Conference Speakers

More speakers and other details, including the conference schedule, will be posted as planning is finalized. Stay tuned for an amazing line up! 

Photo courtesy of Riley Smith/the Coast

Photo courtesy of Riley Smith/the Coast

El Jones - Prison Abolition and Prisoner Support

A poet, activist, community organizer, scholar, teacher, radio host, and journalist, El is well known in the Halifax community as the Poet Laureate of Halifax from 2013 to 2015 and a popular and compelling speaker at events throughout the city, and through her community work, including as Artistic Co-Director of the Word Iz Bond Spoken Word Artist Collective, co-founder of the Centreline Studios/Uniacke Centre for Community Development, and the host of the weekly Youth Now! Radio show on CKDU. El’s reputation is also national and international: she was National Slam Champion at the Canadian Festival of the Spoken Word in 2007 and 2008 and a Fellow of the prestigious Writing Program at University of Iowa in 2015. She has performed her poetry and led workshops on poetry and social justice throughout Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean. El’s current scholarly project is a collaborative prisoner-centered ethnography, “Notes from Prison,” that uses creative scholarship and poetic expression to explore transformative justice. El is also a gifted teacher who has taught at the Mount, as well as at other universities in the region. 


TREYF: A Workshop on Anti-Semitism

Sam and David, creators of TREYF podcast ("a debatably Jewish podcast recorded at CKUT in Montreal on occupied Kanien'kehá:ka territory") will lead us in a discussion on today’s dominant framework for understanding Anti-Semitism in North America. Together we will discuss the failures of this framework and how to work toward better understandings of the ways anti-Jewish marginalization intersects and interacts with other systems of oppression.

The workshop will address 3 main questions: 

What is the dominant framework for understanding Anti-Semitism?

How does this framework fail us and our allies?

How can we bring a more intersectional understanding of Anti-Semitism into our political work?

Christian Peacemaker Team members take part in a counter-protest in defense of Haudenosaunee hunting rights at Short Hills Provincial Park.

Christian Peacemaker Team members take part in a counter-protest in defense of Haudenosaunee hunting rights at Short Hills Provincial Park.

Skills in Counter-Protest and Human Rights Accompaniment

As white supremacy continues to become more overt, so too are counter-demonstrations. These demonstrations can often lead to potentially tense and violent situations. Christian Peacemaker Teams has decades of experience providing accompaniment to people resisting various forms of oppression as well as human rights documentation. CPT does not believe in telling people how to protest, however we provide skills in de-escalation as it can be a way to keep people safe and is a skill all people can use. This workshop will explore practical skills in de-escalation and human rights accompaniment. While providing concrete skills, we will discuss what is de-escalation and when is de-escalation appropriate, as well as skills in by-stander intervention. 

Bio: Rachelle Friesen is the Canada Coordinator for Christian Peacemaker Teams. She is one of the founding members of Solidarity Against Fascism Everywhere (SAFE) in Toronto which seeks to stop white supremacy in the GTA.  Recently, CPT has provided accompaniment work for the Haudenosaunee Right to Hunt in Short Hills Provincial Park. Previously Rachelle spent 5 years in Palestine doing peace and advocacy work. 

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Decolonization in a Time of Official Reconciliation

Led by indigenous organizers and writers, this event will take stock of the opportunities and pitfalls faced by indigenous struggles to decolonize Turtle Island/North America at a time when the Canadian State is engaged in both a continued policy of colonization and official reconciliation.


Education Not Incarceration

A team of youth, students, parents/ caregivers, educators, researchers, journalists, and community organizers in Toronto who have come together to address the school-to-prison pipeline. Recently they successful campaigned to end the presence of police in TDSB schools by ending the School Resources Officer program. 

-Wilfrid Laurier University

-Wilfrid Laurier University

Dr. Laura Mae Lindo - Challenging Racism in Higher Education

Dr. Laura Mae Lindo is the Diversity and Equity Office (DEO) Director at Wilfrid Laurier University. In 2016, the DEO co-hosted the inaugural "e(RACE)r Summit on Race and Racism on Canadian University Campuses". 

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Manifestations of Racism in STEM

This event will feature of a panel of University of Waterloo and Waterloo Region-based speakers with direct student and working experience in STEM fields. The speakers will address different ways racism manifests in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math) from personal experiences with racism from colleagues or fellow students, to the complicity of STEM fields in colonialist environmental racism, to racism as embedded in technology itself. 


Lukayo Faye Estrella - Intersectional Anti-Oppression: Approaches to Action

In this interactive keynote, Lukayo will use anecdotal stories and group work activities to explain oppression, privilege, and how folks can work together so that no one’s left behind. Emphasis will be placed equally on oppression theory (history, logic, and levels) as well as liberation strategies tailored for participants`ongoing or future projects.

-Sassy Socialist Memes

-Sassy Socialist Memes

Trolling Back: A How-To Workshop

Drawing on an intimate knowledge of online gaming and other online communities that have given rise to trolling, as well as years of online organizing experience, this workshop will present a step by step how to guide for challenging white supremacy (and other reactionary ideas) online. 

Ben Clarkson/Briarpatch

Ben Clarkson/Briarpatch

Staying Safe: Lessons, Stories and Experiences of Security Culture and Infiltration

What is security culture? How have organizers been targeted for their political work? What are the dangers or implications of resistance? This workshop uses the stories of organizers who have experienced infiltration and disruption by the state at the Toronto G20 to consider the ways that we can work to create more resilient cultures of resistance. This workshop will introduce the concept of security culture as a set of considerations for movements that are continually being attacked by the state, police and reactionary right elements. In particular this workshop will focus on infiltration as a specific tactic of disruption and repression. Participants are invited to consider how they can have further conversations about risk, solidarity, strategy and support in their own organizing contexts.