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Talking treaties, research, and rights

A pair of recent events are furthering Indigeneity and reconciliation on campus through knowledge sharing.

[Queen's University Gazette Indigenous Research Workshop Graduate Studies]
Following the Indigenous Research Workshop talks, attendees broke into groups to discuss specific issues and ideas. (University Relations)

The relationship between settlers and Indigenous Peoples was in focus at Queen’s on Friday and Saturday.

A workshop focused on research collaboration with Indigenous communities was hosted through the day on Friday. The workshop is an initiative of the School of Graduate Studies in collaboration with the Aboriginal Council of Queen's University. The event was focused on creating mutually respectful relationships as the basis for research collaborations between academics and Indigenous communities.

It was followed by the Indigenous Knowledge Symposium, which began Friday night and concluded Saturday evening. It is the twentieth year Queen’s has hosted this symposium, which unites students, faculty, staff, and community members on campus for a discussion about contemporary Indigenous issues. The symposium was hosted by the Office of Indigenous Initiatives.

Friday morning started with a keynote address by Ovide Mercredi, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and was followed by a panel featuring academics and community leaders who have experience in research collaborations.

In the afternoon, workshop participants had an opportunity for group discussion and reflections. Over 100 students, faculty, and community members attended the event.

“A similar event last year taught us that there is a depth of interest at Queen’s in learning about the distinct requirements of research with Indigenous communities,” said Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean in the School of Graduate Studies, who co-chairs the planning group with Marlene Brant Castellano.

A key message throughout the workshop was that, when it comes to doing research with Indigenous communities, the relationship is as important as the research.

[Queen's University Gazette Ovide Mercredi Assembly of First Nations]
Ovide Mercredi. (University Relations)

“We are raised as Indigenous Peoples to solve problems and not just study them, so my experience with research growing up was not positive,” Dr. Mercredi said. “Nowadays, our people are more interested in data to support our negotiations. It cannot be a unilateral decision to study us – it has to benefit us directly and be guided, controlled, and interpreted by us.”

In the evening, as part of the Indigenous Knowledge Symposium, Dave Mowat of Alderville First Nation – located southeast of Peterborough – spoke at the symposium about the displacement of the Mishizaagig – the Missisaugas – from the Bay of Quinte region in 1783. He co-presented alongside Laura Murray of the Department of English and Cultural Studies, who has been researching “The Crawford Purchase” of lands in the Ka’tarohkwi area by the British.

Saturday’s program featured a panel on modern treatymaking, featuring Heather Castleden, Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities at Queen’s, who co-presented with Edward R. Johnson (a Huu-ay-aht citizen) on the “Maa-nulth Treaty”. The panel also four graduate students who spoke to “Treaty Making for Community Engaged Research”.

There was an additional panel later in the day looking at historical perspectives on treatymaking from three Mohawk experts. In the afternoon, attendees heard from Aaron Franks, a senior manager with the First Nations Indigenous Governance Centre, in a talk which looked at treaty education.

[Queen's University Gazette Laurel-Claus Johnson Indigenous Symposium]
Laurel Claus-Johnson spoke at Friday's workshop, and joined the Knowledge Symposium. (Supplied Photo)

“Events like these are an important way to influence long-term institutional change, enhance the support available on campus for Indigenous students and researchers, build stronger relationships with local Indigenous communities, and honour the original inhabitants of the land – the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee,” says Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation).

The symposium was conducted with respect for traditional Indigenous protocols. Indigenous community members and Elders were in attendance as participants and stakeholders, and presentations were in the form of a talking circle. The sessions were moderated with the use of a talking stick and given guidance by Elders.

Approximately 170 students, faculty, staff, and community members took part in Friday's events, while another 63 came to campus on Saturday.

Remembrance restored through labour of love

[Stained-Glass cartoon]
Sharon Wightman, left, and Margaret Bignell, right, have collaborated on the restoration of a stained-glass cartoon created in 1925 by artist Peter Haworth. (University Communications)

Pieced, pasted, and put back together, the ornate and vibrant stained glass cartoon has been a labour of love 16 years in the making for Sharon Wightman.

