Highlights from the 2012 Equity, Engagement, Teaching and Learning conference

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Highlights from the 2012 Equity, Engagement, Teaching and Learning conference

Published on March 21 2012

Developing equitable institutions is a complex endeavor and individuals doing this work face multiple challenges. The Equity, Engagement, Teaching and Learning conference, held on February 28th at Brock University's St. Catharines campus, offered opportunities for educators, students, and academics to engage in dialogues with leading researchers, practitioners and advocates about effective approaches to equity and engagement and how to build sustainable social justice networks and practices.

“Our research shows that educators who are involved in equity often feel alone,” said Denise Armstrong, associate professor in the Faculty of Education and a conference organizer. “There’s often resistance in schools to people who are committed to it, particularly if they’re challenging the system. We want to provide a safe space for people to create sustainable networks.”

We are delighted to share some of the highlights of this year's conference.


Over 130 Participants
14 Student Facilitators
24 Student Volunteers

20 Institutions
8 District School Boards (Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic DSB, District School Board of Niagara, Grand Erie DSB, Halton Catholic DSB, Hamilton Wentworth DSB, Niagara Catholic DSB, Peel DSB, Waterloo DSB)

7 Community Organizations

  • African Canadian Association of Waterloo Region
  • Niagara Regional Native Centre
  • Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
  • PFLAG Canada
  • Roots African Caribbean Society
  • Transgender Niagara
  • Welland Heritage Council & Multicultural Centre

3 Governmental Institutions

  • Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario
  • Ministry of Education
  • Service Canada

Colleges & Universities

  • Niagara College
  • Brock University


  • Dean’s Discretionary Fund, Faculty of Education, Brock University
  • BUFA Social Justice Committee, Brock University
  • Office of Human Rights and Equity Services, Brock University
  • Social Justice and Equity Studies Program, Brock University
  • Knowledge Network for Applied Educational Research, KNAER, Ontario Ministry of Education

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Heidi Mirza, University of London: Equity, Engagement and Education: The Intersection of Race, Class, and Gender in Britain
  • Professor Gerardo Lopez, Loyola University: The Politics of Immigration in the US: Denying Equity and Engagement in a Changing Socioeconomic Landscape
  • Professor Ali A. Abdi, University of Alberta, Social Justice and Educational Equity: Canadian Teachers Engaging African Immigrant and Refugee Students


  • Jennifer Brant, Brock University; Dr. Margot Francis, Brock University; Jennifer Tye, District
  • School Board of Niagara; Ami Williaume, Peel DSB; Paul Beaudette, Hamilton-
  • Wentworth Catholic DSB; Vamba Kanneh, Community Leader, Waterloo; Edwin Laryea,
  • Waterloo District School Board; Catherine Longboat, Brock University; Kelly McDonnell,
  • District School Board of Niagara; Richard Ndayizigamiye, Brock University


  • Dr. Dolana Mogadime, Brock University
  • Marla Portfilio, Brock University

Conference Organizing Committee
Denise Armstrong (Chair), Cathy Hands, Julian Kitchen, Tamari Kitossa, Rubinder Minhas, Joyce Mgombelo, Dolana Mogadime, Perez Oyugi, Marla Portfilio, Snezana Ratkovic (Conference Coordinator), Camille Rutherford, Leanne Taylor, Susan Tilley, Ellyse Winter, Herman Yu

Participant Comments

Most successful aspect of the conference:

Congratulations for an excellent conference. Your student volunteers were extremely helpful. Please extend our appreciation to them for their hard work.
Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Brock Equity Conference.

• I'm just home from the conference, and wanted to send along a word of congratulations.
Today was a good day. Lots of opportunities for conversations, connections, learning...

• It was a very reflective day for me as an educator.

• Well organized. Support from facilitators was valued.

• Excellent intellectual dialogue.

• Meaningful discussions with participants from different sectors.

• Enjoyed the work group discussions. Allowed everyone a voice.

• Loved loved loved [High School] student voice – needs to be more as a consideration for next time- their experiences and realities can truly help to affect change.

Professor Ali A. Abdi
Keynote speaker and FOE Distinguished Speaker

Professor Ali A. Abdi, University of Alberta, Social Justice and Educational Equity: Canadian Teachers Engaging African Immigrant and Refugee Students