Canadian Eh-xemplar Highlights Wave 11: Wonder Women

Welcome back to Canadian Eh-xemplar highlights! This wave, we’re focusing on the women who make our community great.

In Canada, we’re lucky to have some truly outstanding women judging our tournaments. I reached out to some of our most exemplary judges from this wave to ask them about how the Magic community has welcomed them, how they’ve used their talents to build inclusivity in their spaces, and where they see room to grow to make Magic a better, safer place for all to enjoy:

First up, Kaitlin McLachlan, an impressive L1 (though I’m betting not L1 for much longer!) from Whitby, Ontario.

Kaitlin McLachlan

Kaitlin McLachlan

Level: 1
Location: Whitby, Ontario
Certification Date: June 10th, 2017
Favourite Card: Guttersnipe!

What do diversity and inclusion in Canadian Magic mean to you?
Diversity and inclusion is what will make this game better than it already is, bringing in more people because they feel welcome and safe. Magic is an incredible game and all of us that play deserve to feel like we belong. As a female judge in this program, I’ve had a lot of uncomfortable or outright unacceptable interactions, so doing our best to discourage those negative behaviours and educate the individuals will ultimately lead to the diversity and inclusion that this community needs to grow and thrive.

What would you like to see Canadian Judges (yourself included) accomplish in 2018 to make Magic a better place to play?
I’d love to see judges working with their community members and TOs to see what else they can do to be inclusive. Speaking out at a variety of levels, from FNM to conferences to Grand Prix against hurtful language and behaviours, integrating a comment about inclusion into Head Judge announcements, talking to TOs about current practices and how they can be improved, and encouraging players to inform a judge when they see or hear things that make them uncomfortable are just a few steps we can take starting today.

If we continue to connect, discuss and work towards this common goal we can ensure a positive and welcoming space for any player, no matter who they are. For myself, I really hope to reach Level 2 in early 2018; female representation in our community is severely lacking, both as players and as judges, so hopefully I’ll be able to be a little more visible and encourage more women to get involved. I’m also hoping to connect with more individuals and hear their struggles and what they’re doing to overcome them.

Kaitlin wowed Canadian RCs past and present this year with her energy and excitement in the face of new challenges, and her resolve in the face of adversity. Using those skills and her big personality, Kaitlin made waves across Ontario and the Great Lakes (US) Region this year. I’m looking forward to what Kaitlin will accomplish in 2018 as she takes on GPs and SCG tournaments all across the continent.

Megan Linscott L2, USA – Northeast

Megan Linscott L2, USA – Northeast

Kaitlin, I had been hearing your name way before we worked together at Canadian Nationals, and now I know why. Over the course of the weekend, I mentioned to you that I’m trying to improve on my rules knowledge. You made it your personal mission, as a strong rules person, to help me with it all weekend, offering me questions, advice, and support on calls, all without ever making me feel patronized. Immediately following the event, you published a review for me with solid, actionable feedback about what I did well and how I could improve, including taking a genuine look at how I could better *project* confidence on the floor, a weakness I’ve been struggling to identify and improve on for some time now. You’ve also been more than happy to continue both of these conversations online, and I can’t tell you how helpful it’s been. Thank you so much for your mentorship.

So, why are we highlighting this exemplar?
Specificity: Megan outlines three key interactions with Kaitlin, and the ways in which Kaitlin used those conversations to help Megan work on her goals throughout the event.

Relevance: Kaitlin talked in her interview about the importance of women mentors in the program, and I know that Megan has made a huge impact on Kaitlin’s growth so far. Here, we see that their relationship has been fruitful for both  judges; this time, Kaitlin stepped up and provided a seasoned judge with some key insights from a fresh perspective.

Praiseworthiness: It’s been said a number of times in a short space here in this article–and in Kaitlin’s other exemplar recognitions–but Kaitlin brings it, every time, and, as Jon Goud writes “[she has] both the soft and hard skills I look for in judges of a much higher level ;).” Kaitlin shows here that she listened to the needs of her fellow judge and displayed exemplary leadership by making Megan’s goals for the event her own.

Great job, Kaitlin.

Tobias Vyseri, L2 from BC, was nominated by her peers for her mentorship of L1s at a recent open, for her support of local stores, and for taking initiative in unfamiliar territory.

