After a string of losses in 2017, what will happen to ISIS? And how should the world combat the Jihadist group? We check in with counter-terrorism expert Doug Munroe to find out.

What do we get right and wrong about ISIS?

For many, ISIS has become synonymous with terror, with pilots burned alive, men beheaded on video, women abducted into slavery, and attacks on civilians from Brussels to Baghdad. When we see that kind of violence, we simply label it terrorism, which influences our approach. With ISIS, this was a mistake. To be sure, ISIS commits acts of terror, but it also behaves very much like a classic guerrilla force. It has territorial ambitions and wants to create a state. The signs were there from the start: in its early propaganda videos, ISIS could be seen bulldozing the border signs that divide Syria from Iraq.

2017 was not a good year for ISIS, whose aim is to establish a global caliphate based on extremist Islamist ideology. By November, it had been defeated in Syria and Iraq. Canada and the US played important roles, launching air strikes and arming the Iraqi forces that led the battle. But we may have had more success earlier if we had done a better job understanding ISIS. We’re always running one year behind, because we miscalculate what they’re about and what they’re going to do next. We suddenly found ourselves confronting a well-organized, hostile state-like entity that had already made serious inroads, which made for a tougher and more drawn-out fight.

Do the defeats of 2017 mean we’ve seen the end of ISIS? 

No. If we act like the problem has been taken care of because we denied them territory, that will be another mistake. Part of what makes ISIS so dangerous is that its commanders have a high degree of military skill, developed over a decade of warfare. They likely foresaw that they would lose territory and knew they could not withstand a ground assault backed by the firepower of the US-led air forces in Iraq and Syria, and the Russian air force in Syria. The leader, al-Baghdadi, is still alive. And ISIS is pushing into countries where the opposition is weaker than in Iraq and Syria and that are plagued by chaos, such as Yemen, Afghanistan and Libya.

It’s also important to distinguish between local military capability and global symbolic power. ISIS’s ability to field large numbers of organized fighters, acquire or manufacture weapons, hold territory, and engage in sustained combat is clearly diminishing. The global symbolic power of its black flag and rhetoric is not necessarily affected, however, and since some propaganda, recruitment, training and logistics require less infrastructure, its capacity to inspire—and provide material support to—affiliates around the world is likely to endure. It may even be slightly enhanced as foreign fighters return to their home countries, which could be anywhere from France and Germany to Algeria and Lebanon. Complex attacks like the ones we saw in Paris in 2015 may diminish as ISIS tries to keep a lower profile to avoid detection. Lone-wolf attacks, which by definition don’t need coordination, are likely to be less deadly but harder to predict.

What is the best strategy now?

The main challenge is the larger political and social turmoil from which such violence emerges. Recapturing the city of Mosul took a major effort on the part of the Iraqi army, but restoring functional, inclusive and legitimate governance will be a bigger problem. Sustained effort to deny ISIS safe havens from which to operate needs to be backed by a long-term effort to build stable states in those places.

In terms of terror attacks, the question now is how to deal with ISIS fighters who are returning from Iraq and Syria. Some of these individuals need help, some need to be closely watched, some could be very useful sources of intelligence—and some will be in all three categories. Governments must continue to invest in counterterrorism machinery, but it’s also essential to keep the risk of terrorism in perspective. In the US, far more people are killed and injured by non-terrorist gunfire. I like to say that if the first casualty of war is the truth, the first casualty of terrorism is perspective.

“There once was a bag they called Tim,” begins the story of a plastic bag’s journey to a composting facility.

The short stop-motion video is produced and narrated by Quest University students in Ellen Flournoy’s Rhetoric class and is meant to educate the community about what happens when plastics end up in the compost. In the video, Tim the bag’s friendships with local fruit and vegetables are short-lived: they decay, while he is doomed to spend the next 100 years alone.

Read the full article


Teaching Matters Seminar Series

Quest Mathematics Tutor, Richard Hoshino, was part of the Teaching Matters Seminar Series at Simon Fraser University. Richard’s talk on March 6 was focused on the idea: “I Wish My Final Exam Could Be…”

Richard and his co-presenter, Veselin Jungic, Department of Mathematics at SFU, imagined what their final exam would look like if there were no constraints on time and resources.

Read the full story about the Seminar Series.

