Presenter Bios

DAY 1 (Morning session - 1) - Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Problematizing Canada's Relationship with its Indigenous Peoples

Reclaiming the Treaty Partner Relationship

Facilitator(s): Janet Csontos

Ontario education policy calls for the incorporation of Indigenous perspectives within mainstream curriculum as a way to support Indigenous students’ achievement levels in Canadian schools, but enactment of the policy is hindered by persisting colonial perspectives within society, the education system, and the language used in the policy documents themselves. In order to decolonize learning environments, the analysis of an overlooked area of study is required: the Settler Identity. This teach-in helps participants to recognize and deconstruct the learned behaviours that perpetuate colonialism in Canadian society, in order to promote well being and educational success for Indigenous and Settler Canadian learners alike.

An educator will share her graduate research and personal narrative as a descendant of Indigenous citizens and European settlers at the time of contact. An examination of historical policies that have shaped current thought patterns in society will provide insight to why inequality between Indigenous and Canadian citizens persists. Participants will explore the meanings of the foundational agreements that led to the creation of Canada, and recognize how they are relevant today.

Current examples of classroom practices that actively honour the spirit and intent of the treaties will be shared.

Indigenous Perspectives on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls

Facilitator(s): Terry Swan

There is considerable debate about the scale of the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Canada. The RCMP conducted an operational review in 2014 of homicide and unsolved missing person cases from 1980 and 2012. The review found that there were 1,181 missing or murdered Indigenous women in this period. The Native Women’s Association of Canada has stated that the number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is closer to 4000, which would also include cases that have been wrongly reported as accidents or suicides.

Violence against Indigenous women has its root causes in colonialism, cultural genocide, systemic racism and poverty. Indigenous women and girls, regardless of status, continue to be placed in harm's way, denied equitable protection of the law, and marginalized in a way that allows men to carry out violent crimes against them with impunity. This workshop will explore the deeply ingrained discrimination and broadly held racism in Canadian society, including policy and legislation that has contributed to and continues to perpetuate the high level of violence against Indigenous women.

Exploring Two-Spirit Identities

Facilitator(s): Laureen Blu Waters

This workshop will focus on two-spirit people perspectives. Questions that will be addressed in the workshop are:

Who are two-spirit people? What are their roles and responsibilities in their communities? How are two-spirit people welcomed in communities? How have the modern times changed the two-spirit way of life? How my role as a two-spirit Elder is seen in communities?

Participants will have a better understanding of whom are two-spirit people? As well as, participants will engage in learning and unlearning on how to be an ally and/or support in integrating two-spirit people back into their honored roles in communities.

DAY 1 (Afternoon session - 2) - Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Problematizing Canada's Relationship with its Indigenous Peoples

Healing Circles: The Foundation of Indigenous Justice

Facilitator(s): Bonnie Johnston

Since time immemorial, Indigenous communities have always had their own ways of dealing with issues of “imbalance” otherwise known by western societies as “justice” which implies reference to a “standard of rightness”.

In the 1990s, the Canadian government began funding Aboriginal Justice Programs that were specifically aimed to take Indigenous “offenders” out of the criminal justice system and have them dealt with in more culturally responsive and meaningful ways. Since this time, many Indigenous communities in Canada are now involved in developing and implementing their own justice strategies & initiatives. The goal is to work toward supporting long-term individual & community healing- restoring balance between people and communities. This is done by addressing the root cause of the problem/issue through the use of Healing Circles.

Many Indigenous people in Canada and around the world utilize Circles in a variety of ways- for gatherings, healing, justice, ceremonies and education. Circles bring people together to share stories, perspectives, feelings, emotions and even joy and humor.

This workshop will provide participants with opportunities to learn about Indigenous approaches to healing through the use of Circles. More specifically, you will learn about Circles and how they are the foundation of Indigenous justice.

Treaty Knowledge for All

Facilitator(s): Krista Tucker Petrick

Who here is a treaty person? We all are! Participants will engage in discussions around responsibilities and rights under treaties in Ontario and how this relates to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action in relation to Education for Reconciliation. Connections to curriculum will be reviewed by using the documents First Nation, Métis and Inuit Connections: Scope and Sequence of Expectations (2016). Practical strategies for introducing treaties in the classroom will be shared and discussion of how to connect with community members to have them come to your classroom so that students can learn from and with them will be ongoing throughout the session. We will review a variety of text resources, including maps, to improve our knowledge of the treaty areas that we live, work and play on.