A volunteer at the Queen’s University Archives and a graduate of the university’s art conservation program, Wightman first came upon the cartoon – basically a blueprint for a stained-glass window – by British-Canadian artist Peter Haworth as she searched a collection of rolls in the basement of Kathleen Ryan Hall in 2002.

[Stained-Glass cartoon]
Following 16 years of work at Queen’s University Archives, this stained-glass memorial window cartoon has been restored. (University Communications)

Haworth had arrived in Canada in 1923 and his first commission was for a stained glass window for what was then known as the Ontario Agricultural University, now the University of Guelph. It was to be a memorial for those killed in the First World War. Before getting to work on the window, Haworth, a veteran himself, first created a actual-sized cartoon of the design. 

The result is finely-detailed, colourful, and stunning.

Created in 1925, the cartoon would later be stored in Haworth’s studio. It would survive a fire and, eventually, be donated to the Queen’s Archives as part of a collection.

Now, more than 90 years after it was created, the cartoon has been brought back to life.

Throughout the process, there have been a number of instances of good fortune, such as finding a missing roll and completing the project just in time for the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

“The interesting part for me is we had the two rolls and we found the missing one downstairs right away. It was the first roll. It was eerie,” Wightman says. “We had the two already laid out and unrolled the third. The lines, where the leading would be, lined up perfectly. We unrolled a bit further and they matched up again. Then we knew we had it, which was quite exciting because there were many rolls downstairs.”

It has been a painstaking process – repairing rips and tears, finding missing pieces and creating in-fills. The back of the completed cartoon is more complex than a jigsaw puzzle.

Providing support throughout the project has been Margaret Bignell, a Queen’s Archives conservator and another graduate of the Queen’s art conservation program.

It’s rewarding to see the project completed, she says.

“I think the artist would be very pleased that it is together again,” says Bignell, who recently retired from Queen’s. “It is a magnificent piece of art and I’m just really happy that people can now appreciate it because it is beautiful.”

With a second lease on life, the cartoon will now be professionally photographed and stored securely by Queen’s University Archives. 

Learn more about the Queen’s University Archives.

Decolonize these walls

A new Indigenous art exhibit at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre comprises four outdoor artworks, and 11 indoor artworks which will appear in January.

  • [Queen's University Soundings Indigenous Art Jeffery Hall]
    Curatorial score for the exhibition is located on Jeffery Hall, adjacent to Agnes Etherington Art Centre. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [Queen's University Soundings Indigenous Art Macintosh-Corry]
    Camille Georgeson-Usher, through, in between oceans, 2018, vinyl transfer on Mackintosh-Corry Hall. (Photo by Tim Forbes)
  • [Queen's University Soundings Indigenous Art Macintosh-Corry]
    Ogimaa Mikana, Never Stuck, 2018, vinyl transfer on Mackintosh-Corry Hall. (Photo by Tim Forbes)

Students, employees, and visitors to campus may have noticed a number of public art displays installed this fall, which are located around Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Jeffery Hall, and Harrison-LeCaine Hall.

The four artworks are part of an exhibition which opens in January at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre called Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts. The exhibition was curated by Dylan Robinson, Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and internationally-renowned Indigenous curator Candice Hopkins. It features newly-commissioned scores, sounds, and performances by Indigenous artists.

“One of the recommendations of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report ‘Yakwanastahentéha Aankenjigemi: Extending the Rafters’ was that Indigenous history and culture become part of the physical make-up of the university,” says Dr. Robinson. “Not only do these artworks respond to this recommendation, but in some cases also ask viewers to reconsider the built environment and colonial architecture of the university.”

Soundings is affiliated with the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts’ concurrent Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts. Visit their website for more details on a diverse array of performances by acclaimed Indigenous artists working across theatre, dance, music, film and performance art.

