Beverley Diamond

“Re” Thinking: Revitalization, Return, and Reconciliation in Contemporary Indigenous Expressive Culture.

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Michaëlle Jean and Jean-Daniel Lafond

TO THE ARTS, CITIZENS! : Social Mediation through the Arts

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Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah

Society Matters: why should we value the Humanities?

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James Bartleman

Residential Schools: Have we forgotten our responsibility?

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Weaver, Johnson and Chuenpagdee

How Do We Build Resilient Communities in the Face of Climate Change?

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Gérard Bouchard and Graham Fraser

Pluralist Societies: what's their future?

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David Adams Richards

Threatened Identity: what do we lose when we lose the sense of place?

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Chief Shawn Atleo

First Nations Education: Can we afford to miss out?

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Antonine Maillet

Giving voice: Who speaks for the forgotten?

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Andrew Weaver, climatologist

How can Canadians keep their cool in a warming world?

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climate change panel

Europe wants to attract canadian scholars


The European Union seeks to develop collaboration with overseas scholars, among which Canadians. In partnership with the three funding bodies and various departments and agencies, an organization, ERA-Can, has been created with the purpose of making the funding opportunities better known. Era –Can was at Congress 2011 to meet with Canadian Sociological association (on June 1st) and with the Canadian association for the studies of Cooperation, on June 2nd.

ERA-Can’s purpose is to bring help and information to Canadian scholars who would like to work with Europe by setting up meetings and doing presentations on the 7th Framework Program (7FP), the EU research funding program.

Many Canadians are already involved and benefit from that funding.
To get more information please look at the  CSA presentation and the CACS presentation.

Also, here you can have a look at the 7FP portal, on the European commission website.

Congress 2011 in pictures

UNB/STU Campus

With 5 000 delegates on a campus for a week, there are plenty of great Kodack moments

We have a few photos shot at Congress 2011 here for your viewing pleasure.

Photos are made available thanks to UNB Media Services and Jared Morrison.

Big Thinking lectures at Congress 2011


Here are videos of the Big Thinking lectures series. The videos are in the language of presentations.

Chief Wilton Littlechild
Truth and Recnciliation: What does the future hold?

Antonine Maillet
Giving Voice: Who speaks for the forgotten?

David Adams Richards
Threatened Identity: What do we lose when we lose the sense of place?

Chief Shawn Atleo
First Nations Education: Can we afford to miss out?

Panel: Weaver, Johnson, Chuenpagdee, Mauro
How Do We Build Resilient Communities in the Face of Climate Change?

James Bartleman
Residential Schools: Have we forgotten our responsibility?

Gérard Bouchard, Graham Fraser
Pluralist Societies: What’s their future?

(Français) Les défis de l’immigration au Nouveau-Brunswick


Sorry, this entry is only available in Français.

Lady Gaga Projecting Positive Values


There’s no doubt American pop singer Lady Gaga is a powerful cultural phenomenon just now. She’s won Grammy Awards for her music, been photographed for the cover of Vanity Fair, and wowed the public with powerful videos and an over-the-top sense of style.

Along the way, she’s attracted a wide following among teens, gays – and academics.

It’s Lady Gaga’s pull as a cultural icon that led Zorianna Zurba, a first-year PhD student in communications and cultural studies at Ryerson and York universities, to take a closer look at one of her most successful hits, the song and video ‘Telephone’.

Zurba explained, at the 2011 Congress of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of New Brunswick, how “Telephone” speaks to values of the young people who are Lady Gaga’s core fans.

And those values, she says, include love and acceptance.

There’s a recent history of strong female pop stars attracting attention by a combination of creativity, talent, and pushing the boundaries of dress. Cher, with her outré Bob Mackie gowns, was a hit in the 1980s and a few years later Madonna’s cone bra became an iconic image.

Zurba says Lady Gaga – a 25-year-old American born Stefani Germanotta – follows in that tradition.

