Nirosha Balakumar is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Queen’s University, pursuing a major in Global Development and a minor in Gender Studies. Last year, she also had the opportunity to specialize in International Law and Politics at the Bader International Study Centre in East Sussex, England. Nirosha has a strong passion for human rights and social justice and is an active advocate both on and off campus. She strives to educate, empower and engage others in the conversation by raising awareness and fostering environments for constructive dialogue. As a minority student leader on campus Nirosha has diligently strived to create a safer and more welcoming campus for students of colour at Queen’s, while putting into question the institutional racism that is present. Nirosha is also a spoken word artist and has performed internationally for audiences as large as 2000 people in environments ranging from high school students, to mayors and UN officials. She uses her art as a platform to provide a voice and educate others on the pressing social issues of our society. Her hope is to help reach and communicate her message of education and empowerment to the youth of this generation in a way that is accessible and engaging.
Mia Berloni is a fourth year Environmental Science student at Queen’s. Mia is currently serving as this year’s Manager of the Peer Support Centre (PSC). Her work involves maintaining the PSC, as well as working on initiatives that bring awareness to the Queen’s student body about topics such as mental health, self-care, and general wellness. When Mia is not at work or school she enjoys listening intently to the Hamilton sound track while cooking meals with her friends.
Kandice Baptiste is Mohawk from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and holds a Bachelor of Arts: History from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Kandice was selected by the United States Consulate in Toronto as one of five Canadians to participate in the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). As a guest of the US State Department, Kandice toured four states exploring higher education systems and policies to learn best practices and innovations.
In 2016 at the Council of Ontario Universities, Kandice launched a Strategic Indigenous Communications Campaign, “Let’s Take Our Future Further.” The campaign combats negative stereotypes of Indigenous peoples, to a diversity of audiences, by highlighting the achievements of Indigenous learners at Ontario universities and their contributions to Ontario’s communities. Currently, Kandice is the Director, Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre at Queen’s University. She has also been elected by her peers to serve as the Co-Chair of the Reference Group on Aboriginal Education at the Council of Ontario Universities.
Adnan A. Husain is Associate Professor of the Medieval Mediterranean and Islamic World in the Department of History at Queen’s University and Director of the Muslim Societies-Global Perspectives (MSGP) project (www.queensu.ca/msgp). His research and teaching focuses on cross-cultural and inter-religious histories of interaction and exchange among Muslims, Christians and Jews between 1000-1500CE. He recently co-taught a course on the history of Islamophobia and its intersections with other forms of religious and racial prejudice, the subject of a synthetic study he is currently researching. At Queen’s he has served as Director of Diversity and Equity Projects in the Office of the Provost and is a past Chair of the Senate Educational Equity Committee.
Tim Yearington is an Algonquin-‐Métis Knowledge Keeper within the Office of Indigenous Initiatives at Queen’s. Tim is a public speaker, presenter and a published author. His first book, That Native Thing: Exploring the Medicine Wheel, was published in 2010 by Borealis Press in Ottawa. His second book, Quest for the Thunderbird Nest – Returning to Algonquin Spirituality, will be released soon in 2019. In addition to being a knowledge keeper and writer, Tim is also an artist and an avid wilderness explorer. On foot, on snowshoes and by canoe he spends much time with his family outside “on the land” with the manitous and his Algonquin ancestors.
Tianna Edwards grew up in Kingston, Ontario and moved away for 10 years to complete her post-secondary education and begin her career as a journalist. She currently works as the Officer of Direct Response Appeals in the Office of Advancement at Queen’s. She plans to complete her Masters in Cultural Studies, part time beginning in the fall of 2018. She has a BA degree (Hons) in Media Studies as well as a diploma in Journalism from the University of Guelph Humber. Her undergrad thesis studied the misrepresentation of black culture through black media. Her research interests are race and space and representation. For her Masters, she plans to focus on Kingston’s inclusivity policies as they relate to cities of similar size and demographic.
Curtis Carmichael completed his BPHE at Queen’s University in 2016 and B.Ed. in Technology from UOIT in 2017. During his time at Queen’s Curtis was a member of the varsity football team and spent most of his time within the Kingston community volunteering at an adult drop in centre for those living on the margins.
In 2017, Curtis left a path towards a professional sport career in the CFL to cycle across Canada to challenge Canadians on their perceptions of racialized youth growing up in marginalized communities. His nationwide impact and grassroots movement is featured in the award-winning documentary Ride for Promise. Now as an educator, speaker, and racial justice advocate, Curtis has delivered presentations across Canada and has appeared on City News, Global News, and CBC National.
Raised in a low-income Scarborough neighborhood east of Toronto, Curtis grew up in a system that consistently failed his community. Facing immense challenges and systemic barriers, Curtis felt the weight of poverty, crime, urban decay, and poor academic performance. Today, as a respected community leader, Curtis has received several awards spanning the community, academic, and athletic spheres, including the prestigious USPORTS National Russ Jackson Award.
Dr. Lee Airton is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies in Education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. In 2012, Lee founded They Is My Pronoun, a Q+A-based blog about gender-neutral pronoun usage and user support with over 30,000 unique visitors in 2017 alone. They are also the founder of the No Big Deal Campaign, a national social media initiative that helps people show support for transgender peoples’ right to have their pronouns used. In recognition of their advocacy work, Lee received a 2017 Youth Role Model of the Year Award from the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Lee’s first book, Gender – Your Guide: A Gender-Friendly Primer on What to Know, What to Say and What to Do in the New Gender Culture offers practical steps for welcoming gender diversity in all areas of everyday life, is available from Adams Media (An Imprint of Simon & Schuster).