These outdoor artworks are the first component of Soundings, which features 11 additional new works by Indigenous artists inside the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. When the exhibition opens on Saturday, Jan. 5, it will include video, objects, graphic notation, Indigenous cultural belongings, and written instructions for visitors. Uniquely, each of these new artworks functions as a “score,” yet rather than written in music notation these scores are written symbols, language, and recorded instructions. At different moments during the exhibition, these scores will be activated by musicians, dancers, performers, and members of the public, and gradually fill the gallery and surrounding public spaces with sound, performance, and action.

“The scope, public presence, ambition, urgent cultural currency, and performance-driven character of this exhibition project make Soundings a landmark in Agnes’s program history,” says Jan Allen, Director of the Agnes. “Soundings curators Dr. Robinson and Ms. Hopkins are bringing leading Indigenous artists together around a powerful invitation to express the terms of reconciliation. I’m thrilled to see the results unfolding from this high level of creative exchange.”

Soundings is on view through Sunday, April 7, 2019. Watch for upcoming performances of the works announced in the At Agnes newsletter, and on the gallery’s website.

The presentation of these outdoor artworks is generously supported through the Isabel & Alfred Bader Fund of Bader Philanthropies. 

Extending the rafters

Four Directions completes expansion, fulfilling a Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission task force recommendation.

  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    The entrance to 144 Barrie St. features a Haudenosaunee longhouse aesthetic. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    146 Barrie St., meanwhile, honours Anishinaabe peoples with a circular room for cultural and ceremonial events. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    Four Directions Director Kandice Baptiste, along with past Director Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill) and Dean of Student Affairs Ann Tierney, have been driving forces behind the renovation project. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions library]
    This library, located in 146 Barrie St., is one of many new and refreshed study areas at Four Directions. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions Lauren Winkler]
    Indigenous student and former Queen's Native Students Association president Lauren Winkler provided remarks on behalf of Indigenous students. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    The renovations have opened up more wall space to hang art and other decorations. Ms. Baptiste examines a canvas which features the hand prints of Indigenous students who previously attended Queen's. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    A new addition to the walls of Four Directions will be a canvas containing the advice and well-wishes of attendees to Monday's opening event. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Four Directions]
    In addition, the centre planted a white pine - which carries special significance in Haudenosaunee culture - on the front lawn. A plaque marking the tree will be unveiled at a future date. (University Communications)

A key recommendation of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) task force report became reality on Monday, as the recently renamed Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre opened its newly expanded doors.

In the spring, 146 Barrie – the original home of Four Directions – and neighbouring 144 Barrie Street were stripped down to the plaster. Contractors updated the insides of the two 19th-century homes and, yesterday, the updated interiors were shown off at an open house.

“We are excited to welcome Indigenous students and the campus community to our new renovated space,” says Kandice Baptiste, the centre’s director. “We are thankful to our colleagues in the Division of Students Affairs and our campus partners for their support in bringing this project to life. The doubling of our centre demonstrates Queen’s commitment to our growing Indigenous student population. We trust that the centre will continue to serve as a safe place for Indigenous students and the Queen’s community for many years to come.”

The ground floor of 144 Barrie includes an expanded kitchen and programming space. It has a longhouse aesthetic paying tribute to Haudenosaunee peoples.

146 Barrie, meanwhile, honours Anishinaabe peoples with a circular room for cultural and ceremonial events, along with a library and quiet study rooms for students.

On hand to celebrate the rejuvenated and expanded facility were members of the Aboriginal Council of Queen’s University; members of the local Indigenous communities; Indigenous students, faculty, and staff; and key members of the Queen’s executive team. 

“When we released the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force report, we pledged to do better in our efforts to support Indigenous students,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “The opening of this expanded and revitalized space is an important step, and I am certain Queen’s will build on this momentum and continue to create a more welcoming environment for the Indigenous community.”

The Queen’s TRC task force report which was titled “Extending the Rafters”, called for more space for Indigenous students on campus. Recommendation 13 specifically called on Queen's to "Expand Four Directions [Indigenous] Student Centre and ensure that it is appropriately staffed and resourced to adequately support expanding enrolment of Aboriginal students".