But her music and style are contemporary, speaking to her audience about modern technologies and values.

In “Telephone,” Lady Gaga shows how ubiquitous the cellphone has become for people of a certain generation. Zurba says it’s now assumed the person we’re calling will always be available. In “Telephone,” Lady Gaga sings of how she takes unwanted calls even if she’s in a nightclub.

(“My question to Gaga is, ‘Why don’t you just turn it off?’” Zurba quips.)

The song also shows that text messages and phone calls have different rankings.

If someone wants to put out a covert and serious message, they will use text. But if they want to be more open, they’ll call.

Zurba says Lady Gaga is also speaking strongly to the idea of accepting yourself as who you are.

“The younger audience is picking up on those messages,” she says. “For example, that you don’t have to look perfect and be a representative of the mainstream culture. Success does come in different packages.

“Lady Gaga is ushering in a post-modernist perspective,” she adds. “What’s fantastic about what she’s doing is that it gives us a multiple perspective on the world.”

Photo courtesy of  FV/RAVENSYMONECPEARMAN on Flickr

War as a Disease

Dr. Dale Dewar speaks to the Canadain Peace Research Association (Photo: Matthew Sheriko)

Matthew Sheriko, Experience Congress 2011

If there’s only one constant in human history, you could argue it’s the occurrence of war.  Dale Dewar says it’s time for that trend to end.

A rural family doctor from Saskatchewan, she presented her thesis to the Canadian Peace Research Association on a unique topic.

Dewar used a medical model to explain  the phenomenon of war and how that approach could be used to abolish it. She identified war and global conflict as mankind’s disease or addiction, saying that war and disease can similarly be eradicated.

“When we name a behaviour as an illness it becomes less likely that engaging in it will be considered appropriate,” said Dewar.  “Either we cure the disease, or ultimately, the disease will kill us.”

Dewar passionately advocates for demilitarization and the rechanelling of funds spent on the military to other programmes.

Drawing comparisons to spousal abuse, bullying, and slavery, she said, “In my mind, prevention of war is the only road into the future.  I believe that when enough people say violence is unacceptable as a method of discourse, it will become unacceptable.”

Programs that study these types of phenomena, such as peace studies and conflict studies, are being developed in universities across Canada.  “If these studies aren’t in your university, then ask, ‘why not?  We changed the face of women’s studies this way 25 years ago.”

“We need to wean ourselves off of violence.  This means off our own propensity to watch violent movies, violent TV shows, and games.  Adrenaline junkies, find other sources for our adrenaline.  And needless to say, wean your kids off it as well.”

She says persistence is what will make it happen, relating  it to rehabilitation from an injury — the key to getting better and the key to ending war.

Citing a study that said conflicts are more likely to be resolved at the negotiating table when the gender ratio is closer to even, Dewar suggests that having more women in positions of power might help diffuse the tendency for violent conflict.

Photo by Matthew Sheriko.

Contribution From Communities Key in Reducing Poverty

James Hughes - Deputy Minister of Social Development (NB)

Matthew Sheriko, Congress 2011 Team

New Brunswick is on track with its Poverty Reduction Plan says Deputy Minister of Social Development, James Hughes.

He spoke before the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research.  The audience comprised mostly of people from outside New Brunswick.

He explained the development process and the plan itself saying that, “Fighting poverty is what we do in our department, at its very core.”

“New Brunswick started out by saying, ‘we cannot do it alone’.  Government is not able, nor has it ever been able, to reduce poverty by itself.  We have to do it together with the other sectors.  In particular with the community sector,’” said Hughes.  “The first principle of the New Brunswick Poverty Reduction Process is that ‘we are all in this together’.’”

New Brunswick’s initiative is one of six underway among the 10 provinces.  Hughes says each province is in tune with what methods are used in the others.

Hughes highlighted the shared involvement from individual communities throughout the province as well as the provincial government in the development of the plan.

