March 2010


Niqab: Gender equity or social exclusion?

Christine Overall, Queen’s University
Guest Contributor

Naïma Atef Amed has twice been forced out of government-funded French language classes for new immigrants in Montreal. The reason is that she wears a niqab, a face veil chosen by some Muslim women. As a philosopher, I’m interested in whether the reasons used to defend this action are justified.

Officials first said that wearing the niqab interferes with education. “Pedagogical principles” and...

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The 5 Ls of Mentoring

Minister Faust

Guest Contributor

For this post, we're offering it in audio form - simply click on the link below and listen! Or, if you'd prefer to read, a shortened transcript follows.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

I’ve worked with children and youth for more than 20 years. In that time I’ve been a child care worker, a youth activist, a junior high and high school teacher, a youth leadership coach, and a director of youth community theatre. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in that time, but I’m also happy to have learned a few...

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Mentoring and equity: Women and geography

Bonnie Kaserman, University of British Columbia
Guest Contributor

Once a month I head out from my apartment in the evening, directions to someone’s home usually scrawled on a piece of scrap paper. Each month, a group of women geographers, composed of graduate students, researchers, postdoctoral fellows and faculty, gather in someone’s living room. I am one of these women. We meet in order to discuss our gendered experiences in the discipline, to learn from one another, and to enhance our understanding of academic culture so that we might make positive changes in the academy.  We also laugh.  A lot.

Almost a decade ago, women from the...

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Much ado about mentoring

Malinda Smith, VP Equity

Let’s be audacious and say it: Some of the most innovative – socially innovative – developments in human history have occurred in the social sciences and humanities. I think mentoring is one of them: Mentoring is a social innovation, whose improbable beginnings can be traced to, of all things, a poem. The modern idea of mentoring often is traced back to the figure Mentor who appeared in Homer’s epic poem, Odyssey, over 3,000 years ago.

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Canadian Economics Association responds to SSHRC's program changes

James Brander, President, and Michael Veall, Vice-President On behalf of the Executive Council of the Canadian Economics Association
Guest Contributors

We have reviewed the proposed changes described in the “Briefing on SSHRC’s Renewed Program Architecture” of March 2010. We applaud the SSHRC for seeking to assess and improve its procedures and we recognize that many of the proposed changes will be helpful to the research process. However, we would like to express our concern about two proposed changes.

1.  Research Record. Section V on “Research Grants” indicates an intention to reduce the weight placed on the “capability” of the applicant to 20%. The other...

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International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2010: Racism, anti-racism and the academy

Frances Henry, York University
Guest Contributor

Anti-racist scholars across the country are raising critical issues about the dynamics of racial inequity in the Canadian academy. An increasing literature written largely by racialized and Indigenous scholars questions the persistence of hegemonic whiteness of the university by asking questions such as: Who is represented in the academy? Whose voice is heard and who is ignored?  Whose knowledge counts and whose knowledge is discounted?

More and more...

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Congratulations to Holberg Prize Winner

Canadian humanities researchers have yet again proven their ability to compete internationally, with the Holberg International Memorial Prize being awarded to a Canadian for the second year in a row.  Natalie Zemon Davis from the University of Toronto has won the prestigious $785,000 prize, a portion of which she plans to donate to research libraries, according to the Globe and Mail.

When asked to comment on the prize, Noreen Golfman, president of the Federation stated, “Often it takes validation from outside – whether it's Hollywood or Norway – before we're allowed to celebrate our own. It's a huge deal and a great, great honour in an area that people seem to think of as increasingly marginal.”

This is truly an example of the excellence and innovation inherent in our community.

You can read the full story from the Globe and Mail online...

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Mentoring, gendered work and an academic career

Sarah Wolfe, University of Waterloo and Ailsa Craig, Memorial University
Guest Contributors

Every day begins with an email: ‘Here’s my pact. What are you doing today?’  The messages fly back and forth, halfway across the country. Hardly the conventional model for academic mentorship, but it works for us.

We started chatting through an online community for students finishing dissertations. We are not in the same field – though our research has overlapping concerns – nor are we at the same institution. We have no shared...

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Federation’s VP-Equity receives award

The Federation would like to extend deep congratulations to Malinda S. Smith, vice-president of Equity Issues, on receiving the Anti-Racism Award 2010 (individual category). Awarded by the Centre for Race and Culture (formerly the Northern Alberta Alliance on Race Relations), the Anti-Racism Award recognizes contributions to end racism in Edmonton. The award will be presented as part of the CRC’s gala banquet marking the International Day for the Elimination of Discrimination. Malinda’s work on critical approaches to race, gender and social justice has connected her to the university and beyond. Here at the Federation, she most recently launched the Equity Matters online conversation, consisting of blog posts from academics across Canada exploring current equity issues.

Malinda has also been the driving force behind bringing equity issues to the Congress of the Humanities and Social Science - where she has led the...