"The recommendation that the Centre be expanded was very much reflective of the needs of Indigenous students," says Lauren Winkler, a student member of the TRC task force. "Four Directions is known as being a "home away from home" for Indigenous students and now there is more space for our community to grow and thrive. Not only do we have more space, but this space was designed with us in mind. Having a space that is reflective of our different cultures really shows us that there is space for us on a campus that often acts as an overwhelming reminder of our colonial histories and present-day realities."

The project was funded by the Division of Student Affairs and also received support from the federal Enabling Accessibility Fund for upgrades that have made both buildings more accessible, including two washrooms and kitchen. 

To learn more about Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, visit www.queensu.ca/fourdirections or visit 144 and 146 Barrie for a tour of their updated home.

Funding available for inclusive initiatives

The Office of the Provost and Vice Principal (Academic) has launched a new program to fund community efforts to build a more inclusive campus.

[Queen's University Isabel Bader Centre Human Rights Festival 2018]
The Isabel Bader Centre's Human Rights Festival was one initiative supported by Inclusive Community funding in 2017-18. (Supplied Photo)

Students, faculty, and staff with ideas that promote inclusivity or foster intercultural connections have a new option for support from the university.

The Inclusive Community Fund was established in 2018 to further these goals within the Queen’s community, and is now accepting applications.

The program began informally during the 2017-18 academic year when the Provost’s Office was approached by various groups on campus seeking support for their diversity and inclusivity-themed efforts. After recognizing the need for and value of this type of fund, the Inclusive Community Fund was turned into a formal program starting in the 2018-19 year.

“A more diverse campus community enhances our academic mission, our student experience, and our research,” says Teri Shearer, Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion). “Having a greater understanding of and appreciation for different cultures is important for our learners and for our staff and faculty. It is my hope that this funding will provide opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff to showcase the best of their ideas and create opportunities for sharing and dialogue.”

Established by a $50,000 annual contribution from the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), any Queen’s student or employee can apply for funding to support an initiative or event that promotes an inclusive Queen’s community. Each project proposal will be evaluated on the extent to which it:

  • promotes a more inter-culturally informed, tolerant, and inclusive campus community
  • is open to the Queen’s and/or broader community
  • enhances the quality of the student or employee experience at Queen’s
  • promotes Queen’s in a positive manner

A group comprising two representatives from Student Affairs, one student representative, one staff representative, and the Deputy Provost (Academic Operations and Inclusion) is responsible for reviewing applications and making decisions.

Last year, several groups received funding during the pilot offering. Among those was the Queen’s Black Academic Society, which organized a first-ever conference focused on the future of black scholarship.

Applications to the Inclusive Community Fund are open year round. To learn more or apply for funding, visit the Inclusive Queen’s website.

Sounds and sights

Matt Rogalsky]
 The Faculty Artist Series starts Sunday, Oct. 14 with the concert ‘Visitations and Revisitations: Matt Rogalsky and Friends’ at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. (Supplied photo)

A highly-versatile composer and sound artist, Matt Rogalsky is well known for his work with a wide range of performers and arts organizations. 

A continuing adjunct assistant professor at the Dan School of Drama and Music, Rogalsky also received one of the first Mayor’s Arts Awards in 2017 for his multifaceted and generous approach to creating music.

Also being hosted at the Isabel is the sound installation 'Discipline' by composer, sound artist and continuing adjunct assistant professor at the Dan School of Drama and Music Matt Rogalsky. (Supplied photo) 

On Sunday, Oct. 14, Rogalsky leads off the Faculty Artist Series with a concert titled: ‘Visitations and Revisitations: Matt Rogalsky and Friends’ at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, starting at 2:30 pm.

In curating the concert, Rogalsky invited Kingston composers and visual artists, Julia Krolik, Owen Fernley, Robert Mulder and Queen’s Music Professor Emeritus Kristi Allik to take part. The end result is a concert that will stimulate both the eyes and ears, using the surround-sound capabilities of the Isabel Concert Hall to full potential. Violinist, Gisèle Dalbec-Szczesniak, and cellist, Jeff Hamacher, will also be featured performers in compositions that integrate live instruments with electroacoustic music.