“Right there in the governance section of the plan, there’s a commitment that, at the local level, the poverty reduction plan will take place itself,” he said.  “Community put up its hand and said ‘we want poverty reduction in this province to not be managed and led from Fredericton.  We want it from where we are, because we know our neighbours, we know the people using the food bank.  We can help.  We want to be part of this’.”

He emphasized the importance of locally based initiatives to fight poverty rather than simple consultation with community leaders.

“We can’t just involve community on an as needed basis, or as wanted basis,” said Hughes in reference to the consensus in the final stage of development.  “We have to organize ourselves to make sure that it incurs an equally and equitably right across the province in terms of a community role.  And the law foresees that very thing.”

The plan, brought into law in April of 2010 by the previous government, originally set the goal of reducing poverty by 25 per cent over five years.

He explained how each of the 12 designated regions of the province have individual localized needs that is reflected in the plan.  “A provincial framework with a local action.”

“Nearly 14% of New Brunswickers live in poverty.  100,000 New Brunswickers live below the low-income cut off.”

Photo: Matthew Sheriko

Opposing Viewpoints on Canadian Anti-Terrorism Law

Vanessa Iafolla

Matthew Sheriko, Experience Congress 2011

Many feared Canada would begin fighting terrorism at the expense of human rights when anti-terrorism legislation was introduced.

That was the subject of Vanessa Iafolla’s presentation to the Canadian Sociological Association. Mrs. Iafolla is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Centre of Criminology and Sociolegal Studies.

“The political agenda to augment national security was bolstered by media reports regarding potential threats posed from terrorist cells within Canada, as well as reports indicating the willingness of the Canadian public to preserve national security even at the cost of its civil liberties,” Iafolla said.

She highlighted the reaction to the legislation of different ethnic and religious groups within Canada.  She spoke of their fears that the Anti-Terrorism Act would target and limit their civil liberties.

She shows that groups of Muslim-Canadians felt the law went too far to infringe on rights, while a group of Jewish-Canadians felt it didn’t go far enough to protect citizens from attack.

She focused on this contrast throughout her presentation stating that both groups sought ways to protect all Canadians from terrorism but had opposing views of how to achieve it.

She argued that civil liberties and freedoms are in the fabric of Canadian identity.

The representatives she studied emphasized their status as Muslim-Canadians and values they hold for their country where they don’t want to singled out and lumped in with extremists.

“The speed with which Bill C-36 [The Anti-Terrorism Act] became law was not merely due to pressure from the US government, as much of the resulting legislation was enacted in response to concern from Canadian society,” she said.

Photo: Matthew Sheriko

The Conservative Party’s War on Women


Sarah Bernstein, Experience Congress 2011

University of Regina’s Jill Arkles spoke Tuesday, May 31st, on what she sees as the erosion of gender-based citizenship under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives since they first won a minority government in 2006.

She describes the neo-Conservatives as being supported in large part by a new “Christian Nationalist movement,” pockets of fundamentalist Christians who would see the church institutionalized within the state, able to affect public policy. She notes that, after all, Harper himself considers “faith, family, and freedom” to be the “three pillars” of the Conservative party.

Women, Arkles said, have seen their rights incrementally and substantially eroded through CPC policy, legislation, and inaction. She cites, among other things, a willful lack of action to end racialized and sexualized violence against indigenous women. Arkles also points to the defunding of organizations responsible for research and advocacy, such as Status of Women Canada as measures that effectively silence women’s voices.

Such measures are sometimes implemented by stealth, under the guise of promoting equality. Harper’s plan for childcare support, for instance, restricted single mothers from full-time work by cutting a $5-million day care plan in favour of monthly $100 stipends for families with children under the age of six. Arkles sees this, together with new bonus stipends for two-parent families, as incentivizing the nuclear family. More recently, in the 2011 election, the CPC’s platform emphasized “family values” and income-splitting, more signs that the nuclear family is being. Arkles sees this as revealing the CPC’s direct ideological link to the Christian Nationalist movement.

