Decrease font size Reset font size Increase font size

International conference at OISE to probe racism, colonizing effects on Indigenous peoples

Themes to include Indigeneity, race, reconciliation and more

October 31, 2016


8th Annual Decolonizing Conference

Above, panellist Jacqueline Benn-John at the 8th annual Decolonizing Conference

From Nov. 3-5, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto is hosting its 10th annual Decolonizing Conference, which is bringing together hundreds of researchers and scholars from across the globe to tackle issues involving, “Race, Anti-Racism and Indigeneity: Anti-Colonial Resurgence and Decolonial Resistance.”

Led by OISE’s Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies (CIARS), which is celebrating its 20th year, an unprecedented international presence combined with national scholarly participation makes the three-day conference, the first of its kind in Canada.

The conference also marks the beginning of Indigenous Education Month at the Toronto District School board as well as Treaties Recognition Week in Ontario.

Decolonization ‘not an optional add-on’

“This conference is extremely important,” said Prof. Abigail Bakan, Chair of OISE’s Social Justice Education department. “It is becoming widely recognized that decolonization is not an optional add-on, but is essential to advancing relevant and meaningful theory and practice of education.”

“The scholarship forwarded here, marking the 20th anniversary of the Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies at OISE, promises to have considerable impact particularly in addressing issues of race, anti-racism and indigeneity in Canada and internationally,” she continued.

Exploring TRC calls to action

Among many topics, the conference will foster critical discussions about Indigeneity in a global context. At the same time, researchers will also explore the calls to action of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC).  

While the TRC has heightened awareness of the devastating and ongoing results of residential schools,  scholarly methods used to understand and document both causes and consequences of colonization also need attention. In this regard, the focus of the conference is to re-frame the ways in which anti-racism and critical race studies are tied to questions of Indigeneity, decolonization and vice versa.

“We have an ongoing need to bring together international academics and communities to address and respond to racism and colonialism and to question and improve our own research methods as part of the process,” said CIARS chair, George Dei, one of Canada’s foremost scholars on race and anti-racism studies.

“As we speak about shared struggles, this conference gathering is also an opportunity to examine how collective resistance against the critical challenges facing Indigenous peoples, contemporarily racialized and historically oppressed peoples can be effective,” Dei said.

Keynote speakers include:

Other OISE experts speaking at the conference include Njoki Wane and Nisha Toomey. 

Plenary sessions include:

  • Nov. 3: Anti-Blackness in the Academy and in Activism
  • Nov. 4: Indigeneity as an International Category
  • Nov. 5: Reparations, Reconciliation and ‘the Politics of Memory’

The event also features an impressive spectrum of panels including: 

  • Visions of Policy and Visions of Modernity: Colonialities of Power and the Possibility of Decolonial Struggles
  • Curriculum, Coloniality, and Decolonial Possibilities
  • Anti-Blackness, State Institutions, and Critical Anti-Racist Praxis

On Nov. 2, a unique pre-conference initiative will bring together high school and undergraduate students to share and explore their race and equity-related research interests.

The 2016 Decolonizing Conference is in partnership with U of T’s New College, the Harriet Tubman Institute, and York University.

For more information

Twitter: @Decolonizing16
Facebook: Decolonizing Conference 2016