Ninth annual Niagara Social Justice Forum happening Saturday

Building solidarities is the theme of the ninth annual Niagara Social Justice Forum happening Saturday at Brock University.

The event will bring together 30 community organizations along with scholars, activists and citizens for a day of sharing knowledge and building relationships.

The MA Program in Social Justice and Equity Studies and the Social Justice Research Institute will host the annual event, planned by graduate students and faculty members.

“Students in the SJES program are always looking outward in an attempt to create tangible impacts within our communities,” explains Carissa Taylor, currently pursuing her degree in the program. “The Niagara Social Justice Forum gives us the opportunity to focus our passion for social justice into an event that will leave a lasting impression on the community, even if we ourselves do not stay here after graduation.”

More than 200 people are expected to attend the forum.

“People return from year to year because they value the chance to learn about social justice issues and connect with others in a festive atmosphere,” says Mary-Beth Raddon, Graduate Program Director in the MA in Social Justice and Equity Studies.

Among those returning this year are three graduates of the MA in Social Justice and Equity Studies—Cristina Murano, Tomee Sojourner, and Jodielynn Harrison—who will each run one of the Forum’s 12 workshops.

On Feb. 3, in the lead-up to the main event, the Forum will co-sponsor a screening of Avi Lewis’s new documentary, This Changes Everything, at the Brock University Film Series (BUFS).

Check out the full schedule for Saturday’s forum here.

The Forum ends with a screening of Guswenta: Renewing the Two Row Wampum, a short documentary by Gwendolen Cates that “aims to inspire people, indigenous and non-native, to consider our collective responsibility to sharing territory 400 years after the Two Row Wampum Treaty was first created,” according to the film’s web site. The screening starts at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The screening will be followed by a panel presentation by several Indigenous (Six Nations) and non-Indigenous participants.

“Overall this event aims to reflect on how Indigenous and non-Indigenous people can build partnerships to recognize, renew and re-create Indigenous cultural and environmental knowledge,” explains Margot Francis, a professor in Sociology and member of the organizing committee.

The panel presentation is of particular interest to Taylor. “The focus on Indigenous people is significant given the recommendations following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s findings. Talking about Aboriginal issues in such an accessible space is really central given the work that needs to be done to recognize the lasting effects of colonization in Canada.“

This is a free event, but registration is required. Registration includes free parking, lunch and childcare.

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