Teachers for Global Awareness (with members from Greater Essex County District School Board, Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board, Faculty of Education -University of Windsor, Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation & Can-Am Indian Friendship Centre) is proud to present the 11th Annual High School Social Justice Forum- em(POWER)ment on Friday October 14, 2016 at the University of Windsor- Ambassador Auditorium and Dillon Hall.
Through a full day of workshops and group discussions, students will learn about social justice issues relating to the theme of em(POWER)ment on topics such as mental health, feminism, LGBTTIQQ, racism, water rights, politics, refugees, ableism, and art activism. Leslie McCurdy, an outstanding performing artist from Windsor, ON, will perform scenes from her one-women play, “Things My Fore-Sisters Saw” which highlights how several women of African descent affected change in Canada.
Students must select four workshops in order of preference from which two will be assigned.
For more information, and to register, please visit the EM[POWER]MENT Event Page.
Keynote: Leslie McCurdy
Actor/Playwright, Dancer/Choreographer, Singer, Finalist Canadian Chalmers Play Award
Named Outstanding Performing Artist of Windsor Ontario, Canada, Leslie McCurdy, has been performing for many years in Southwestern Ontario and the Mid-Western United States, a privilege her dual US/Canadian citizenship affords her. Also a teacher, with an honours B.F.A. in dance from the University of Michigan, Leslie was slated to go to New York to apprentice with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre when she literally tripped, fractured her hip, and fell into acting. While she has many theatre credits, Leslie is best known for the one-woman plays that she wrote and has toured with internationally for 15 years. Called “brilliant” and “something everyone should see”, her solo performances are at once educational and inspirational leaving a lasting impression on all who experience them!
Leslie has recently returned to her dance roots and is a member of Dance Nonce, a modern dance company based in Grosse Point Michigan.
Leslie McCurdy will be performing two scenes from her one-woman play, “Things My Fore-Sisters Saw” which highlights how several women of African descent affected change in Canada. You will meet Mary-Ann Shadd, the first North American woman to publish and edit a newspaper and Viola Desmond who refused to give up a seat to segregation well before the celebrated Rosa Parks, in this play.
“In order to know the person, you need to know the family.”
Theresa’s father was Delaware and her mother was Upper Mohawk. She has been a volunteer, Board Member, staff member since the Friendship Centre movement was in its infancy.
She has worn many hats, Court Worker, Literacy Coordinator, Healing and Wellness, Health Outreach and Executive Director. An area where Theresa has excelled is online training for cultural teachings. The Ontario Native Literacy Coalition has archived the cultural teachings and the thanksgiving address that she developed and delivered to the 26 Aboriginal Programs in Ontario.
As a resource person, Theresa has worked in the Penitentiaries in Kingston as a teacher, counselor and traditional healer. She continues to work as a traditional resource person for:Ontario Native Literacy Coalition.
- Regina Saskatchewan’s All Nations Hope conferences
- Ontario Provincial Police, Aboriginal Relations Team
- Ontario Police college
- Past President of Ska: na Family Learning Centre
- Vice President /Treasurer of The Ontario Native Literacy Coalition
- Board member of Indigenous Education Coalition
- Chief Executive Officer for the Native Women of Windsor
- Elder for Wayne State Native Students
- Elder for Native American Indian Association in Detroit
- Elder for American Indian Health and Family Services in Detroit
- “One thing that is always consistent is to make a difference. I hope in some small way, I can give someone else choices to make a difference in their life. Some did that for me, and I hope I can do the same for someone else. Nya: weh, Thank you”
Lina Chaker is a proud Windsorite with a passion for bridging communities through food and art. Prior to initiating both a farmers’ market and community kitchen on campus, she established a community garden in East Windsor, where she continues to organize block parties and public art projects. Her youth engagement experience has led her to be reappointed to the Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities, where she advises provincial policy makers by amplifying the lived experiences of marginalized youth. While working on her bachelors of Arts & Science with a major in Communication studies, Lina has explored the motivations of youth advocacy in the Tikkun research-action project and helped gather student perspectives of “real food” to guide Meal Exchange’s strategy.
