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

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.

Mothers, Teachers, and Ambassadors


Jacqueline LeBlanc Cormier, Experience Congress 2011

Parenting a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has its share of challenges. But Pinar Kocak knows first-hand that these parenting challenges extend beyond the home and enter the classroom.

The University of Lethbridge graduate student recently conducted research on Alberta mothers who chose to home school their ADHD child. The topic is close to home for Kocak who home schools her 16-year-old ADHD son.

The purpose of the study was to talk to mothers who have considered, who are currently, or who once home schooled their ADHD child and explore the reasons that compelled them to do so.

“(In a communal school), rules and regulations are all there to lead you to a successful school year,” she says. “In such an environment, students are taught and expected to display certain behaviours, but some children are unable to do so. Those children who are unable to sustain attention, sit still, wait for their turn, work quietly, listen, comply with their teachers’ instructions, follow through with assignments, and concentrate on the task at hand are all identified as having ADHD.”

In Alberta, ADHD students are excluded from special education coding and funding. This means the child will not be guaranteed a one-on-one aid, classroom support or modifications, leaving the parents with limited options.

The school will often recommend the child turns to medication. When the medication works, she says, the results are almost immediate. But, medication doesn’t always work, or it sometimes comes with nasty side effects.

“The mother is often caught between pressures from school to medicate her child, her own views on medicating her child and her child’s resistance or will to be medicated,” she explains.

The mothers Kocak interviewed are ambassadors for their children and their needs.  They are vocal about social pressures to medicate their children.  They push for modifications in the classroom to help their child’s unique needs; and they educate themselves and others about ADHD.

“They look for information on how to help their children,” she says. “They look for other options such as schools specializing in special needs, private schools, tutors, etc. But these are not always available. They’re not always affordable and they’re not always desirable to the parents.”

That’s when a lot of parents turn to homeschooling.

“These particular mothers felt compelled to home school their children, and most felt it was the best available option to both explore and provide their children with what they needed when they needed it.”

Photo Courtesy of Chiot’s Run’s

Launch of Accord on Research in Education


Sarah Bernstein, Experience Congress 2011

The Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) launched the Accord on Research in Education on Tuesday, May 31 with a keynote address by Canada Research Chair James Cummins.

The Accord emerges from a shared commitment by ACDE, a network of deans, directors, and chairs of education faculties nationwide, to contribute to and expand on discourses on the importance of public education’s accountability within and outside of the Academy.

Brent Herbert-Copley, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Center (SSHRC)Vice-President of Grants and Fellowships, addressed SSHRC’s shared perspective with the Accord: “Educational research is also a central element of what SSHRC does,” he said. “We support hundreds of MA, PhD, and Post-Doctoral researchers each year.”

In reshaping what he called SSHRC’s “new ergonomy of programmes,” the council struggled with how best to articulate these new programmes. “The Accord expresses it well. The document is an example of something that speaks to a broader community – that has a focus on diversity, multiple forms of knowing.”

James Cummins spoke on the goal of the document and the three main areas of difficulty. The first difficulty is around ensuring that a constructively challenging, rather than adversarial, dialogue takes place across paradigms, academic disciplines, and educational constituencies. Second, Cummins stressed the importance of creating dialogic structures to challenge implicit assumptions that often are embedded in research programmes. Last, Cummins articulated the importance of examining and recognizing research regarding power relations and its impact on achievement. “There has been clear evidence,” he said, “regarding the impact of societal power relations, in schools and in society in general, on student achievement.” This research, he pointed out, has often been overlooked.

In his concluding remarks, ACDE President Ted Riecken said, “The idea is to improve education in and out of schools and across the lifespan. To confront [and utilize] ‘difficult knowledge’ Educational institutions can sometimes silence and marginalize some people and raise others. We need to be mindful of that.”

Taking Leave of Your Census

Phot by Jared Morrison

Jared Morrison, Experience Congress 2011

At the 2011 Nels Anderson Lecture, Dr. Monica Boyd, Canada Research Chair on Immigration, spoke on the impact of eliminating the mandatory Long-form census in 2010, warning that it will be damaging to Canada. This is what she had to say.

How the census worked

The 2A or “Short” form census is used most importantly by the Federal Government to determine how to allocate funding – distribution of equalization payments, Harmonized Sales Tax, etc.– and is distributed to 4/5 of Canadian households.

