Discourse & Dynamics: Canadian Women as Public Intellectuals
CONFERENCE 16-18 October 2014
Mount Allison University Sackville, New Brunswick
Author and activist Margaret Atwood’s award-winning works of fiction and non-fiction are read around the world. She has long been a prominent voice on wide-ranging issues of concern to the Canadian public and beyond. Not only is Atwood one of best known Canadian public intellectuals, but since the 1970s she has actively shaped public discourse in a changing technological landscape – recently through the use of social media such as Twitter.
Dionne Brand, Professor of English and University Research Chair at the University of Guelph, is an internationally acclaimed writer and educator whose work struggles to expose persistent poverty, racism, sexism, and injustice. A recipient of many literary awards and honours, she has been described by Adrienne Rich as “a cultural critic of uncompromising courage, an artist in language and ideas, an intellectual conscience for her country.”
Québécois writer Nicole Brossard has been at the forefront of intellectual discourse and the development of feminist and lesbian writing since the 1960s and her work continues to shape new perspectives on women’s experience of the world.
Canadian Inuit Siila Watt-Cloutier is a leader in international discussions about environmental preservation and in the protection of Canada’s North and its peoples.
Jessica Danforth is a leading voice of youth who has inspired Indigenous, LGBT, and feminist activists since the age of 12. As founder and director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, she shares her passionate and critical perspectives on reproductive justice and other social issues with communities, academics, and policymakers alike – including through her involvement with the United Nations.
Journalist, television producer, playwright, and past Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University, Rita Deverell has been working in Canadian theatre, media, and academe for several decades and has been celebrated for her pioneering contributions to the country’s social and cultural development by many organizations, including the Trudeau Foundation, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and the Order of Canada.
Award-winning biographer and historian Charlotte Gray is author of eight non-fiction bestsellers and was recently described as an “intellectual ninja” following her spirited participation in CBC’s Canada Reads 2013.
Shari Graydon, author, journalist, past president of Media Action, and founder of Informed Opinions – an organization which provides critical analysis and action regarding media representations of women – works tirelessly to promote gender equity, cultural literacy for youth, social entrepreneurship, and effectively communication, especially how to engage public audiences in diverse and complex discussions.
Smaro Kamboureli is Avie Bennett Chair in Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto and Director of the TransCanada project. She is a prolific scholar who has spoken and published extensively on the role of Canadian literature in contemporary global politics and culture.
Antonia Maioni is President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Associate Professor in Political Science and the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University. Her insightful contributions regarding health care reform and public policy have extended from academic and popular analysis of Canadian and Quebec politics to participation in transnational policy discussions.
Mi’kmaq lawyer, professor, activist and politician, Pam Palmater is a vocal advocate for Indigenous peoples and communities across Canada. Her leadership has advanced public awareness of social justice in significant ways, most recently as a key spokesperson for the Idle No More movement.
Natalie Panek is an aerospace engineer who has interned at NASA and currently works in robotic operations at MDA Space Missions. CBC profiled her in 2013, at age 28, as one of 12 young leaders changing Canada. She is a passionate advocate for increasing opportunities for young women to enter tech professions along with generating more visibility in the Canadian media for female role models and mentors currently in STEM careers.
Journalist and activist Judy Rebick gained national prominence in the 1990s as a champion of women’s rights and has continued to dedicate her voice to social justice causes across multiple public spheres, including as publisher of the independent news site rabble.ca.
Janice Stein is a world-renowned political scientist who has authored over 80 scholarly publications on global affairs and public policy. She shares her knowledge through regular media appearances and participation in several national and international organizations.
Lori Turnbull is Associate Professor in Political Science and Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University whose important research on Canadian parliamentary governance won the 2012 Donner Prize for best public policy book in Canada and whose commentary also appears regularly in popular print media and academic journals.