Experts to explore status and future of Arctic, northern and Indigenous women

Experts to explore status and future of Arctic, northern and Indigenous women

February 24, 2014


By Communications Staff

Feminist Legal Studies Queen’s (FLSQ) is hosting “Arctic/Northern Women: Situating Law and Justice in Development and Equality,” a ground-breaking, interdisciplinary, and multinational conference on Feb. 28 and March 1 that will bring to campus experts in Indigenous, northern, and Arctic issues from Finland, Sweden, Norway, the U.S. and Canada.

[Patricia Monture] This year's Feminist Legal Studies Queen's conference honours Patricia Monture (Law'88, LLD'09).

Researchers, law practitioners, representatives of non-profits, and policy advocates will examine how their fast-evolving and intersecting fields are shaping contemporary Arctic/northern and Indigenous politics.

“The most important question we will be attempting to answer is how to ensure that women’s voices and experiences – especially those of Indigenous women – are brought into governance processes as laws, policies, budgets, financial resources, land use changes, and social issues are addressed during this period of rapid transformation,” says Queen’s law professor Kathleen Lahey, who is organizing the event with her FLSQ co-director, Queen’s law professor Bita Amani.

The topic is rooted in the law and policy goals of the FLSQ and the conference’s co-sponsor – the Tromso-Umea-Arkhangelsk-Queen’s Network on Gender and Law in the Arctic Region. FLSQ has also collaborated with Queen’s groups including the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre (FDASC), the Faculty of Law, and the Department of Gender Studies.

“I hope attendees will come away from this conference with new knowledge and a resolve to continue the dialogue with others,” says Vanessa McCourt, Aboriginal Advisor, FDASC.

The conference will include two keynote addresses and a number of panels. The first keynote speaker is Eva-Maria Svensson, a law professor at Gothenburg (Sweden) and Tromso (Norway) universities whose visit is supported by the Principal’s Development Fund. She will address the lack of gender equality considerations in the work of regional governance organizations, such as the Arctic Council, making it difficult for women’s interests to be represented in this region. Rauna Kuokkanen of the University of Toronto’s Department of Political Science and Aboriginal Studies Program will deliver the second keynote address, focusing on the impact of Arctic and northern development on Indigenous economies, self-determination, and women’s rights across the circumpolar region.

This year’s conference celebrates the memory of Patricia Monture, a Queen’s alumna (Law ’88) and honorary degree recipient (LLD ’09). Dr. Monture was a distinguished First Nations professor at the University of Saskatchewan and a nationally recognized advocate for Aboriginal communities until her death in 2010. Dr. Lahey says the conference will pay tribute to Dr. Monture’s legacy by exploring the ways that intensifying interest in the Arctic is affecting Indigenous and northern populations.

The conference program is rich in substance on a range of timely and important issues that will continue to define Canadian society, Arctic/northern and indigenous cultures and relations for years to come, notes Dr. Amani. The event continues to be an important part of the FLSQ tradition of celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Inspiring Change.”

“We hope this moment of contemplation and intellectual exchange will indeed inspire necessary and long-overdue change,” says Dr. Amani.

Those interested in attending must register in advance by emailing Melissa Howlett. There is no registration fee for students, those with low income, or volunteers, with a minimum contribution of $10 toward event costs from those who can afford it.

Visit the FLSQ website for more information and to read the conference program.