Building Bridges of Knowledge: Putting the 'I' in FNMI Education

Facilitator(s): Marilyn Maychak and Sarabeth Holden

Looking for the “I”/Inuit in FNMI education and perspectives? Inuit are a part of the rich tapestry of Indigenous peoples in Canada, yet knowledge of Inuit cultures, histories, language and traditions is a silent, sometimes absent, voice in Indigenous education. This workshop will explore ways to build bridges of authentic knowledge that build and strengthen relationships with Inuit in communities, classrooms, and schools through

i) the paradox and contradictions in Canada’s relationship with Inuit,

ii) the beginnings of historical and contemporary issues impacting and influencing Inuit,

iii) the narratives of Inuit experience of colonization, residential schools, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, and

iv) the history of Inuit self-determination through the signing of comprehensive land claim agreements (modern treaties)

DAY 2 (Morning session - 3a and 3b) - Thursday, August 24, 2017
Problematizing Canada's Relationships with Various Diverse Communities of Canada

Is Canada Ready for a Non-White Federal Leader?

Facilitator(s): Pardeep S. Nagra

I was recently asked by a reporter “Is Canada ready for a non-white federal leader?” in response to a South Asian male joining a federal leadership race. A better subject heading/question would have been more personal to the reader, something along the lines off, “We/Canada should be ready. Are you? If not why not? When will you be, what is needed for you to be?”

The conversation with the reporter is a conversation all Canadians must have with the understanding that historical and contemporary issues facing various diverse Canadians still result in racial profiling, marginalization, racism, and negative socio-economic and mental well being. Until we can be honest with our biases and hatred, we as a Country are not living up to our Canadian creed and values of equity, justice and human rights.

Join this conversation to learn about the historical and present-day contributions of South Asian communities towards nation-building. Their resiliency and perseverance is in fact, just the story of Canada that needs to be told.

Our Home on Native Land

Facilitator(s): Paola Gomez

“Not everything that is legal is right, not everything that is right is legal”

When words such as “refugees”, “decolonization” “Land acknowledgement” and “true Canadian” have become somehow fashionable, it is important to explore how we move from a passive discourse to action.

The Canadian system that welcomed us, “Refugees” , protecting us from cruel treatment and death is yet to be held accountable for the treatment and disappearance of indigenous people in their territory. Indigenous people of Canada remain generous with colonizers and settlers. This is a time to validate the experiences of indigenous communities, repair and be part of process of healing and reconciliation. Before that, WE need to stop and listen.

Ever Again

Facilitator(s): Avi Benlolo

Despite Jewish established presence in Canada for over two hundred years, the Jewish community continues to experience, hate and antisemitism. While the first settlers arrived in 1750 and Canada's first synagogue was established in 1863, Jewish citizens have both integrated spectacularly into the nation's social fabric yet have suffered tremendously from the scourge of antisemitism. This dichotomy of establishment and success in Canada versus continuous efforts by racists to victimize Jewish citizens is disconcerting as we celebrate Canada's 150 years since confederation. Most interestingly, is the recent surge in antisemitism by the so-called alt-right and the alt-left – demonstrating that despite integration, pluralistic values and multiculturalism many Canadians hold racist views aimed at marginalizing Canadian Jewish citizens. This presentation therefore will reach into the past and move rapidly to exploring contemporary forms of oppression against the Jewish community.

Diaspora, Self-reflection, and Solidarity: Re/imagining Latinx Communities in Canada

Facilitator(s): Cristina Guerrero

What does it mean to be Latinx in Canada? The past few years have brought about much-needed and sometimes difficult conversations that extend far beyond topics of language, nationality, and geography. Ranging from topics like the politics of names to race to settler colonialism, these conversations highlight the necessity of building critical transnational partnerships of activism and solidarity. Such partnerships are crucial in the collaborative creation of strategies to better understand and serve the needs of Latinx youth and families.

This interactive workshop will draw from frameworks of critical race theory and transnational Latinx feminism to critically approach questions of Latinx diaspora and solidarity in Canada. As a way of directing our inquiry, together we will examine how these theoretical frameworks could help mobilize self-reflexive and critical conversations about power. While this workshop will primarily focus on current events and initiatives, we will also engage with some past work as a way of providing a historical background as well as the opportunities to identify potential applications to school and community contexts.

