Critical conversations the norm at diversity conference

- Melanie Groves

How does research benefit the community? How do we become allies in the movement for social justice? The 2014 Provost’s Diversity Research Forum: Arts, Allies and Activism, takes on these and other questions on Wednesday, Jan. 29 and Thursday, Jan. 30 at the University of Victoria. This annual conference brings together faculty, staff, students and community members to discuss groundbreaking research and engage in critical conversations on a wide range of equity and diversity topics, from gender and race to faith, sexuality and Indigenous approaches to the arts.

“This forum recognizes UVic scholars who do diverse research, and provides a space to share that research with our community,” says Grace Wong Sneddon, conference chair and adviser to the provost on equity and diversity. “Every voice is welcome, and we strive to create a safe space where people can talk about issues that are often difficult to discuss.”

The 2014 program features keynote speakers Denise Chong and Yvonne Brown. Chong is an internationally-published and award winning writer, best known for The Concubine’s Children. She was named in 2013 as an Officer of the Order of Canada “for her contributions to Canadian culture as a writer, and for her civic engagement in social causes, notably in support of human rights and the arts.” Denise Chong’s presentation will be part of the opening reception at First Peoples House on Wednesday, Jan. 29 (4-7 p.m.), which will also feature a special performance—the Dance of the Big Button Blanket—and readings by winners of the Diversity Writing and Spoken Word contests.

Keynote speaker Yvonne Brown, a retired public school teacher, university lecturer, researcher, writer and social justice advocate, will speak on Thursday, Jan. 30 at 11:15 a.m. in the Student Union Building. Brown’s research, writing and workshops focus on how the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and plantation slavery on the continent of Africa and in its Diasporas are remembered in various struggles for citizenship.

Concurrent sessions on January 30 include From the Heart: How Arts, Allies and Activism all Converged in One Unconventional Theatre Production; First OUT: Introducing—Positive Space Network Workshop 2.0; and Racial, Religious and Other Forms of Otherness at UVic and Beyond.

The closing plenary, A Conversation with Indigenous Artists, will showcase the work of artists Lindsay Delaronde, Master Carver Charles Elliott, OBC and Victoria Poet Laureate Janet Rogers.

The conference is free of charge but pre-registration is required and space is limited. Everyone is welcome: faculty, staff, students and community members. More info: Follow us on Twitter @diverseforum and on Facebook: uvicdiversityforum.


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Keywords: diversity, research, community

People: Grace Wong Sneddon, Denise Chong, Yvonne Brown

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