Joe Stewart’s fourthyear Environmental Anthropology course prepared me for the rigours of presenting a paper at my first professional conference (New Zealand Professional Conservators Group), in October 2003.

“My LUSU experience as a Board Member more than prepared me for the diplomatic exercise of working closely with a diverse team of professionals. And, my time with the Office of Admissions and Recruitment enabled me to feel more than comfortable giving the grand tour of our project to visitors, fellow conservation professionals, and other interested staff.”

Mindy Bell left New Zealand at the end of August. She can be contacted by email: melindabell@hotmail.com. If you have a story you would like to share, send it by e-mail to: frances.harding@lakeheadu.ca

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