“My pieces on the ‘Visitations and Revisitations’ programme continue lines of work that seems to inevitably revolve around explorations and honourings of place, people, and memory,” Rogalsky says about the concert. “Two pieces stem from other lines of research which have been ongoing for some years. All the works combine elements of acoustic and electronic sound, where the electronic sound is often derived from underlying acoustic sources which may be revealed or remain unheard.”

Four of the compositions are accompanied by graphical projections by Krolik and Fernley, which respond to sound in real time.

The Isabel has also provided support in presenting Rogalsky’s sound installation “Discipline” in the Art and Media Lab in conjunction with the concert.  The installation features 12 beautiful electric guitars and is accessible during intermission and after the concert and will remain open to the public Oct. 15-19, from 10 am-4 pm.

Tickets are available from the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts.

Celebrating women who have made a difference

The Ban Righ Foundation is honouring a professor posthumously, and an executive director of a local not-for-profit.

A panel comprising three board members, one former board member, and one community member review the nominations and select the recipients of two awards.

The recipients are celebrated at the Ban Righ Foundation Inspiring Women evening at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, and this year’s edition will be held Thursday, Oct. 25. The event is open to the public and includes a talk from Penguin Random House CEO Kristin Cochrane (Arts’94), poets Alyssa Cooper and Linda Stitt, and songs from the Cantabile Women’s Chorus and by musicians Kris and Dee.

The annual “Inspiring Women” awards ceremony brings us together to celebrate women’s accomplishments and recognize the ongoing professional and personal contributions of community members. This year, the Ban Righ Foundation is honoured to recognize the exemplary work of the late Kim Renders and of Mara Shaw. 

The Ban Righ Foundation Mentorship Award recognizes a Queen’s University faculty member who identifies as a woman and has demonstrated mentorship and knowledge-sharing, has supported or continues to support women in achieving their goals, and has inspired a student or students.

The Ban Righ Foundation Leadership Award is given to an individual who identifies as a woman and whose leadership has built capacity and fostered opportunities for others, made positive contributions to the Kingston community, and has been inspirational.

This year’s honorees are Kim Renders, who is receiving the Mentorship Award posthumously, and Mara Shaw, who is receiving the Leadership Award.


Ban Righ Foundation 2018 Mentorship – Kim Renders (posthumous)

[Queen's University Kim Renders]
Kim Renders. (Supplied Photo)

Kim Renders is remembered by her nominators as a theatre pioneer and activist who used her art to address political and social issues. First and foremost she was passionate about inclusion and community theatre. She was keenly aware of the challenges facing female performers and was a role model who fought for more opportunities for women on stage. The award nomination describes her "inspirational qualities as a theatre professional, feminist, and award-winning teacher." Ms. Renders mentored not only students and performers, but her colleagues as well.  Through exceptional mentoring, she also empowered others to make waves and create needed change.

A colleague, Martha Bailey of the Faculty of Law, said “Kim has always provided thoughtful advice on teaching problems. Our subjects are totally different, but her ideas on how to engage and challenge students have helped me tremendously.”

Former students praised Ms. Renders, saying “Kim Renders’ mentorship has been invaluable to me as a student, an emerging artist and as a woman…. As Kim’s student I felt heard, valued, challenged, and inspired to make change.” 


Ban Righ Foundation 2018 Leadership Award – Mara Shaw

[Mara Shaw Bernard Clark Loving Spoonful]
Mara Shaw, Executive Director of The Loving Spoonful. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

Mara Shaw has been Executive Director at Loving Spoonful since 2012. She is a cellist, parent council member, and community activist. The qualities that come through loud and clear in the nomination is that she leads with compassion and encouragement.

Ms. Shaw’s nominator said, “Mara brings passion and boundless energy as a leader, cheerleader, and activist to building a strong and sustainable community.” She is also considered creative and innovative, and has obtained grants for the program and brought many people together for this cause.

“Summing up, Mara is the kind of creative, caring and ethical leader who serves as a role model for others to be caring and ethical in their own right”. “She is constant. Her needle is always pointed in a caring direction.”


To learn more about the Ban Righ Foundation Inspiring Women Event, visit the Queen's University Events Calendar.

Celebrating Queen’s engineers

The Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is putting out the call to its community to make its 125th an anniversary to remember.

[Queen's University Engineering and Applied Science 125 anniversary]
The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science gave out t-shirts and took photos with students, faculty, and staff to mark the kickoff of 125th celebrations. (Supplied Photo)

A year of festivities are underway, marking the impact of Queen’s engineers throughout the faculty’s history.

The earliest incarnation of the Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science began in 1893, and the Faculty has a number of initiatives planned between now and August 2019 to mark the milestone anniversary.

“The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has been delivering a transformational experience to students since 1893, and during this academic year, we are proud to be celebrating that legacy and the community we have built,” says Dr. Kevin Deluzio, who is both Dean of the faculty and a proud alumnus. “We encourage all members of the faculty to join our celebrations and help us commemorate 125 years of renowned spirit and unrivaled excellence.”

The year will include events to honour the past and present contributions of the students, alumni, faculty, and staff, and offer a look at the exciting future of Queen’s Engineering. Highlights for the year include a research symposium, teaching and learning showcase, student design competition, staff celebrations, industry luncheon, and the Queen’s Engineering Excellence: 125th Awards at Fort Henry in March.

Homecoming weekend will provide a great kickoff to the 125th celebrations, as alumni share in the excitement at the Dean’s Homecoming Pancake Breakfast. Student teams, clubs and faculty will be on hand to meet with alumni, share past and present stories, and distribute special 125th items – some alumni will have the chance to win limited edition Engineering socks.

As part of the anniversary year, the faculty is seeking to profile members of the Queen’s Engineering community through its 125th Awards. A call has gone out to all members of the Queen’s Engineering community to suggest alumni and current students who are leading interesting lives and making noteworthy contributions to society. Queen’s Engineering is also looking for names of faculty and staff who have helped educate, guide, and support students through their time at Queen’s or who have gone above and beyond in their work. Nominations close October 22nd.

“The pride of Queen’s Engineering is its people, and we are receiving nominations from around the world and from within our campus,” says Dean Deluzio. “We look forward to sharing these special stories with you over the year.”

In addition, the faculty has unveiled a limited edition 125th Engineering crest. At Homecoming, a special photo wall will feature the new crest, along with all the historic crests, so alumni and current students can snap a picture of themselves and see how their class fits into the faculty’s history.

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University has graduated many tens of thousands of students and consistently ranks as one of Canada’s leading schools for engineering.

To learn more, or nominate someone for an award, visit the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science website.

Honouring courageous women

The federal government unveiled an initiative Tuesday designed to pay tribute to more than 100 Canadian women.

  • [Queen's University Status of Women Maryam Monsef Agnes Etherington Art Centre]
    Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, asks students what they would tell their younger selves. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University QFLIP co-chairs Agnes Etherington Art Centre]
    Queen's Female Leadership in Politics (QFLIP) co-chairs speak with Professor Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Status of Women Maryam Monsef Agnes Etherington Art Centre]
    A panel including Minister Monsef, Professor Goodyear-Grant, peace advocate Alaa Murabit, Cuddles for Cancer founder Faith Dickinson, and military trailblazer Louise Fish. (University Communications)
  • [Queen's University Status of Women Maryam Monsef Agnes Etherington Art Centre]
    Various reporters attended the announcement and discussion session. (University Communications)

They come from coast to coast, from a wide variety of fields and disciplines, and from nearly every decade of our country's more than 150-year history.

They are the Women of Impact in Canada, part of a new initiative unveiled by the Ministry of Status of Women as part of Women’s History Month. Minister Maryam Monsef visited Queen’s on Tuesday to unveil an online gallery which includes photos, stories, and quotes from prominent Canadian women. The gallery inspired the theme for this year’s Women’s History Month, which is “Make an impact”.

“Whether reaching for success in fields as diverse as STEM, the arts, and politics, or paving the way for others as trailblazers and human rights defenders, all the women that we celebrate in the Women of Impact in Canada gallery have something in common: courage,” says Minister Monsef. “Their accomplishments are an inspiration and their stories are a call to action, reminding each of us of the potential we have to make an impact and change the world.”

Minister Monsef also encouraged the dozens present to go online to the Status of Women website to view the gallery, and consider submitting a name for consideration. She noted the gallery will continue to evolve, and hopefully serve as a valuable resource to educators.

The ministry partnered with Queen’s Female Leadership in Politics (QFLIP) student group to host the launch announcement and panel discussion at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Queen’s has connections to 17 of the featured women of impact, including a number of honorary degree recipients.

Later this month, the federal government will recognize International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11, and Persons Day on Oct. 18 – which marks the day when women were included in the legal definition of “persons.”

Read more about this event in this preview article in the Queen's Gazette.

Connecting Queen’s Black alumni

A new alumni chapter and mentorship program for Black alumni and students will launch at Homecoming.  

[Queen's University Yinka Adegbusi Asha Gordon Black Alumni Chapter]
Yinka Adegbusi and Asha Gordon. (Supplied Photo)

When Yinka Adegbusi (Artsci’13) moved to Toronto after graduation, she was surprised by the number of black Queen’s alumni she was running into.

When she was a student, she joined groups like the Queen’s Black Academic Society, but says she did not see a lot of people of colour on campus nor was she aware of some of the black alumni from Queen’s who had gone on to successful careers.

“I was amazed when meeting these people. I thought, ‘You all went to Queen’s? Where were you when I was there?’” says Ms. Adegbusi, who now works for the Ontario Ministry of Education as a data scientist. “This has always been an issue. Current (black) students don’t see themselves at Queen’s.”

So she was enthusiastically on board when Asha Gordon (Artsci’18) approached her to help create a program to encourage Queen’s black alumni to come together, network, and support each other.

Queen’s Black Alumni Chapter (QBAC), created by the chapter's leadership team and co-chaired by Ms. Adegbusi and Ms. Gordon, is launching a kickoff event scheduled for Oct. 20 in Kingston during Homecoming. It will give alumni a chance to network and mingle. There will be a panel discussion featuring four guest speakers who are making a tremendous impact in their communities: Hazel Claxton (Com’83) retired Morneau Shepell EVP and chief human resources officer; Beau Sackey (MBA’12), managing partner of Biltstone Consulting; Curtis Carmichael, (PHE’16), founder of Ride for Promise; and Jeanelle Dundas, (ArtSci'13), a lawyer with Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.

During the event, the chapter's flagship initiative, the QBAC Mentorship Program, will also be launched.

“Race has been an obstacle for many people of colour,” says Ms. Gordon, who received the Agnes Benidickson Tricolour Award earlier this year. “What we can do is turn the story around and make being black an asset and an advantage. There is a lot of work at Queen’s right now in terms of diversity and inclusion, and we want to help on the alumni end.”

Queen’s administration has been trying to develop a more inclusive campus. The Principal’s Implementation Committee on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion’s report was released in 2017 and outlined many initiatives. The university also earmarked $3 million over three years to support existing programs and launch new initiatives related to equity on campus.

Ms. Adegbusi feels there is a need for a black alumni chapter because she knows some people who prefer mentors from the same cultural background who have faced similar challenges.

“I know a few people who tried alumni networking events and felt they could not connect because the mentor did not have the same experiences,” says Ms. Adegbusi.

The chapter is seeking alumni who are successful in their fields to share their experiences and give career advice to younger graduates. It is currently accepting online applications for both mentors and mentees.

Ms. Gordon feels focusing on networking and mentorship will help make QBAC a long-term success.

“In five or 10 years, I’d like people to be able to look at the Queen’s Black Alumni Chapter, see the current members, and be able to pick up the phone or send an email to someone and get the help they need,” says Ms. Gordon. “We never know where things will take (QBAC), but I am looking forward to building something special.”

QBAC is not only for alumni. The organizers are also encouraging black students and faculty members to take part.

For more details about the launch on Saturday, Oct. 20, visit the Homecoming event page. For alumni who can’t attend Homecoming but want to learn more, please visit the QBAC Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

This story originally appeared on the Alumni website.


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