Black Canadian Citizenship in the Time of Canada 150: A Retrospective and a Call to Action

Facilitator(s): Natasha Henry

Participants will learn more about the historical context of the struggles of Black Canadians for full citizenship and freedoms before and after Confederation and the legacies of anti-Black racism that remain with us today, particularly in education. This workshop will also encourage participants to examine the ways education needs to be used, at this juncture in Canadian history, to mitigate the impacts of these historically-rooted factors on Black learners. Participants will also explore how education can be used as a transformative tool to address anti-Black racism and learn about resources that can be used to bring Black experiences and Black voices into various youth learning spaces.

Chinese Exclusion and Indigenous Dispossession

Facilitator(s): A.W. Lee

This session will explore the complicated connections between East Asian exclusion and Indigenous dispossession in the colonial project of Canadian federalization. Our discussion will be rooted in the connected histories of Indigenous nations and Chinese indentured labour, necessary conditions for the formation of the Canadian state. We will be directing our attention to building relationships of responsibility between new migrants from East Asia and Indigenous people in Canada.

The Queer Experience in Celebrating Canada’s 150: Parades Don’t Stop Oppression!

Facilitator(s): Barry Bedford

There is no question that things have “gotten better” for the majority of the LGBTQ+ community in Canada in recent years. But let’s be honest, oppression of the LGBTQ Community is a daily lived reality! As educators it is imperative that we continue to support and work alongside this population and encourage all to self-identify and live their lives recognized as respected members of our school communities whether students, staff, parents or community members. As administrators and teachers we must deepen our understanding of the inequities and barriers this population face navigating the Ontario education system. It may not be your lived reality – but it is for many within your schools!

This session will explore the LGBTQ movement in Canada over the past few decades and understand the great strides we as a community have made through activism and organization. It is our obligation as educators to ensure safe spaces for all, including this population. We will explore some strategies for support and inclusion that make a difference.

Supporting this community requires more than attending a parade!

Challenging Islamophobia - a Canadian Conversation

Facilitator(s): Jeewan Chanicka

Presenting with: Nora Hindy and Sameh Helmy

This workshop will explore the historic presence of Muslim settlers on the part of Turtle Island we call Canada today. The Muslim community spans well over 80 ethno-cultural backgrounds and this diversity makes tackling Islamophobia more complex. There are Indigenous Muslims, Black Muslims, LGBT identifying Muslims and many others in the intersections as well as multiple expressions of Islam across Canada. Through unpacking Muslim experiences - the myths and realities- alongside data trends showing significant increases in Islamophobia, educators will explore the impact on students on communities and think broadly about ways to support through curriculum, school and board structures.

DAY 2 (Panelists) - Thursday, August 24, 2017
Problematizing Canada's Relationships with Various Diverse Communities of Canada

Gillian Parekh

Dr. Gillian Parekh is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at York University and Adjunct faculty with the Faculty of Community Services, Early Childhood Education at Ryerson University. As a former special education teacher and research coordinator with the Toronto District School Board, Gillian's research interests include critical disability studies, critical analysis of special and inclusive education, structural barriers to education, academic streaming and structured pathways through school, and system-wide trends relating to the social and economic replication of privilege. Her work can be found in the Canadian Journal of Education, Disability and Society, Canadian Review of Sociology and Education Policy Analysis Archives

Jacqie (OCDSB)

Jeewan Chanicka

Jeewan Chanicka is the Superintendent of Equity, Anti-Racism & Anti-Oppression in Toronto District School Board. Most recently, he was at the Ministry of Education in Ontario Canada in the Inclusive Education Branch.

He has a BA in Conflict Resolution and Culturally appropriate forms of Mediation and his Masters Degree in Education. He has consulted with the United Nations University of Peace as part of a team to develop a curriculum framework on Peace Education in the Islamic context implemented in various parts of the world.

Jeewan has also been a public speaker in North America and Europe on a variety of issues around equity, inclusion, and anti-oppression. He has been the chair, co-chair and/or member of the following organizations in York Region: Educators for Social Justice, Association for Educators of Black Students, Educators for Students of South Asian Heritage, Serving East Asian Students among others.