Tobias Vyseri

Tobias Vyseri

Level: 2
Location: BC, Canada
Certification Date: February 7th 2014
Favourite Card: Delver of Secrets
Interesting Fact: I draw things

What do diversity and inclusion in Canadian Magic mean to you?
It means people constantly asking me to be their diversity mascot! Haha!
But actually, I think it’s overall a healthy thing for Magic in general (not just ‘Canadian Magic’). I think the subtle inclusion of under-represented groups in artwork is neat, and a really unobtrusive way to promote this ideology. Plus, [diversity efforts are] giving rise to some really cool character designs, like Arlinn Kord, Saheeli Rai and Daretti, Scrap Savant.

What would you like to see Canadian Judges (yourself included) accomplish in 2018 to make Magic a better place to play?
I think in 2018 one thing I am going to work on is being a better player. I think a lot of people forget that we never really stop being judges; even if we’re just participating in a tournament, our behavior should remain as professional and cordial as if we were working. Once the players in the community see you judge a few times you can never really take off the uniform, and that means ensuring you are pleasant when you are winning, and especially when you are losing.

In Phoenix, Tobi dazzled judges on the EOR team as an incredibly helpful and motivated floor judge, who took on the challenge of interacting with Purple Fox for the first time. Likewise, in her hometown, Tobi has made quite a name for herself because of that same dedication. Tobi has worked hard as an L2 to provide coverage and support for a number of stores, and has recently helped a video gaming store join the PPTQ circuit. Her charisma and hard work now regularly bring in 30+ players for those events.

At a recent F2F Open, Tobi caught the attention of her head judge, David Poon, as well as other judges on staff:

David Poon L2, Canada

David Poon L2, Canada

I had the pleasure of working with Tobias at the F2F Vancouver Open in September, and she did not disappoint. She arrived having read her marching orders and proceeded to take care of everything I’d asked for without needing any more words on my part—completely self-sufficient, able, and thorough. But her completion of those tasks wasn’t what I considered exemplary; rather, it was what she did outside of what was required of her for the event. As one of our L1s from the event, Jovy Eramela, told me:

“Tobi took great initiative in mentoring and welcoming new judges to the fold of judging at Competitive REL events. During tournament preparations in the morning of the event, she took the time to sit down with me and another Level 1 Judge working at our first Competitive REL event, and went over common IPG penalties and remedies, as well as reassuring us that things were not going to explode if we didn’t know how to approach a judge call. Tobi’s message of support let us know that the other judges at the event were here to back us up if we needed help, and that eased away some of the fear of failure that was present in my mind at the time.”

What makes this exemplar great?
Specificity: This exemplar brings in testimony from other judges on staff, a testament to the far-reaching impact that Tobias’ efforts had at this event. Likewise, it describes not only her actions as an extremely well-prepared floor judge, b her impressive mentorship activities. The judge(s) quoted by this exemplar also discuss the positive impacts on the event, and on other judges working the event.

Relevance: This month, we’re focused on raising the profiles of incredible women in our community, and Tobi has demonstrated here some high profile, high value work. Indeed, David could have easily written only about her comprehensive and focused approach to judging the event, but Tobi’s ability to take the tasks assigned to her and likewise provide some hands on mentorship of judges newer to the program is what makes this nomination so special.

While David suggests that Tobi was impeccable as a floor judge at his Open, what is most impressive about this nomination is that Tobi effectively outshines herself–her attentiveness to, and support for, the other judges on staff was awesome and made such an impact that her already exemplary work judging the tournament seemed average by comparison.

Nice work, Tobi.

Last, meet Flora Li, an L1 from Toronto, Ontario, who found her passion for the judge program through competitive tournament grinding.

Flora Li

Flora Li

Level: 1
Location: Toronto, ON
Certification Date: November 12, 2016
Favourite Card: Scuttling Doom Engine
Interesting Fact: I have several well-hidden tattoos, including one of a lotus that happens to be black.

What do diversity and inclusion in Canadian Magic mean to you?
Funnily enough, if not for the lack of diversity and inclusion in Magic, I might not have become a judge in the first place.

I learned how to play Magic back in the M15 days, and started grinding competitive events a few months after that. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that my peers didn’t really have the same respect for me that my kitchen table playmates did. Everything I did was suddenly called into question simply because of my gender. When playing in the X-0 bracket, spectators would ask my opponent if they got paired down. During game 2 of a match, people would automatically assume that my opponent was up a game. Opponents would try to convince me of rules regarding game play that were blatantly incorrect.

