Arkyn Kornell and Shion Hyde, second-level PR students, work on the zine in the Student Commons E-Building on Feb. 8. Photo credit: Noah Leafloor

Algonquin College’s public relations program is close to publishing the Beyond the Barriers zine, which focuses on student and faculty perspectives of the pandemic through personal stories.

Beyond the Barriers is a digital and print fundraising event. The digital zine, which readers can access for a low cost, is on the PR website and will have a link to a charity. There will also be links on their ACPR Instagram. A limited number of print copies are being sold on the ACPR campaign website.

According to the campaign website, limited physical copies will be available at certain campaign events. There will be the option to pre-order a physical copy of the zine, which will be available following the closing deadline, the website says.

The digital zine will be published on March 21 alongside the overall campaign launch event, which is called “Conquering the Current.”

The charity the PR program is working with is an organization called Upstream Ottawa. Upstream specializes in high-quality, client-centred, community-based mental health services. The organization loves fundraising events because fundraisers keep their services and programs running for the community.

Arkyn Kornell, a second-level student in the PR program, came up with the zine idea. Kornell has worked on zines before and presented the Beyond the Barriers idea with passion.

“To me, it’s all about self-reflection,” said Kornell. “This was a time of global change, and we captured the emotions it brought with it through powerful mediums.”

The goal of the zine is to provide personal stories, and with that, create connections between the readers and the contributors.

“The main thing is we are not alone in this. There were a lot of barriers, such as mental health and no physical contact. And that is represented by the cover of the zine. The theatre masks represent the emotional barriers, while the COVID masks are the physical,” said Kornell.

The Beyond the Barriers cover which symbolizes the physical and emotional barriers felt during and after the pandemic.
The Beyond the Barriers cover which symbolizes the physical and emotional barriers felt during and after the pandemic. Photo credit: Arkyn Kornell

Thanks to the PR professors and connections, the zine received a healthy variety of submissions from diverse programs.

“We have people from eight different programs that applied,” said Kornell. “This just provides student-wide reach and have contributors from around the school to show their stories.”

One of the PR students will be showcasing their pandemic experience in the zine.

“I think it’s a nice way to bring people back together to show how we emerged from it,” said Shion Hyde, the second-level student in the PR program who will have their own piece in it.

The program coordinator who supervises the charity and teaches the PR students is excited.

“I’m a big believer in this,” said Lara Mills, the PR program coordinator. “It’s a coming together moment. It’s an artifact.”

When asked about future events and charity, she said: “I’d like people to buy it so we can donate to the campaign. Upstream provides hands-on support, and they innovate which helps students and the community.”

The PR program also created a Discord chat where the contributors can get a sense of community with each other instead of feeling isolated.

“It creates some unity. It’s not like, oh, I created this project and the whole point of this is to say we’re not alone. So, we want to make sure they have access to talking to each other about their experiences,” said Kornell.

The zine will have full-page features for each artist to show off the talent of diverse backgrounds. The features will allow family and community to feel represented.

“For example, if it was a recipe, it’s going to have the recipe, what it means to the person and the program with credit,” said Kornell. “All the contributors are getting their time and effort for free. It was getting a volunteer base.”

Going along with the main message, the PR program hopes people will support the zine by coming to events and taking time to reflect on what happened these past couple of years.