Media Releases

Media release: Ryerson hosting largest ever Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences


9,100 attendees in Toronto May 27 – June 2

TORONTO, May 26, 2017 – With a record-breaking 9,600 registrants, this year’s Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Toronto will be the largest in the event’s 86-year history. Taking place from May 27 to June 2 at Ryerson University, Congress is a meeting of the minds, featuring leading scholars and public figures who will address critical issues facing Canadians.

The Big Thinking lectures at midday all week offer speakers who will present forward-looking research and thinking to stimulate ongoing discussions within the public and broader academic community, underscoring the valuable contributions of the humanities and social sciences to a free and democratic society.

Speakers include award-winning journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Desmond Cole, anthropologist Wade Davis, writer and scholar John Ralston Saul and former Member of Parliament Olivia Chow, among others. All events are presented with simultaneous interpretation between English and French. The public and media are welcome to attend any event in the lineup, free of charge:

Five hundred years of building diversity: Canadian citizenship at the future’s edge
John Ralston Saul, Olivia Chow, and Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair
May 27 - 12:15 - 13:15
TRSM 1-067 – Auditorium
Is Canada built on the ideals of inclusion, diversity and full citizenship? Where did these ideals come from, are we living up to them, and where are they going? Join former Member of Parliament Olivia Chow, award-winning essayist and novelist John Ralston Saul and Anishinaabe scholar and commentator Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair as they explore ideas of belonging and exclusion on the eve of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass
Wade Davis
May 28 - 12:15 - 13:15
TRSM 1-067 – Auditorium
In northern British Columbia in the Sacred Headwaters valley, three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers are born in remarkably close proximity, yet the area has been opened to industrial development. The resounding message of the people is that no amount of gold, copper or coal can compensate for this sacrifice. Join Wade Davis, Professor of Anthropology and BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at The University of British Columbia, for his talk on the struggle that will continue until the entire Sacred Headwaters is protected.

Timeline 150: Québec, Canada, and the weight of history
Jocelyn Létourneau and Andréanne LeBrun
May 29 - 12:15 - 13:15
TRSM 1-067 – Auditorium
What is our understanding of the history of Canada and Québec, and how does this understanding shape our relations and identities? Join Jocelyn Létourneau, Professor of History at Laval University and 2006 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow, and Andréanne LeBrun, doctoral student in history at Sherbrooke University and 2015 Trudeau Scholar, to discuss the diversity of views of the past and the challenges and possibilities that these views carry for the future. This event is sponsored by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Present and Powerful Indigenous Women
Tracey Lindberg, Maatalii Okalik, and Maria Campbell
May 30 - 12:15 - 13:15
TRSM 1-067 – Auditorium
Hear the voices of three path breaking Indigenous women from different generations as they explore wide-ranging issues and challenges for women’s roles in shaping the future of their communities and of Canada:  Métis playwright, Elder in Residence at Athabasca University and author of Halfbreed Maria CampbellTracey Lindberg, Cree author of the novel Birdie and Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa; and President of the National Inuit Youth Council Maatalii Okalik.  

Media in the Age of Terror
Mohamed Fahmy
May 31 - 12:15 - 13:15
TRSM 1-067 – Auditorium
Mohamed Fahmy was Al Jazeera English Bureau Chief in Cairo in 2013 when he was falsely accused of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and imprisoned in the Scorpion maximum security prison for over 430 days. Join this award winning Egyptian-Canadian author and journalist as he discusses how press freedoms and ethics remain threatened, and the role NGOs, academics, and human rights advocates can and must play.

Black Joy: Resistance, Revolution, & Radical Love
Aja Monet and Desmond Cole
June 1 - 12:15 - 13:15
TRSM 1-067 – Auditorium
Black is deeper than a color or identity politic. It is a conceptual approach and perspective on engaging with the world. We live in the nuance beyond binary definitions. How do we expand our narratives versus simply sharing them? Join award-winning performance poet and human rights advocate Aja Monet for a performance and conversation with freelance columnist and activist Desmond Cole.

The Big Thinking series lineup at Congress 2017 is sponsored by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Universities Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


About Big Thinking
Hosted by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the Big Thinking lecture series brings together high-profile speakers who present forward-thinking research, bringing to light the valuable contribution of the humanities and social sciences to a free and democratic society. Big Thinking at Congress is sponsored by Universities Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 86th year, Congress brings together over 70 academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2017 is hosted by Ryerson University. For more information, visit

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit

Media contact and interview requests
Nicola Katz
Communications Manager
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Cell: 613-282-3489