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While academia is often invoked as an equitable and inclusive space, universities continue to struggle with gendered and racialized inequities in hiring, retention, wage allocation and promotion with universities (Bagilhole, 2002; Baker, 2010; Smith, 2016; Barrett and Barrett, 2011; Fotaki, 2013; Henry et al., 2012; Marbley et al., 2011; Gutierrez et al., 2012). Racialized, queer, gendered and disabled faculty members are more likely to encounter work and income insecurity as sessional or contract instructors (Angel, 2000; Gregory, 2001). Moreover, once hired such groups are less likely to be promoted, and more likely to experience macroaggressions and discrimination in all aspects of their work (Henry and Tator, 2009; James, 2012; Mahrouse 2005; Monture, 2010; Puwar, 2004). These experiences are not limited to faculty; racialized, gendered, queer and disabled students also encounter systematic barriers, discrimination, and alienation within academia. In particular, Indigenous, immigrant, and first generation students often lack suitable mentors, as the faculty composition does not reflect the student demographic.  Furthermore, inadequate funding, Eurocentric curriculum, and discrimination are enacted through uncritical university policies and practices.

In this symposium, scholars working to transform academic spaces will address these often unacknowledged realities, as well as the possibilities for transformation. It is only by critically examining our shortcomings that we can hope to address and overcome them.

Such critical examination and discussion is not just needed for those who occupy academic spaces but will also be relevant for rest of Albertans. For instance, on October 13, 2016, Calgary city made national headlines for being the second worst metropolitan city for women to live in (Calgary Herald, 2016; 660 News, 2016; Globalnews, 2016). The rankings resulted from measurements on women’s access to economic security, personal security, education, health and positions of leadership in each city (McInturff, 2016). Calgary’s 23th ranking out of the 25 cities for the second year in a row is indicative of systematic barriers encountered by women in this city at large. These findings are consistent with an earlier Parkland Institute study (Lahey, 2016) which showed that Alberta has the largest gender income gap in the country – Albertan women make on average $31,100 less than their male colleagues each year.

Event Details

February 10, 2017

9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Lincoln Park Room (J301)


This event is free. Everyone is welcome to attend. Ticket Information

Please go to to reserve your free ticket


Refreshments and lunch are free with your ticket.  


This session was organized by Irene Shankar, PhD., Mary-Lee Mulholland, PhD., Katja Pettinen, PhD., and Pam Jonnson.

For more information, please contact Mary-Lee Mulholland


9:00am             9:30am           Introduction, Welcome by the Dean of Arts, and welcome to Treaty 7 Territory by Steve Kootenay-Jobin

9:30am            10:30am          Keynote: Dr. Malinda S. Smith

10:30am          10:45am          Coffee

10:45am          12:15pm          Plenary I (Wilson, Torres, Dua)

12:15pm          1:15pm            Lunch

1:15pm            2:30pm            Plenary II (Mason, Hunt, Gadamsetti)

2:30pm            2:45pm            Concluding Remarks



Keynote Speaker: Malinda Smith, PhD, Professor, Political Science, University of Alberta


SmithDr. Smith, a full professor of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta, is an intentionally acclaimed scholar and activist. Along with her lengthy and impressive research and publication record on issues of social justice, decolonization and social change, she is also recipient of multiple community engagement awards (such as, CRAC’s Anti-Racism Award, Academic Women’s Association’s Academic Women of the Year Award, and the national Equity Award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers).  During her visit at Mount Royal University, Dr. Smith will be speaking of her findings from her forthcoming book with the University of British Columbia Press, The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities.






Enakshi Dua, PhD, Associate Professor, Women’s Studies, York University

DuaEnakshi Dua is an Associate Professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies at York University. She has published extensively on theorizing racism and anti-racism, the racialized and gendered histories of immigration processes, racism in Canadian Universities, equity policies and anti-racism policies and the racialization of masculinity and femininity. One of her many publications include The Equity Myth: Race, Racialization and Indigeneity in Canadian Universities (with Frances Henry, Audrey Kobayashi, Carl James, Howard Ramos and Malinda Smith). She has more than 30 years of experience in anti-racist work in the community as well as within the academy. She has served as Director of the Centre for Feminist Research, Chair of the CAUT Equity Committee, the co-chair of the Sub-committee to the Joint Committee of the Collective Agreement on Equity, at Queen’s University, as well as the York University Faculty Association’s Equity Officer.