Jay Sivakumar, 22, studies Political Science at the University of Windsor. She was born in India and immigrated to the United States at the age of 7 with her family before settling in Windsor. She is interested in local and international humanitarian efforts which emphasize community and skills-building in marginalized populations. She is also interested in generating a creative platform for individuals facing socioeconomic barriers to have the opportunity to thrive and vocalize their thoughts. Jay hopes to pursue a career in law and to continue to be a part of non-profit organizations that foster positive community collaborations.
Dr. Catherine Hundleby
Catherine Hundleby has a BA from Toronto, an MA from Guelph, and a PhD from Western. All degrees are in philosophy but feminist philosophy has always been part of her scholarship, and now she is appointed in Philosophy at the University of Windsor and cross-appointed to Women’s and Gender Studies. Her favourite questions to ask concern power differentials among people -- not so much official status like rank or job title, but more who is allowed to speak or write, who is read or heard, and who is listened to more than others. In Western Culture we value equality but we sometimes assume too quickly that we have it when sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination pervade our interactions. Hundleby addresses how such subtle inequalities affect knowledge. Her doctoral thesis was on feminist philosophy of science, and now she works on issues of social justice in argumentation. She is the Director of the new interdisciplinary PhD in Argumentation Studies starting at the University of Windsor in Fall 2017.
Dr. Frances Cachon
Fran Cachon is an adjunct professor in the department of sociology, anthropology and criminology at the University of Windsor, where she earned her Ph.D. in sociology with an emphasis on social justice. She is currently teaching 38-321 (Seminar in Social Justice) and exploring embodied pedagogies for critical education. Her dissertation considered the under researched transnational lives of Mexican migrants in Canada, highlighting the importance of embodied transnationalism (the intimate, material and corporeal social-spatial relations from which the practices of transnational engagement are produced). She is a long-time social justice activist and board member of the Global Resources Centre/Ten Thousand Villages Windsor.
Dr. Kael Sharman
Kael Sharman has been a high school teacher for 15 years. He has been an active member in the GSA for staff at the Greater Essex County District School Board since its inception. Recognized locally and provincially for his work on supporting transgender people, Kael has led workshops on transgender issues for local high school students at the GSA conference (GECDSB) and fellow educators at the Provincial Leadership Conference (OSSTF). Dr. Sharman is the recent recipient of a PhD on the topic of Gender, Class and Curriculum at W.D. Lowe Technical Secondary School, 1923-1973.
Enver Villamizar is an Occasional Teacher with the Greater Essex County District School Board. He was a candidate in the Federal Elections in the riding of Essex and has been politically active since he was in high school. His main work has been to involve the youth in politics and in defending the rights of all in society.
Cassandra Richardson is a senior Manager at the Windsor Women Working With Immigrant Women W5). She oversees the Youth Programs and Services, Women’s Programs and Services and Mental Health and Services Departments at the centre. She has worked in service of newcomer integration since 2007, after graduating with a Masters in Communications and Social Justice from the University of Windsor in 2006 and returned for a second Masters in Social Work in the professional program at the U. During her time with the W5 she has worked in a variety of programs, most notably with the Newcomer Arts Project (NAP), a program in the youth department at W5. NAP is an initiative that encourages integration in Canadian society through artistic expression. This expression has taken the form in visual art, dancing, drumming, drama, film, and most recently, music. The program involves youth from all over the world. She has brought her findings and experience in working with the arts with immigrant and refugee youth to conferences such as The Power of the Arts of the Michaelle Jean Foundation and the Faculty of Education Social Justice Conference at University of Windsor and the annual High School Social Justice Forum in 2012. Cassandra has successfully integrated the art community with these efforts (including the Ontario Arts Council), and has successfully spearheaded seven dramatic productions, including the widely regarded play “Inside the Burden” which is highly acclaimed for describing the stories of newcomer youth when settling into Canada. During these initiatives, youth work directly with local artists, like Chris Rabideau to write scripts and create plays based on their own lived experience. Each of these plays allows youth to express themselves to audiences from all over Windsor-Essex County, offering education about the realities of being a newcomer youth. In short, Cassandra has never been content with status quo. She seeks to expose youth to as much positive experiences as possible and enjoys being with them every step of the way.
