Congress 2017 was hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario and aimed to address the findings and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, while celebrating the diversity of Canada’s rich history. The conference theme, “The Next 150, On Indigenous Lands” speaks to not only our unique identities as Canadians but all the possibilities that lie ahead for social science and humanities researchers and the communities they hope to serve. The city of Toronto and Ryerson proved to be a welcoming and open setting that invited us to both consider our collective past and the boundless possibilities of the future. Here are a few highlights:
The “Big Thinking” lecture series featured 6 public lectures and advanced forward-thinking ideas and proposals rooted in the vein of social justice. I highly enjoyed the “Five hundred years of building diversity: Canadian citizenship at the future’s edge” session led by former MP Olivia Chow, essayist John Ralston Saul and Anishinaabe scholar Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair. The session discussed Canada’s history through the lenses of inclusion, diversity and citizenship and how we can define and subsequently reach a vision for the country’s next 150 years. The full video of the session can be viewed here: https://www.congress2017.ca/calendar/1001
The Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) and the Canadian Journal of Education (CJE) both celebrated monumental markers at this year’s Congress. CSSE unveiled its sleek new website, which has already proven to be highly interactive and informative. Also, CJE celebrated 40 years of circulation in 2017 and celebrated with a panel presentation featuring leading Canadian education scholars like Carol Campbell (OISE-UT), Thérèse LaFerrière (Laval) and Joel Westheimer (Ottawa). Nicholas Ng-A-Fook (Ottawa) served as the moderator. Check out the 40th Anniversary Capsule Edition of the journal here: http://journals.sfu.ca/cje/index.php/cje-rce/issue/view/114
Finally, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action were addressed with a collaborative panel between the CSSE and the Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE) entitled “Remembering our past, rethinking the next 150 years & beyond.” The panel was premised on the very simple idea that to understand where Canada progresses from here, we must first acknowledge and understand our four hundred year long past of colonization. We simply cannot collaborate and engage our country’s Indigenous communities without doing so. Panel presenters Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg), Lee Maracle (Toronto) and Pamela Palmater (Ryerson) offered thoughtful responses and delivered them with great sensitivity. The session was moderated by Frank Deer (Manitoba).
As citizens and social science researchers encounter the challenges of rapid globalization, big data and disruptive technologies, the conference reminded us that we must embrace these issues head on. Often an onslaught of complex problems can result in people “doubling down” on their most fundamentalist thinking – we must avoid this temptation. As researchers, we owe it to future generations of change makers and active citizens to work outside our comfort zones and attempt to describe the previously indescribable and understand what has mystified others for so long. A record 9,800 attendees expressed their commitment to this cause. The next 150 years of Canada and Canadian education are relying on our collective success.
Congress 2018 will take place in Regina, Saskatchewan at the University of Regina. Looking forward to seeing all of you out West!
Jason Ribeiro, Ph.D. Student and SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholar
University of Calgary, Werklund School of Education