Silvia Argentina Arauz

Silvia-Argentina Arauz is a Nicaraguan born Latina with African and Indigenous roots. During her years in Toronto, she directly and vicariously experiences the impacts of institutional racism and other forms of oppression. In order to eradicate systemic barriers, she has dedicated much of her youth and adult life to the incubation and amplification of pro-liberation models. As Director of Education and Programs for a national not-for-profit, she created the Youth Social Infrastructure Administrative and Mentorship Shared Platform model, providing over 100 youth from marginalized communities supports to secure funding for their ideas without compromising ownership of their intellectual property. Silvia-Argentina then worked as Executive Director of the Canadian Alliance of Black Educators (CABE) and presently works as Co-Chair of LAEN- The Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network. At LAEN, Silvia-Argentina coordinates large volunteer-led hubs of over 500 supporters and programs such as the Educators Knowledge-Exchange Series committed to sustained culturally responsive and reflective learning and teaching spaces for BIPOC communities. Silvia-Argentina has over 10 years of experience working as a Consultant developing, implementing and assessing resources for African / Caribbean /Indigenous/ Latinx diasporic perspectives. She sits on various committees such as the TDSB Equity, Policy Advisory Committee and Education Not Incarceration coalition.

Suzanne Nurse

Parent engagement and student success are two key motivators that drive Suzanne Nurse to excel in her work and role as Trustee and Vice Chair for the Peel District School Board. Over the past eleven years, Suzanne has been active in maintaining her passion for preparing students to achieve academic success in post-secondary education, the workforce and in positively impacting their communities.

As a Brampton resident for over 20 years, Suzanne has been committed to making a difference in the Peel board. She has chaired and has been a contributing member of several board committees including Audit, Student Discipline, Staff Grievance, Budget Development, and French Immersion Review, just to name a few.   In the fall of 2016, Suzanne introduced a motion to direct the Peel Board to conduct a student census, in essence to collect race based data, beginning in the fall of 2018. It was unanimously approved.

Suzanne is passionate about her family, community and using her voice to make a positive difference. As a self-described problem-solver and mediator, Suzanne feels no issue is ever one- sided and there is always a solution where everyone can be heard and feel supported—particularly with students.

Suzanne volunteers with her church and various community groups. She is the co-chair of the Black Community Action Network of Peel Region and has worked with organizations such as Carabram, Rapport Youth and Family Services, local residents group in Heart Lake and Brampton NorthWest Connects.

Trevor Massey

Trevor Massey is the former registrar of Centennial College. He also served as Associate Registrar at University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), and was a management consultant at other post-secondary organizations in Canada, Jamaica and Romania. As registrar, he provided leadership to a full set of student services including student recruitment, admissions, registration, student records, student information systems, enrolment management, scheduling, bursar, student awards and policy development. He also served as executive director for an Ontario Colleges’ project titled Colleges Integrating Immigrants towards Education (CIITE) and is past chair of the BBPA’s National Scholarship Fund. In 2013, he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for Service to Jamaica and the Diaspora. He currently serves as chair of the Lifelong Leadership Institute whose signature program is Leadership by Design.

DAY 2 (Afternoon session - 4) - Thursday, August 24, 2017
Beyond 150: Ideas, Innovations and Activism

Community Music: The Genesis of a Diverse Partnership

Facilitator(s): Karen Burke

The Regent Park School of Music (RPSM) has been providing subsidized music lessons to low income families since 1999. Their aim has been to help students in key neighbourhoods achieve success through music. Through a unique partnership with the Carswell Family Foundation and York University, the school is now extending its programs to the Jane and Finch area to offer more children the opportunity to engage in transformative music making.

Karen Burke (York University), Richard Marsella (Regent Park School of Music), and others will discuss the genesis of this inspiring collaboration, the aims and objectives of the partnership between RPSM and York University, and the benefits of arts education in the community.

Supporting and Enhancing the School Engagement of Bi-dialectal, African and Caribbean Descent Students

Facilitator(s): Dr. Monday Gala

This workshop aims to familiarize teachers, administrators and educational workers with issues confronted by bi-dialectal students in addressing school-based expectations and other educational challenges. Research data related to the academic trajectories and social inclusion of African and Caribbean descent students in Ontario are introduced. We also explore inclusive schooling practices that have been shown to enhance students’ academic engagement and performance by creating a welcoming and supportive school environment. Using C.W. Jefferys C.I. as a case study, we explore the ways in which students are made to feel as though they are part of the school community and not only capable of achieving, but expected to thrive.