Shifrah Gadamsetti, SAMRU President, Mount Royal University

GadamsettiAs a student at MRU, Ms. Shifrah Gadamsetti was elected President of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) in the 2016-2017 Executive Election. Prior to the election, Ms. Gadamsetti has been an active advocate through various committee and representative roles. She has had a wealth of experience in her time as a student, all focusing on student rights and representation. Ms. Gadamsetti has sat as a Faculty representative on various nursing committees, been previous a clubs’ executive for two years, volunteered on the Vice President, Academic Advisory Committee, sat on the General Faculties Council, and been a member of the Student Governing Board of the SAMRU. She graduated with the Bachelor of Nursing from MRU in 2014, and has since returned for a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a Minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. In addition to being a student, Ms. Gadamsetti is a practicing Registered Nurse, focusing on perioperative and community health. She is also an active volunteer with organizations that focus on marginalized populations, specifically involved with immigrant and at-risk women and youth.



Sarah Hunt, PhD, Assistant Professor, Indigenous Studies, University of British Columbia

HuntDr. Hunt is an Assistant Professor at University of British Columbia in First Nations and Indigenous Studies (part of the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies) and the Department of Geography. She is a Two-Spirit scholar and activist of Kwagiulth (Kwakwaka’wakw) ancestry from Taxis (Fort Rupert) as well as Ukrainian and English settler ancestry. Dr. Hunt’s scholarship in Indigenous and legal geographies critically takes up questions of justice, gender, self-determination, and the spatiality of Indigenous law. Her writing and research emerge within the networks of community relations that have fostered her analysis as a community-based researcher, with a particular focus on issues facing women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. Dr. Hunt served on the UBC Sexual Assault Panel which was tasked with producing a report to guide the development of initiatives to address sexual violence on campus. Her work seeks to understand the roots of rape culture in the context of settler colonialism, as well as to foster consent culture based in principles of Indigenous self-determination.




Corinne L. Mason, PhD, Assistant Professor, Sociology, Brandon University

MasonDr. Mason is an assistant professor in Gender and Women’s Studies and Sociology at Brandon University. As a critical race feminist scholar, her research involves analysis of media representations on LGBTIQ rights, violence against women, reproductive justice and foreign aid. Not only is Dr. Mason a widely published scholar, she is also heavily involved social justice campaigns, such as founding Positive Space at Brandon University and advocating on behalf of sexual assault victims. Dr. Mason recently made national news when she publically spoke about the distressing ways in which Brandon University failed to assist an undergraduate student who was sexually assaulted on campus.






M. Gabriela Torres, PhD, Associate Professor, Anthropology, Wheaton College

TorresDr. Torres an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Wheaton College, MA, is a Guatemalan-born anthropologist that specializes in the study of the violence and state formation. Her most recent publication is co-edited book (with Kersti Yllo), Marital Rape: Consent, Marriage and Social Change in Global Context (Oxford 2016)- a volume funded by the 2012 Wenner Gren Foundation Workshop Grant. At Wheaton College, her teaching focused on Feminist pedagogy and social justice through interdisciplinary connections has twice (2012,2014) been awarded the college-wide faculty appreciation prize. Most recently, she has become a mentor for the POSSE Foundation, an organization that identifies, recruits, supports and trains students from under-represented backgrounds in academe to become scholars and leaders.






Alexandria Wilson, PhD, Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies, University of Saskatchewan

WilsonDr. Alex Wilson is Neyonawak Inniwak from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation. She is an Associate Professor and the Academic Director of the Aboriginal Education Research Centre at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Wilson’s scholarship has greatly contributed to building and sharing knowledge about two spirit identity, history and teachings, Indigenous research methodologies, and the prevention of violence in the lives of Indigenous peoples. Her current projects include two spirit and Indigenous Feminisms research: Two-Spirit identity development and “Coming In” theory that impact pedagogy and educational policy; working with the Aboriginal HIV/AIDS CBR Collaborative Centres National Aboriginal Research Advisory Council; studies on two spirit people and homelessness; and an International study on Education and LGBTQ Indigenous peoples.






This event is sponsored by MRU (Faculty of Arts, Diversity and Human Rights, Student Affairs and Campus Live, Office of the President and Department of Sociology and Anthropology), MRFA and SAMRU.