Brodan Thiel ‘13 Quest Feature

Hometown: North Vancouver, BC

University: Missouri University (MEd in educational, school and counselling psychology with an emphasis in positive coaching), Simon Fraser (Bachelor of Education), Quest (BA&Sc)


Athletic Director and PE Teacher, Vancouver Christian Academy School

Cofounder, Dynamite Basketball (The creators and workforce behind Swishin’ Mission, which has put up hundreds of basketball nets in communities, parks and schools.)

Board Member, ISPARC (Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council)

Brodan on Overcoming a Setback

1. Ask yourself: What attitude am I taking?
2. Focus on knowing yourself, your purpose—how other people may be identifying you doesn’t matter
3. Lean on the people around you: your coach, your tutor, people in the community
4. Build your morals on a solid foundation, but gain knowledge from many sources
5. Remember there are no losses—everything is a win if you treat it like an opportunity

What was your Question when you were a Quest student? 

What is a role model?

What’s your Question now? 

What is a role model? If I didn’t continue to think about that question, I wouldn’t be doing what I am today. It’s what I think about all day long: how can I positively influence as many lives as possible?

In coaching, creating a nurturing, affirming environment will improve performance. If a coach is a drill sergeant it just increases anxiety. A kid’s identity can get beaten down. I want to hear about what’s going on in kids’ heads, so we can deal with it.

What advice would you give a current Quest student?

Don’t chase other people’s dreams. And get outside your comfort zone. Don’t get stuck thinking of yourself in one way. Diversify. Talk to new people every day.

How did Quest help you prepare for your life and career?

The place changed my life. When I started at Quest I didn’t think of myself as an achiever at all. It felt like I was going to battle every day with some of the top academic students from all over the world. When I left, I felt like I could do anything.

What will you be talking about at your TEDx talk on March 3?

“How Being Purposefully Minded Can Lead to a Better Life.” You know, I absolutely hated giving presentations at Quest. They were so intimidating. And now here I am giving a TEDx talk!

You were known as a monster on the boards, Brodan. What do you love about rebounding?

I’m fascinated by the grittier side of life. In music, clothing style. Rebounding is gritty. Plus, a great rebounder [like his fave, Dennis Rodman] is someone everyone wants on their team, and no one wants to play against.

Favourite quote?

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” —Friedrich Nietzsche

University: UBC (BSc), SFU (Master of Public Health & PhD in Health Sciences)

Twitter: @MsAllieCarter 

What’s your Question, Allie?

I’d say it’s How can we create enabling social conditions so women living with HIV can have the sexual life they want?

Right now, the discourse around HIV is all about fear, stigma, and how not to transmit or acquire the virus. While prevention is important, it’s not the only thing that matters.

In my PhD work, I’m trying to broaden the sexual health discourse to include more positive aspects, like sexual pleasure, love and intimate connection to help destigmatize and normalize sexuality for women with HIV.

The latest science shows that for people taking HIV medication today who are adherent and have a low viral load, the risk of transmitting it to someone through condomless sex is 0%. Zero. Or as they say: undetectable = untransmittable.

And yet pursuing and experiencing positive and rewarding aspects of sexuality remains a significant challenge for many women with HIV, owing to persistent stigma, discrimination and criminalization of the disease in society.

Enough already! We have an opportunity today, because of medicine and years of community advocacy, to view HIV as just another disease and make a positive difference in women’s sexual health and rights.

Tell me more about your Phd research.

My involvement in HIV research began in 2011, when I was a research coordinator for the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS,

During the five years I worked on the study, we hired and trained 40 women living with HIV across Canada as peer research associates to recruit and interview over 1,400 women living with HIV in British Columbia, Ontario and Québec.

It’s a longitudinal study, involving surveys at baseline and every 18 months to see how health outcomes change over time and identify both health-enhancing and health-inhibiting factors. Our goal is to inform innovative, women-centred social policy and service interventions.

Over these years of working together, it became increasingly clear that the sexual needs of women living with HIV were largely ignored in research, policy and practice. So, when I began my PhD in 2015, I set out to learn more about women’s diverse experiences with sex, love and relationships, looking at how historical, cultural and structural factors shape and constrain their intimate lives.

What classes are you teaching at Quest? 