Erwin Dimitri Selimos is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology at the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada. His research interests include the sociology of childhood and youth, as well as the sociology of migration. His dissertation research is entitled "Young Immigrant Lives: The Migration and Settlement Experiences of Immigrant and Refugee Youth in a Midsized Immigrant-Receiving City in Canada." Overall, Erwin's research and work is dedicated to building inclusive communities where all young people can find meaningful participation and well-being.
Amina Hussein is 23 and originally from Somalia. She is a graduate from the former JL. Forster Secondary High school. She is a youth leader in her community and amongst her peers. She currently attends St. Michael’s Catholic Adult School. Amina was a key contributor to the” Inside the Burden” story collage. Her refugee experience started at the very young age of one and half years(18 months) of age and lasted for 16 years before coming to Canada. Amina is of the opinion that even after moving to Canada she still felt like a refugee because of how she felt she and her family were treated after arriving. Amina believes that the project and the movie was important for her to be a part of not only because it was an opportunity for her to get to engage with and learn about her new community, but she felt that “Inside the Burden” was one that helped refugee youth express their thoughts and feelings and could give the general public insight about the lives of individuals with refugee experience in order to build understanding and compassion. Amina has been a liaison to immigrant communities working with various projects and organizations to teach and enlighten. Beyond Inside the burden, Amina has worked with Chris on various drama projects like, Waking Up Blue, a project brining about awareness of LGBTQ youth in Windsor; The Tenant Rights Project, coordinated by Legal Assistance of Windsor with the help of Christopher Rabideau, that was geared to informing and empowering immigrant families about their rights as renters. Amina also influenced change on young girls of colour as a facilitator with the W5 with their immigrant girls of colour program. She was a presenter at the Michaelle Jean Foundation’s Power of the Arts conference, presenting the work of “Inside the Burden” and its impact on communal change in support of persons with refugee experiences.
Dane Macri is an educator, advocate and activist who has traveled to Haiti and Uganda working to create equitable opportunities for impoverished families, former child soldiers and people with disabilities in developing countries. His passions for equity stem from his own experiences overcoming a speech impediment. He initiated the "Give a S#@%"; project for accessible toilets for persons with disabilities in Uganda and coached wheelchair basketball for landmine survivors. Dane is a graduate of the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor, a member of the Advocacy Project in Washington DC and currently works for Windsor Essex Brokerage for Personal Supports.
David Robbins Singh aka 'Squeaky Wheelz" is a comedian who has traveled all across Ontario and Michigan performing his hilarious stand up routine, making light of disability and pretty much anything else in his comedic path of destruction. Dave's wit and clever analysis of society forces the audience to think critically about injustice while simultaneously laughing at the absurdity of discrimination. He is a communication student with a lot of experience in community development, such as his work with Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario
Carrie Sekela has a BA from Dartmouth College in Art History modified with Studio Art and a Masters in Education from Harvard University. While at Dartmouth College, Carrie was a member of the Women’s hockey and softball teams. Currently she is a sessional instructor at St. Clair College where she has taught Psychology and Sociology to the ECE, EDA, CYW and Pre-health Science students.
Tawana Honeycomb Petty
Tawana Petty is a mother, anti-racist social justice organizer, youth advocate, poet and author. She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and is intricately involved in water rights, digital justice and visionary organizing work. She is a past recipient of the Spirit of Detroit Award, the Woman of Substance Award, the Women Creating Caring Communities Award, the Detroit Awesome Award and was recognized as one of Who's Who in Black Detroit in 2013 and 2015. Tawana, known as Honeycomb on stage, is the author of Introducing Honeycomb and is due to release her second book, Coming Out My Box this fall. Visit honeycombthepoet.com for more information about Honeycomb.
