Brock to host Niagara Social Justice Forum Feb. 1

A day full of engaging and informative workshops and conversations will take place at the 11th annual Niagara Social Justice Forum hosted at Brock University on Saturday, Feb. 1.

Pass the Mic! A day of workshops and conversation will kick off at 9 a.m., continuing a decade-long legacy of community-friendly, free workshops that enhance people’s understandings of various social justice topics and issues.

This year, participants can attend up to three of the 12 available workshops on topics that range from building activist networks to engaging in positive acts of resistance.

At the end of the day, workshop presenters will gather on stage to share their key insights in a final roundtable session facilitated by Karl Dockstader and Sean VanderKlis of the One Dish, One Mic podcast.

“The message this year will focus on those invisible and marginalized in society having their voices heard with the overarching theme of passing the mic,” explains Violetta Clitheroe, a part-time master’s student in the Social Justice and Equity Studies program and member of the organizing committee.

“Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in the final plenary co-hosted by the popular One Dish, One Mic podcasters who will ‘pass the mic’ to anyone who wishes to share their thoughts on the day’s most important takeaways.”

Mary-Beth Raddon, Graduate Program Director of the master’s in Social Justice and Equity Studies, emphasizes that everyone is welcome to attend and that no previous experience with activism is needed to fully participate.

“The event brings together passionate people to teach each other in engaging ways,” says Raddon. “Even seasoned activists and professors experience new ideas and political awakenings through these conversations.”

The Forum has traditionally been a project of the master’s in Social Justice and Equity Studies, relying on students in the program to organize all aspects of the day’s events.

Raddon notes that “the event would not be possible without the creativity and work of 14 graduate student organizers who have stayed after class since September to organize each aspect of the day.”

Master’s student Tayler Shannon says she’s learned invaluable lessons in being part of the planning committee this year.

“As a graduate student in the master’s in Social Justice and Equity Studies, I feel like this event helps me to put theoretical understandings together with practical applications of social justice,” says Shannon. “As a member of the planning committee, it allows me to develop and practice skills that may be useful in future careers.”

Elli Manzella, also in her first year of the master’s in Social Justice and Equity Studies, realized that she had event planning skills that could be put to good use by joining the organizing committee.

With the event just around the corner, she looks forward to seeing what Forum participants will take away from their experiences, hoping that “it will help make people aware of issues that are happening locally and provide community members with some of the tools to go out and make changes that are needed to better people’s lives.”

The organizing committee includes master’s students Violetta Clitheroe, Nicky Marquette, Tayler Shannon, Onika Forde, Phoebe Samuelson, Jessica Falk, Jasmine Mehta, Zabrina Downton, Elvia Lopez, Hunza Chaudhury, Sana Shah, Elli Manzella, Sarah Morningstar and Michelle Mudge, along with faculty members Mary-Beth Raddon and Robyn Bourgeois.

Free registration for the Niagara Social Justice Forum is now open online and includes free workshops, lunch, parking and childminding. The full workshop schedule is available online for review.

The Niagara Social Justice Forum is organized by the master’s in Social Justice and Equity Studies and cosponsored by the Social Justice Research Institute, the Office of Human Rights and Equity, the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Rights, Equity and Decolonization, and the Student Justice Centre.

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