Last fall, I taught Epidemiology, where students got to be disease detectives and design their own health study. Right now, I’m teaching Social Determinants of Health, and students are learning about the role social, cultural, economic and political factors have on health and health equity.

What advice would you give a student taking your class? 

If you’re comfortable, you’re not learning. In my classes, we tackle challenging subject matters in relation to health such as racism, gender marginalization and income inequality. While these issues can bring up strong emotions, I am a firm believer that we can’t get to a better place without talking about them. So I encourage my students to actively engage and ask hard questions of themselves and me. Their critical thinking is quite impressive, and I learn as much from them as they learn from me

Why did you choose to teach at Quest? What are the students like? 

If I can be honest, I almost didn’t apply for the position, as I didn’t think I had 100% of the qualifications. But it just so happened I was reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book at the time, called Lean In. In it, she talks about how women consistently underestimate themselves and encouraged a shift in thinking from “I’m not ready to do that” to “I want to that—and I’ll learn by doing it.” So here I am, teaching at Quest. And it has been a challenging but meaningful experience thus far. The class sizes are small, the courses are intensive and the pedagogy is strongly oriented toward interactive learning. The students in my classes come from both the basic sciences and the humanities. They bring in a rich diversity of perspectives and are engaged learners, which is great as I often have them working through problem-solving and practice-oriented assignments.

For example, in my recent class, students worked in teams of five to conduct their own empirical research on one health outcome of relevance to population/public health and three key social determinants of health (we had five teams in total, so five diverse health topics). As a class, we designed one collective online survey tool and distributed it to the entire campus community. A total of 221 student, faculty, and staff participated! In addition to critically assessing what social determinants matter for physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing of populations, the goal was to help students gain practical knowledge of the research process, from designing their own research question, through gathering and analyzing data, to disseminating their results. Next Monday, we are hosting “Quest’s Next Top Researcher,” a 5-minute research competition where they will present their findings. All Quest students, faculty and staff can attend to learn about health at Quest and to celebrate undergraduate student research.

If you had 3 words or fewer to describe your teaching style? 

Interdisciplinary, Intersectional, Inquiry-based

Samantha Leigh ‘19 Quest Feature

Hometown: Guelph, Ontario

University: Quest, ’19

Question: How do people use spaces, and what makes a space useful?

Favourite place on campus: Anywhere with a view of the mountains.

On residence life: I love the little family I have with my roommates. It’s so great to come home after a hard day of homework and eat dinner together.

Why did you choose Quest? My grandpa asked where I wanted to go to school, and I kind of flippantly replied, “Anywhere in BC.” He googled universities in BC and Quest popped up. As we read, I started tearing up. It was everything I could want from an education in one beautiful place: experiential learning, high-level academics, and a community where everyone is as passionate as I am.

So what would you say is your passion? Creating simple solutions to address more complex problems.

You’re doing a TEDx talk called “There’s No Such Thing as ‘Garbage’” on March 3. What will you be talking about? The waste management system I helped implement at Quest, based on previous research I had conducted. In early 2017,  our landfill waste contained 70% materials that could have been recycled or composted. In about 4 months with the new system, that number dropped to 29%.

People want to do what’s right: the contamination isn’t just because they’re lazy. But the system can be stressful and confusing. We need to figure out what the problems are and target them, to make it easier for people to make the right disposal choices.

You know, it was a dream of mine in grade 11-12, that I would have something important enough to share at a Ted Talk—an idea worth sharing. Being approached and asked to speak is definitely a fulfillment of this dream.

What next? Graduation! And this summer, I will complete my Keystone Project with a Quest Summer Fellowship. I’m going to conduct research assessing behavior around waste management at cafés in the District of Squamish.

Favourite quote:  “There’s so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature…yes, that’s it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love for them teaches us how ridiculous we are—vile parasites squirming on the surface of the earth—and at the same time how deserving of life we can be, when we can honor this beauty that owes us nothing.” ― Muriel BarberyThe Elegance of the Hedgehog

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

University: University of Victoria (Bachelor of Social Work), UBC (Master of Social Work)

Julie’s Top 5 Tips for Relieving Stress

  1. Be in the moment and tackle what’s in it.
  2. Self-care! (Whatever that means to you: tend the cactus garden, go for sushi, or if you’re Julie, a wee 25 km run across Black Tusk.)
  3. You know it’s coming…know what works for you. Plan ahead for stress.
  4. Find your strengths.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others. When we do, we lose track of what makes us great.