Shantelle Browning-Morgan was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario. She is a teacher at Westview Freedom Academy. She began teaching with the Greater Essex County District School Board in 2001. In December of 2011, Shantelle was awarded the Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching History for her work in piloting an innovative course at Walkerville called The History of Africa and Peoples of African Descent and for contributing to the development of materials--African Canadian Roads to Freedom, elementary and secondary curriculum documents-- which highlight the history of African Canadians in the Essex Kent region. This is the top teaching honour in all of Canada. In 2009, she was a member of a team of teachers who helped pilot the Native Studies courses in various secondary schools. Shantelle takes great pride in community involvement, particularly around issues of social justice and Black history. Shantelle is the Secretary of the Essex Count Black Historical Research Society and she’s also involved in other organizations including: Friends of Women’s Studies, the African Youth Diaspora Conference, and Sister to Sister Think W.I.S.E. She is the mother of three children.
Jessica is a student at the University of Windsor, studying Families and Psychology. She was born and raised in Sarnia Ontario, where a series of personal experiences empowered her to step up as a leader in the movement to change the way people see and speak about mental health. By day, she plans kick-butt fundraisers for her student government on campus, and by night she can be found hanging out with her best buds - her pups!
Travis is a Western Student, studying Thanatology and Sexuality studies in London, ON. He is passionate about talking and sharing his story to mobilize his peers to take action against the stigma associated with mental health. He believes that youth, are the ones who are going to drive the fundamental shift to make mental health not-so-scary. Something that is scary, is Travis’ obsession with caffeine and ability to laugh at himself, even when not making a joke.
Srimoyee Mitra is a curator and writer. She has worked as the Art Writer for publications in India such as Time Out Mumbai and Art India Magazine. From 2008-2011, she was the Programming Co-ordinator of SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) in Toronto, where curatorial projects included “Crossing Lines: An Intercultural Dialogue” (2009 - 2010) at the Glenhyrst Art Gallery, Brantford. Mitra has participated in conferences and lectures across Canada, most recent ones include “Sensing Borders”, Daniels Faculty University of Toronto, Master of Visual Arts, Proseminar Speakers Series, December 3, 2015; “Home on Border lands”, The University of Arizona School of Art, Visiting Artists and Scholars Lecture Series, November 12, 2014 and Critical Dialogues in Curatorial and Art Practices organized by the Ontario Arts Council in March 2013. In 2015, she edited a multi-authored book, Border Cultures, co-published by the Art Gallery of Windsor and Black Dog Publishing and her writing can be found in journals such as Scapegoat Journal, Fuse and C Magazines. She is currently the Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of Windsor. Her most recent exhibition “Wafaa Bilal: 168: 01” has been featured by the media nationally and internationally.
Workshop 1 - First Nations' Empowerment Through Truth and Reconciliation
This workshop will help participants understand the purpose of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and its role in the empowerment of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. Through poignant storytelling and the transfer of her in-depth knowledge of what happened in Indian Residential Schools and other experiences of systemic oppression, elder Theresa Sims will inspire participants to become social justice advocates for the reconciliation and empowerment of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.
Workshop 2 - Creating em[POWER]ing Spaces
The workshop will focus on how youth can contribute to establishing “brave spaces”: moving beyond the safety of individual self-expression and acknowledging the contributions of each person in the creation of community.
First 20 mins: learning about best practices of creating empowering spaces conducive to collaborative initiatives which explore lived experiences and vulnerability to dismantle societal barriers and establish positive community collaborations. Discussion about previous experiences in the Breaking Barriers project at the Together We Flourish Community Garden.
Following 40 mins: will be an interactive experience where youth participants will be divided into small groups and provided with the opportunity to create empowering spaces for dialogue with others. Challenging questions will be provided to each circle, and a leader will help guide the conversations about important public current issues.
Last 20 mins: Groups will devise a creative summary which will be used to reflect their learning experience from the workshop. Main points will be shared with the group overall.
Workshop 3 - Feminism 101
This workshop will explore myths and facts about feminism. We consider “why wouldn’t you be a feminist?” That discussion of what people like and don’t like about feminism provides a basis for discussing the history of feminism and evaluating what we need from feminism now.
