Congress 2018 brought education stakeholders from across the country (and beyond) to the University of Regina under the banner of “gathering diversities.” The theme honours Regina (and its original name, Wascana, or oskana kâ-asastêki) and its history as a traditional place of gathering for a multitude of Plains cultures. For many first-time visitors to the city, including myself, this history was on full display. Over 5,000 attendees participated in a number of academic, cultural, Big Thinking, and reconciliation events that encouraged us to share ideas and engage in conversations that matter to Canadians and their communities. Congress 2018 was the largest conference in Regina’s history! Here are a few standout moments experienced during my time in Regina:
Women at Centre Stage
For the first time, the Big Thinking lecture series featured 6 leading female thought leaders. By unpacking topics such as the entanglements of war and society to female leadership in politics, the Big Thinking sessions were insightful and provocative. They served as a reminder that we can never be too comfortable with our current societal norms and need to keep questioning and challenging the preconceptions that surround the major issues of our time. For those who are interested, the full video lectures for 5 of the 6 speakers can be found here: https://www.congress2018.ca/program/big-thinking
The Future of Work and Society
As societies wrestle with preparing young people (and even mid-career employees) for the changing future of work, Congress 2018 introduced steps to prepare its researchers for this new era. The Career Corner offered a series of 17 professional development workshops aimed at helping academics generate the requisite knowledge mobilization/translation skills needed to increase research impact. In the Information Age, research will continue to play an increasing role in creating both economic and social value for communities. That is why it was so heartening to watch the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities announce at Congress that $158.4 million is being allocated for 808 research projects across Canada. You can find information about the announcement here: https://www.uregina.ca/external/communications/feature-stories/current/2018/05-28.html
Building on the amazing work of Congress 2017, where sessions directly addressed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, Congress 2018 offered more than 40 reconciliation-themed events. CSSE’s role in fostering reconciliation was on full display as AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde spoke of education as the key to reconciliation in his keynote. We cannot in good conscience claim success in fostering improved relations with our Indigenous brothers and sisters until we address the enormous inequities in our education system. Our work must begin now.
The local, regional, and national organizers of this event should be very proud of their hard work. More than 4,000 academic papers were presented across 66 professional associations. The University of British Columbia in Vancouver is hosting next year’s Congress from June 1 to 7, 2019. The theme for Congress 2019 is “Circles of Conversation”. Hope to see you all there!
SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholar
Mitacs Globalink Scholar