Mobilizing Praxis: Teacher Candidates’ Experiences in Teaching and Learning for Social Justice

Facilitator(s): Marc Robinson-Weekes


  • Arthur Burrows
  • Shane Camastro
  • Drusilla Crearer
  • Nancy DeMedeiros

Teacher Candidate experiences are a central focus in Faculties of Education. The purpose of this workshop is to address the numerous successes and challenges faced by a panel of Teacher Candidates that have recently completed their first or second year of the Initial Teacher Education program at York University. Through in-depth analysis, critical conversations and audience feedback we will explore multiple strategies to support current and future Teacher Candidates. Panelists will discuss their numerous experiences as Teacher Candidates ranging from how recently released research reports have influenced their teaching and learning practice, to how Teacher Candidates can be effectively supported to mobilize equity and social justice as part of their teaching praxis.

Connecting the Classroom and Community through Transformative Spaces and Conversations: A Case Study of LAEN's Call-to-Action-Plan

Facilitator(s): Silvia Argentina Arauz

This workshop will be contextualized from an anti-colonial and equity lens. It will serve to highlight and question the anti-Indigenous and anti-Black rhetoric of "Canada 150" perpetuated in "Canada's" education system. The Call-to-Action-Plan of Latinx, Afro-Latin-America, Abya Yala Education Network (LAEN) has been a catalyst for critical connections, conversations and changes in the relationships between community educators, classroom teachers, families, students and their roles and responsibilities in de-centering eurocentric power on Turtle Island. This case study unpacks LAEN's activism in creating transformative Pro-Black and Pro-Indigenous spaces through initiatives such as: Latin-America History Month and K-12 related year-long Initiatives; LAEN's campaign to address the School Resource Officer program; and parent/youth/educators peer mentorship initiatives. The structure will run as an "Educators-Knowledge-Exchange" valuing everyone as knowledge providers and receivers at once.

'Social Determinants of Education': A lens for Community-School Partnerships

Facilitator(s): The Jane Finch TSNS Task Force Education Action Group and Lorna Schwartzentruber, Co-chair Education Action Group, and Manager, York University-TD Community Engagement Centre,

The Jane Finch Education Action Group has identified 4 themes that they feel are necessary to strengthen educational outcomes at a neighbourhood level. These themes are: 1) Know the data, 2) Use a "Social Determinants of Education" lens, 3) Raise expectations
of and opportunities for all students, and 4) Advocacy through community engagement and involvement of parents and students. This workshop will explore how these themes can translate into more meaningful community-parent- student-school relationships.

Queering Schools

Facilitator(s): Jeremy Dias

After coming out in high school, Jeremy faced extreme cases of discrimination by students & school officials. At 17, he began a legal case against his school and school board, and at 21 won Canada’s second largest human rights settlement. Jeremy used the money to found the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity, the international Day of Pink and the Jeremy Dias Scholarship.

Jeremy has been featured on Canada AM, Much Music, CTV News, Global News and CBC News; and has been a keynote speaker at countless conferences and events.

He has completed a degree in Psychology and Political Science at the University of Ottawa, continues to volunteer for a number of organizations including Minister of Status of Women’s Gender Based Violence Prevention Advisory Committee and the Ottawa Police Liaison Committee. He is also a columnist for 2B Magazine in Montreal. Jeremy Dias currently serves as The Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity (and the International Day of Pink)’s Director.

Decolonizing Schools

Facilitator(s): Decolonizing Schools

  • Christina Saunders
  • Barbara-Ann Felshow

Leadership by Design – Narrowing the Opportunity Gap by Helping African-Caribbean Students Optimize Their Talents and Fulfill their Ambitions.

Facilitator(s): Trevor Massey

What does it take to close the achievement and opportunity gaps between African-Caribbean students and the rest of the student population? How can we prepare our youth to meet the challenge of significant inequalities in the workplace and to build meaningful careers? How can we prepare our youth to practise effective and responsible leadership? There are no easy answers but there must be determined resolve to find workable solutions. We know these issues continue to challenge schools and community organizations and that there are many pathways to a solution. Enter the Lifelong Leadership Institute (LLI) which is given to inspiring leadership and developing leaders in the GTA’s Black and Caribbean communities. Its signature program is Leadership by Design (LBD). The LBD program targets African-Caribbean students. It provides at least seven years of developmental support for students spanning the high-school and university years.