Workshop 4 - "We Don't Need Your Charity" - Fair Trade Em[POWER]ing Communities
This workshop will explore the systemic power structures that have helped create and maintain global poverty. Hands on activities will raise questions and challenge your concepts of international charity and volunteering. Participation and activism is encouraged as students investigate fair trade and its role in empowering communities.
Workshop 5 - Trans Men & Masculinity: Sources for Positive Personal Change
This workshop provides a forum for discussing the many aspects involved in "transitioning" from female to male, and feminine to masculine. Topics will include accessible health care, binding, packing, stand-to-pee devices, taking testosterone, changing I.D., surgical options, trans male role models, social transition and trans feminism.
Workshop 6 - Who's Democracy? Our Democracy! Electoral Reform and You
This workshop will inform you about the issue of electoral reform so that you can participate in renewing Canada's democracy.
Workshop 7 - Road to Refuge: Experiences of refugee Youth in Canada
This 75 minute workshop will engage participants through video and drama to bring about discussion of refugeeism or refugeehood. The workshop will take a particular slant on what it means to be a refugee youth in Canada, most notably, in Windsor. Facilitators Cassandra, Erwin, and Amina will lead you though activities of occurrences experienced by refugees, illustrating how and what refugee youth may feel when afflicted with discrimination and overwhelmed by barriers.
Youth participants will critically deconstruct refugee stereotypes, develop knowledge about how refugees are produced and issues associated with being a refugee, and actively engage in building empathy for fellow students and their families who happen to have experienced refugeehood.
Workshop 8 - Breaking Barriers for People Living on the Fringes with Disability, War and Poverty
So many times people living on the fringes of society are viewed as helpless and dependent. Charity often helps but one can argue that it does not seem to be a permanent solution. Come and join this interactive ride as we explore how communities are stronger when everyone has equitable opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways. Through storytelling, humour and lively open discussions we will explore the gifts and strengths of folks living on the margins from poverty, war and disability and how empowerment can serve as the compass that leads social justice.
Workshop 9 - In the Wake of Orlando - A Societal Shift Relies on You: LGBTTIQQ Empowerment
1) Introduction and discussion on the Orlando shooting. What do you know? How/why did this happen? What was your initial response? What is your perception on how your community both immediate and virtual reacted? What resonates with you about this tragedy?
2) Introduction and discussion about language and insults.
Specifically address how elusion to homosexuality and gender are commonly used to disparage/humiliate
3) What can “we” do to shift societal norms?
- Empowerment as a group effort
- Empowerment as an individual
4) Role play – students will be given cards with identities and a script. Each scenario is a real life event that has been reported by the LGBTTIQQ community. They will brainstorm in groups on how they will address each scenario then “perform” their role- play for the group
5) Discussion and Debrief
Workshop 10 - Poetry as Visionary Resistance
Toni Cade Bambara said, "the role of the artist is to make revolution irresistible." This session will explore the role of poetry in social justice movements & highlight poetry as an avenue for visionary resistance and as an art form worthy of political study and investment. We will explore poems, including some authored by the facilitator. We will dissect poems & assess their contributions to political movement, theory and livelihood. Students will walk away with collectively written poetry and an understanding of the role of the poet in narrating and ushering in a new world.
Workshop 11 - The New Black Power
The New Black Power inspires people to explore the politics of their blackness. It's a shaping of the culture that is defiant, courageous, and empowering. In this workshop, students will look into the Black Power era of the past and the current trends that are defining a new type of Black Power.
Workshop 12 - Mental Health Sitgma: Uncovering the Power of Youth Voice
Jack.org is a national network of student leaders transforming the way we think about mental health. In this session, trained Jack Talks speakers will help to raise mental health awareness, shift perspectives, and equip leaders to take action in their communities. Attendees will leave empowered to spark conversations, look out for each other, and help end the silence around mental health.
Workshop 13 - The Power of Art
Nothing taps into our deepest emotions and inspires us more than art. Art has long-standing connections with social justice as artists have played pivotal roles in inspiring movements and even changing society. This workshop will explore the history of art in the context of social justice and challenge participants to understand the important role that art can play in today’s society in the fight against oppression.