On the subject of women’s reproductive rights, Arkles has a lot to say. She feels that, though Harper himself has said he will not reopen the debate, with a majority, far-right members will be able to push through anti-choice bills like the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, ostensibly tabled to end violence against pregnant women. In fact, the Act, tabled by Conservative Ken Epp, would not have protected the mother, only the fetus, by granting it ‘personhood,’ a move that would have led to recriminalizing abortion.

For Arkles, these measure amount, in totality, to a war on women. “Without access to funding for research and advocacy, and without the long-form census, women’s rights are in jeopardy,” she says. “These issues have become really personal for me, and I have a lot of fear going forward. That said, this election has marked a sea change in Canadian politics; women have a record number of seats.”

Arkles suggests that it’s important to use that progressive momentum to build social movements around justice issues – like gender-based citizenship rights – and challenge and hold our government accountable.

Photo courtesy of S.L.M. on Flickr

Lisa Nakamura on Race, Labor, and Indigeneity

Photo by Jared Morrison

Jared Morrison, Experience Congress 2011

In a preview of her presentation Race, Labour, and Indigeneity: The Birth of the New Media in the American West, Dr. Lisa Nakamura explains that while the Hippies were copying the Indians in the ‘70s, the Indians were building computers:

“I don’t think people think of Native Americans as working in the electronics industry,” says Nakamura, “because the history of this is not very well known.”

“Hippies fetishized technology as a tool for independence from mass culture; they wanted to build their own buildings, make their own clothes. So Hippies quickly became obsessed with Indians, imitating Indian culture as a centrally holistic counterculture – the Indians were already opposed to mass broadcasting, mass production of food, mass anything. But of course the Hippies didn’t include any actual Indians in their movement.

“All of a sudden there are these Hippie communes springing up in the American midwest, escaping traditional American capital, all of them based on Native American culture with absolutely no Indians involved – because the Indians were struggling to survive on their own Reservations.

“Meanwhile Indians were being used as workers in electronics factories opening on those Reservations, taking advantage of low labour costs, taking advantage of subsidies from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This resulted from the strong presence of Labor unions in the U.S. in the ‘70s, as Industry began looking to outsource. The thinking was that the Indians could be weaned off of government social assistance.

“The electronics factories were coming in and saying, ‘If we can’t get these dumb unions to cooperate and work for less money, we’ll find someone who will. And the Indians will.’ So American Indians were used as workers on these reservations because they couldn’t leave; they couldn’t go to another factory for a better rate, they couldn’t unionize, even during a time when American Industry was terrified of unions. In fact, this marked the beginning of the end for unions because of outsourcing to off-shore labour.

“Eventually the militant Indians kicked the factories out, but one has to wonder, could there have been a Silicon Valley in New Mexico? We don’t know what might have happened had those industries stayed in the U.S., rather than being outsourced to Japan. America undoubtedly lost an opportunity for self-sufficiency there.”

Dr. Lisa Nakamura is Director of the Asian American Studies Program, Professor in the Institute of Communication Research and Media Studies Program, Professor of Asian American Studies, and Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Photo by Jared Morrison.


Lady Gaga Projecting Positive Values

Zorianna Zurba explains how Telephone speaks to the values of the young people who are Lady Gaga’s core fans.

learn more >
Dr. Dale Dewar speaks to the Canadain Peace Research Association (Photo: Matthew Sheriko)

War as a Disease

If there’s only one constant in human history, it’s the occurrence of war.

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Mothers, Teachers, and Ambassadors

Pinar Kocak explores why some Alberta mothers are compelled to homeschool their ADHD children.

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Launch of Accord on Research in Education

Putting the Evidence Back into Evidence-Based Policy Making for Underachieving Students.

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Phot by Jared Morrison

Taking Leave of Your Census

Dr. Monica Boyd explains why a voluntary Long form census will be damaging to Canada

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