Honestly, looking back, the vindictive part of me just wanted to shut them all up and shove in their face that I knew better than them. It wasn’t the best reason to becoming a judge. But over the last year as an L1, I’ve met amazing, supportive people and seen how fulfilling the program can be. I was able to satisfy the curious part of me that loves to acquire knowledge. These are the reasons to judge, and my hope is that one day, no one will feel the need to get their certification for the same reasons that I had.

What would you like to see Canadian Judges (yourself included) accomplish in 2018 to make Magic a better place to play?The judges in Canada are much more geographically spread out than judges in many other countries, so it can be hard finding resources, or even just plain old help, when we’re all so far apart. It’s easy to get comfortable with the judges you know in your own city or region, but it also makes it very easy to get isolated into little pockets based on the cities we live in. I’d love to see each judge reach out to regions other than their own, and make connections and foster relationships the next city or even province over. If we all act as a connected network, we can become better resources for our players.

Flora was recognized for her profound ability to play to her strengths–and for the rapid development of those strengths. At Nationals, she worked with Megan Linscott (featured above) and with me, and impressed both of us for her ability to tackle new challenges and her confidence in stepping up when the team needed her.

Michael Gyssels L2, Canada

Michael Gyssels L2, Canada


Great work at Nats. You were a real go-getter as a member of my team and always seemed to be where I needed you to be, even before I asked.
I was especially impressed with the way you handled being EOR lead. When I had a major issue pop up and no one to take the clipboard, you were there and you were ready to work. While that round was nearly over when I made the hand-off, I found you on the clipboard to handle EOR the very next round–exemplary L1 leadership skills and ambition indeed.

Thanks, once again, Flora, for your hard work.

In writing this exemplar I tried to focus on the following:

Specificity: Flora jumped at the chance to lead EOR, which was a boon to my success as I dealt with some difficult judge calls and other HJ duties.

Relevance: Flora is a stellar judge and a credit to all the great work that women do in this program. I have been consistently impressed with her rules expertise, leadership qualities, and overall amazing work on the floor of events since her certification late last year.

Praiseworthiness: Flora was on a team of incredibly experienced judges, but it didn’t at all phase her. When opportunities presented themselves, like leading EOR, Flora carried that torch where she could have easily deferred and no one would have thought twice. That initiative and drive makes awesome judges and awesome mentors, and I look forward to seeing what Flora achieves as a member of the Canadian Judge family.

Last, some shoutouts to the programs, projects, and supports in Magic that work tirelessly to ensure that our stores and tournaments are inclusive and welcoming, as well as those folks that produce content aimed at breaking down barriers to equality in Magic.

The Lady Planeswalkers Society – “The Lady Planeswalkers Society is dedicated to providing a harassment-free space and experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age, religion, or skill level. We do not tolerate harassment in any form.”

The Collected Company Mentorship Project – “The mission of the Collected Company project is to empower women to take on new challenges and realize their full potential within the judge program. We believe that it can be meaningful to have a mentor with shared life experiences, and we want to give more women access to that. In a situation where women are significantly in the minority, a female judge or judge candidate may not have the opportunity to work with other women early in her career. We’re creating more opportunities to connect rising women with established leaders, and to give women a space for discourse. Through this, we aim to encourage women to certify and increase diversity within the program.”

Play it Forward – “We seek to promote and cultivate women playing Magic: the Gathering at a competitive level by raising awareness of, and providing aid to, the hundreds of pro-candidate women already out there. Also by motivating additional women to join their ranks. To achieve these goals we are working with partners to sponsor additional prizes that women can compete for in high level play such as playmats, mentorships, coverage, and assorted swag. This will hopefully increase turnout, raise awareness, and also allow us to build a community by networking Magic’s leading ladies with each other. As well as allow us to compile and study statistics about women’s performance on the Grand Prix circuit.”

Planeswalkers For Diversity – “Planeswalkers for Diversity consists of gamers who are passionate about Magic: The Gathering being played in an atmosphere that is welcoming, inclusive, and accessible to everyone regardless of their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, race, religion, ability, or anything else that has nothing to do with the game.”

Now, more than ever, we need each other. Support one another, be kind, and look for the good in your peers and your players.

Until next time!

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