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Equitable leadership: A contradiction in terms?

James Ryan, OISE/University of Toronto 
Guest Contributor

Only recently has leadership been associated with equity and social justice.  Even so, some observers continue to be skeptical about the potential of leadership practice to advance the cause of equity and democracy in schools, colleges and universities and the communities that they serve. A few scholars, such as Kathryn Riley and...

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Building a More Prosperous and Just Canada

by Jean-Marc Mangin, Executive Director

Photo courtesy of Ian Muttoo on Flickr

Who are we? Where are we going? How should we get there? How will we transform along the way?  These are the existential questions that continue to preoccupy much of the inquiry done by social scientists, humanists and artists around the world. These were also the key questions for about 200 participants at the 150! Canada Conference at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on March 11-12th.  This gathering was the first big public meeting to begin planning the 150th anniversary of...

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Differential equity: Rocks and other hard places

Donna Palmateer Pennee, University of Western Ontario
Guest Contributor

As a dean and as a researcher and teacher, I have a personal commitment to equity that is focused on not losing ground for those whose rights have improved significantly, while also working to change the demographic of faculty and students.  That means working for equity for those federally designated groups in addition to women whose rights to access have been shortchanged in the academy, and most recently...

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Fedcan on Budget 2010

Ryan Saxby Hill, Media Relations

Photo Courtest of slightly-less-random on Flickr

The federal budget was released last week to much (but seemingly unsustainable) attention from the national press. Generally, the Federation was pleased that SSHRC was supported in the funding announcements and will continue to work with the Federal government to ensure that these announcements are implemented in a way that recognizes the value of our disciplines.

Federation president Noreen Golfman provided the following comments on this year’s budget:

“Viewed within the larger economic context...

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Equity and women of colour: Things are slow to change in the academy

Audrey Kobayashi, Queen's University
Guest Contributor

Women of colour remain severely underrepresented in Canadian academia. Notwithstanding employment equity policies that have been in place for at least two decades in most universities, they are still hired at levels way below their availability in the PhD pool in most disciplines. And those who make it into the hallowed halls consistently report that they experience consistent, debilitating,...

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International Women’s Day 2010: Remembering Four Trailblazing Haitian Feminists

Malinda Smith, Vice-President, Equity

In Haitian Creole there is a proverb that says, “Men anpil, chay pa lau,” which roughly translates as “many hands lighten the load.”  This proverb aptly captures the transnational story of women’s struggles for equity and social justice. It also symbolizes the inclusive approach of four trailblazing Haitian feminists – Myriam Merlet, Myrna Narcisse Theodore, Magalie Marcelin and ...

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Status of Women in Canada on International Women’s Day 2010

Judy Rebick, Ryerson University
Guest Contributor

It is International Women’s Day 2010, forty years after the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.  A generation has passed, my generation.  In some ways, there has been a revolution in the status of women since that time.  When I went to McGill University, just before the hearings of the Royal Commission,  only 30 percent of the undergraduates were women and almost no professors or graduate students.  In four years of study at McGill, I never read a book written by a woman nor had a female professor. Abortion...

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Gender gap and beyond: Are women the key to a Conservative majority?

Elisabeth Gidengil, McGill University
Guest Contributor

The term “gender gap” became a staple of political commentary following the 1980 United States presidential election. In that election, women were much less likely than men to vote for Ronald Reagan. The term is now used to refer to any differences in the political preferences and political behaviour of women and men. Gender gaps are one reason why the Conservatives have still not been able to break out of minority territory. In the 2008 federal election, women were less likely than men to vote Conservative and the five-point difference could well have been enough to deny them a majority....

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Canadian scholars in solidarity with Chile

Malinda S. Smith, vice-president (Equity)

Perhaps the epic poem, La Araucana, said it best:  “Chile, province fertile and marked / in the famed region of Antarctica / by remote nations respected / for its strength, nobility, and power.”

Chile is a land known for its Nobel Prize-winning poets Gabriela Mistral (Lucila Godoy Alayago) and Pablo Neruda, world-renowned novelists including Francisco Núñez de Pineda y Bascuñán, Ariel Dorfman, Isabel Allende and Luis Sepúlveda, painters such as Nemesio Antunez and Roberto Matta, and musicians that include the likes of Inti-Illumani and Quilapayún. We also know it for its resilience, after surviving decades of dictatorship and disappearances.

On 27 February 2010, Chile became known for something else:...

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Unreasonably focusing on reasonable accommodation in Canada?

Jean-François Gaudreault-DesBiens, Université de Montréal
Guest Contributor

Here we go again.  As I write this entry, a new controversy has erupted following a Quebec government’s decision to allow private Chassidic schools to hold classes on weekends and even during the summer.  The idea underlying this decision is to permit these schools to teach both their religion-heavy curriculum, which they already do, and the compulsory subjects prescribed by the department of education (French, history, maths, etc.), which they are barely doing...

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