The 2B or “Long” form census is used for additional demographic information, including information on Aboriginals and immigrants, to determine where services will best be allocated at a local level. It enables evidence-based planning and policy making, and is distributed to only 1/5 of Canadian households.

Extensive planning is required for the census, and finalized documents are reviewed by Cabinet ministers 18 months before the fielding date. Rare modifications to the census at this stage would only go as far as clarifying the nature of certain questions. The approved census forms are then published first in the Canada Gazette, the official news medium.

2011 would have marked Canada’s 15th mandatory census under the requirements of the Constitution Act in 1867.

What happened

Although Canadian law prohibits reporting on specific happenings within the Cabinet, it is known that the decision to eliminate the mandatory Long-form census was reached sometime in December 2009 by Conservative Cabinet members without any external consultation.

Legally, the Cabinet does have the right to decide not to conduct the census, but debate on the subject typically surrounds the nature of the questions on the census, not the validity of the census itself. In 2010, however, the actual method of collecting information was called into question and altered without consulting the public – an unprecedented move for any government around the world.

Statistics Canada began to learn of the decision to eliminate the mandatory Long-form census in late-April / early-May 2010.

The forms for the 15th census were first officially published in the Canada Gazette on 26 June 2010, during the Toronto G8/G20 summits. The Gazette featured the usual Short-form census document, but the Long-form included only the section on agriculture – a massive red flag that was completely missed by the media because of the G8/G20 summits in Toronto.

On 21 July 2010, Minister of Industry Tony Clement issued this statement:

“We do not believe that Canadians should be forced under threat of fines, jail, or both, to disclose extensive private and personal information.”

The first public announcement came perfectly timed on 26 July 2010, a month after the Toronto G8/G20, and also after Parliament had closed for the summer, while there was a decreased media presence in Ottawa.

Enormous public outcry resulted in two formal, recorded hearings, the results of which were 11 in support and 497 against.

Why Eliminate the Long Form Census?

The principle argument from the Harper Government was that the Long- form was offensive to Canadians as a violation of privacy.

In the last twenty years there have been a total of three (3) registered complaints over privacy concerning Canada’s census.

Clearly, this is not evidence-based decision making, and the Harper Government quickly changed its rhetoric to blame Statistics Canada for having outlined other options. There was no mention made that these options were only presented at the request of Cabinet Ministers, who had already made the decision to eliminate the mandatory Long-form census.

Why a voluntary Long-form is bad for Canada

1. Voluntary surveys do not give an accurate representation of the group in question, because given the choice, certain individuals within that group are more likely to answer than others. In this case, it would result in an inaccurate representation of the Canadian population.

2. The Contagion Effect – Because they do not have to respond to this survey, participants are less likely to respond to future surveys and are more likely to view those surveys as less important.

3. Decreases public confidence in “official” data, and implicitly discredits future data collected.

4. Breaks ground for the 2A Short-form to become voluntary as well.

Alternate forms of information gathering are ineffective

Population Registers, for instance, include business data as well as data from other non-government sources. More importantly, this data is not bound under the Statistics Act and therefore not confidential.

Statistics Canada works extremely hard to maintain that confidentiality.

Population Registers can take up to ten years to be effectively implemented, and even after that incredible expenditure of time and resources the information collected –such as credit card statements and cell phone bills– is unreliable at best.

Statistics Canada did not ask for this

At no point did Statistics Canada advocate for the elimination of the mandatory Long-form census, and on 21 July 2020 Chief Statistician Munir Sheikh announced his resignation in protest. The following is an except from his statement:

“I cannot reveal and comment on this advice because this information is protected under the law. However, the government can make this information public if it so wishes.

I want to take this opportunity to comment on a technical statistical issue which has become the subject of media discussion. This relates to the question of whether a voluntary survey can become a substitute for a mandatory census.

It can not.”

What to do in Fredericton this weekend


Kayne Wong, Experience Congress 2011

It has been a wild week for the city of Fredericton but Congress is not over yet! On Saturday, there are still plenty of things for everyone to do. There are still nine presentations to attend, the FSAC Annual General Meeting and many things to do all around Fredericton and the greater surrounding area. So are you here for the weekend? Let us help you find something fun to do!