Julie’s Top 3 SOS Tips (Supporting Other Students)

  1. Advice not required. Be a good listener.
  2. Remind people of their self-care.
  3. Become a good referral service. Whether that be suggesting your friend take a yoga course or a seat in the (huge and comfy) counselling chair in Julie’s office—it’s not up to you to fix the woes of the world.

What Julie does for the Quest community: Supervises the health clinic, supervises the interns, counsels students, writes (policies and the Stall St. Journal)

What Julie does in fewer than 10 words: Makes sure health & wellness is a priority on campus

Busiest time of year for counselling services: November. Students are deep into Third Block with a long way to go before spring.

Question: How can sport impact body positivity? (Instead of, What does my body look like?, ask yourself, What am I capable of doing with my body?)

Favourite quote: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Passion: Ultras. For those uninitiated, that’s any footrace longer than a marathon. Not necessarily racing for Julie, though. Sometimes it’s just a three-day adventure into the backcountry with a pal, 50 km at a time, and seeing where they end up!

Why Quest, Julie? I love working with university-age people. They are resilient. They are open to learning new tools. They are willing to make changes. At Quest, 60% of students have seen a counsellor. I think that’s a good sign that Quest students prioritize their mental health. With everyone living on campus, we are in a type of family system. We impact each other. We learn to support each other. We find out how to contribute our strengths and value the areas we can grow.

MATH: the bigger picture

At Quest, math isn’t just about memorizing equations and numbers —  it’s about seeing the bigger picture.

Richard Hoshino, award-winning Quest Math Tutor, speaks on his Quest experience, and how mathematics relates to everyday life through communication and problem-solving skills.

Also featured is Quest student and member of the Leaders in Elite Athletics & Performance Program, Jeneva Beairsto, for her creative and valuable Keystone project. Jeneva addressed the issue of travel fare inequality by creating an optimal pricing formula that will be implemented by the Vancouver transit system.

Video created by Quest student Ben Grayzel




Anyone who’s been to the gym lately will notice that it’s busier than ever this time of year. That’s because when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, getting fit is probably one of the most common promises that people make to themselves.

The Squamish Chief featured the Quest Kermodes coaching staff and Quest Athletic Director, JF Plouffe, offering some advice on how to get fit for the New Year.

Congratulations, previous Quest student and member of the Leaders in Elite Athletics and Performance Program (LEAP), Roz Groenewoud, for qualifying for her second trip to the Olympics.

Roz will be competing in the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

For more information, visit:

Quest student and mountain biker on the LEAP team (Leaders in Elite Athletics and Performance Program) Jacob Tooke is a new member of the 2018 Blueprint Canadian Enduro Development team. This is a joint project between the Canadian National Enduro Series and Coach Joel Harwood (Blueprint Athlete Development).

This unique partnership allows athletes many opportunities to contribute to their long-term development as an athlete, and to ensure that these bright young stars become active members of the cycling community. 

For more information about the LEAP Program at Quest University Canada

Follow LEAP on Instagram:

Richard Hoshino’s Adrien Pouliot Award

Accepting his award, Richard Hoshino presented four of his favourite math problems, and shared stories of how they lead to authentic mathematical experiences for both high school students and undergraduates. He presented four key problem-solving strategies that enable mahematicians and educators to impact others’ lives.

Read the story here.

Miguel Chiau is a Mastercard Foundation Scholar in the Program at African Leadership Academy (ALA), pursuing his studies at Quest University Canada. He spoke at the Walrus Talks in Ottawa in September 2017.

Quest Kermodes varsity student-athlete Shakayla Thomas was featured in the Hashilthsa Ntc newspaper. She made the leap from a remote First Nations community to full-time attendance at Quest University Canada and her basketball skills were all part of the package.

Quest Women’s Basketball volunteered again at the 2017 Annual Herring Sale for Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer at the docks in Richmond. The founding principle is that 100% of the money raised must be spent on kids who are being treated for cancer at BC Children’s Hospital. For more information about the event or how to volunteer for next time, please visit: