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Organizing Equality International Conference

  • Museum London 421 Ridout Street North London, ON, N6A 5H4 Canada (map)

An international conference about addressing inequality, was held at Museum London, on the weekend of March 24. The event was hosted by members at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) at Western University. 

The three-day conference featured over a hundred academics, activists, artists, and organizers who presented their work, research, and art among their peers. The speakers featured included Dr. Vandana Shiva, Glen Coulthard (University of British Columbia), The Beehive Design Collective, and Black Lives Matter Toronto, among many others. 

Introductions & Opening Keynote

Nitsitangekwe Liz Akiwenzie performed a land recognition ceremony at the beginning of the Conference to acknowledge the Attawandaron (Neutral) peoples, as well as the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples.

Cameras began rolling Friday morning and continued throughout the weekend until closing remarks, Sunday night. 

Audience members gathered together in the Lecture Hall on Friday morning to listen to the opening Keynote Speaker, Glen Coulthard.

Opening keynote speaker Glen Coulthard spoke on "Fanonian Antinomies", and the work discussed in Red Skin, White Masks.

Kgothatso Mokgele, from the University of Johannesburg, as he gave his talk on the #FeesMustFall movement. 

All weekend, the conference continuously maintained an attentive and engaged audience. 

Western's University Student Council's President, Eddy Avila, was one of the public attendees at the conference who showed up bright and early Friday morning, and continued to attend panels all weekend long. 

Pictured here is Debayudh Chatterjee, from the University of Delhi, who spoke on the caste system in India and "The Aftermath of Rohit Vemula and Left Wing Politics in India".

Adam Kingsmith, as he spoke on masculine performance and Androgyniety. 

Denise Burgher, from the University of Delaware, as she took notes before she began her panel on 'Bringing Nineteenth Century Black Organizing to Digital Life.'

Young and Bold

From Openwide Editor-in-Chief Erica Wallis, to activist Rowa Mohamed, these young adults both listened and partook in the discussion all weekend. 

Dr. Vandana Shiva

On Friday evening, a full audience gathered at the Community Gallery to listen to Indian academic and Western University Alumnus, Dr. Vandana Shiva, on organizing equality within diversity. 

Datejie Green gives a heartfelt welcome to keynote speaker, Dr. Vandana Shiva. 

An excited audience patiently awaits what Dr. Shiva has to say. 

Dr. Vandana Shiva as she gives her keynote speech, Friday night. 

You don’t deal with white supremacy by thinking that every white person is a white supremacist.
— Dr. Vandana Shiva

Organizing Equality Student Coalition

The following excerpt was taken from the Organizing Equality program re: the Organizing Equality Student Coalition (OESC) panel.

"2016-2017 has been a year of heightened tensions. Whether between racialized groups and the state, or between self-proclaimed free speech advocates and marginalized persons fighting for acknowledgement of their identity, students have brought these tensions to a forefront at Western University. The OESC led programming throughout the year to unpack these tensions, fostering courageous discussions between polarized viewpoints and building the capacity of young organizers throughout the process."

From left to right: Mohammed Soufan, Lily Mehari, Sarah Ghassan, Marie Kamukuny, Nancy Xu, Serwaah Phebih, Shahad Rashid, Shervin Xy, and Rowa Mohamed. 

Sarah Ghassan, Western University graduate, and member of the OESC. 

Marie Kamukuny, student at Western University, and member of OESC. 

Black Lives Matter Toronto

Sunday morning saw a significant turnout of public audience members, as they gathered in the community gallery to listen to the Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLMTO) keynote address. Sandy Hudson, BLMTO speaker,  spoke on important issues that the Black community face, including police brutality in Canada and the issues that lie within our borders as well as in the United States. Ravyn Wngz, BLMTO speaker, spoke on the importance of inclusive discussion on issues that affect the Black community — including trans-Black individuals, Black individuals with disabilities, and Black members within the queer community. 

Just because you’re woke in one area, doesn’t mean you can be sleeping in another.
— Ravyn Wngz

Ravyn Wings, of BLMTO. 

Ravyn Wngz looked to Sandy Hudson as she spoke on police brutality. 

Sandy Hudson, of BLMTO, looked up to Ravyn as she answered a question from the audience.

Academics, you need to bring your research back to the communities.
— Sandy Hudson

By Sunday evening, conference-goers were left with a lot to think about in the battle for equality, and the reminder to find ways to stand by each other in solidarity with every aspect. Debayudh Chatterjee summed up the conference best During the closing panel, when he said, "although the language of oppression is different from country to country, the tone of oppression is the same."

Photos © Jenny Jay / The Double Jay Collective

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