At Congress:
The CSA, CIRA, FSAC, SSS and CSA all will continue to meet and present up until 5PM. Just check the Delegates Guide or your Association Programs for the presentation times and locations.

Downtown Nightlife:
On Saturday Boom! Nightclub features DJ Hindsight on. Doors open at 8. On Sunday they have their Sunday Mixer from 5PM until 8PM.

Scientists of Sound play that the Capital Complex on Saturday June 4th. Tickets are available in advance at Reeds and Backstreet Records for 12$ a head.

At the Beaverbrook:
The Beaverbrook Art Gallery downtown has several different events going on over the week and weekend including but not limited to “Hello Dahli!”, the return of Santiago El Grande by Salvador Dali and “Beyond Likeness” which is a collection of works by 23 Canadian artists. More events, if you are interested in the visual arts check out their website for more details.

At the Playhouse:
Dance Fredericton will be putting on its end of the year show at the Playhouse on Saturday, “Sleeping Beauty and Other Stores”. Over 200 dancers will be performing in this showcase, drawn from all ages and level of skill. There will be two showings, one at 2:30 and one at 7:30. Tickets are 18$ at the door.

In the Downtown:
The Fredericton Baroque Music Festival opens its doors on Friday, but it is going to go on all weekend long. Check out the Christ Church Cathedral each night at 7:30 for a different concert! Tickets are by donation at the door with a suggested donation of 15$

Finally, there is no better way to start a Saturday morning in Fredericton then with the Boyce Farmers Market. Enjoy the outdoor eating, the indoor crafts and all the fresh and local produce, meats, cheese and treats you can carry back with you. If the weather is good, maybe you will get to see some of the excellent street performances!

Photo courtesy of nagzi on Flickr

(Français) Le Canada et les réfugiés : une question de contrôle


Sorry, this entry is only available in Français.

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

Out of the Ruins: The Wire’s Baltimore


Sarah Bernstein, Experience Congress 2011

McMaster University PhD candidate Sarah Trimble’s paper, “Body-More, Murdaland: Geographies of Gender, Race, and Capital in HBO’s The Wire,” reads the show’s Baltimore, Maryland as a space of becoming.

Trimble begins with a discussion of The Wire’s second season, which opens with the discovery of thirteen Jane Does in a shipping container in the Baltimore harbor. The port, in its last stages of physical and economic decay, becomes a site of convergence for space and flesh. Jump cuts create visual proximities between the embodied vulnerability of trafficked female bodies and the death of work for white, working-class men.

As trafficked bodies, the Jane Does act as economic supplements to working-class labour, while representing, at the same time, the eclipse of the working-class labour sector. The Jane Does also suggest a “feminization” of work – serving as a reminder that the labour market has shifted in favour of the service industry.

In this way, Trimble sees The Wire playing with the long (think Imperial) history of gendering and racializing places. Anxieties about a precarious global economy are displaced onto a feminized, unruly inner city – an apocalyptic vision of sorts.

Contemporary preoccupations with an apocalyptic vision, says Trimble, are inexorably tied to a specific moment in neo-liberalism. In apocalypse narratives, the ruined or “unruly” city becomes a place of anchor for the new, penetrable and easily-policed world. For Trimble, who is interested in finding other ways to read apocalyptic narratives, The Wire’s ruined Baltimore develops and rebuilds at the same time as it fissures to reveal the displaced, invisible bodies – the “collateral damage” (incidentally, also the title of the season’s fifteenth episode) of this economic development.

Survivalist readings of apocalyptic narratives amount to a “reconstituting [of] the family around a patriarchal model,” Trimble says. Finding an alternative reading, she feels, is ethically important. “I was interested in the suppressed alternative, what happens to women and children in the apocalyptic vision.”

Trimble sees The Wire as exploring the “condition that we live in”: the ways in which city-dwellers inherit proximities and fields of possibility from the city’s “spaces that open and close. Histories get materialized in our lives and bodies,” she says. The city-space offers a “spectrum of futures.”

The Wire’s apocalyptic Baltimore is not just a ruin out of which something can be built; it is a site of excavation where visions and memories themselves resonate.

Photo courtesy hirejoejohnson at Flickr


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.

learn more >

Mothers, Teachers, and Ambassadors

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

learn more >

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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