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York University Shows Leadership in Teaching & Research, Equity Issues, and Curriculum Reform During Education Week May 8-12

TORONTO, May 9, 2000 -- During Education Week (May 8-12), York University highlights several examples of its leadership in providing the public with research, resources and outreach which reflect its commitment to promoting equity and excellence. Look for the following at York University this week:

  • 13th annual conference on Equity in the Classroom, Equity in the Curriculum, featuring internationally acclaimed Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Shyam Selvadurai and former Ontario Ombudsman Roberta Jamieson. Thursday evening and Friday, May 11-12, Vari Hall, Lecture Hall A, Keele Campus, 4700 Keele St.

  • Inanna Publications Produces Uniquely Canadian Women's Studies Reader
    Inanna Publications and Education Inc. at York University has published Canadian Woman Studies: an Introductory Reader, creating a uniquely Canadian textbook for beginning students of Women's Studies.

  • Federation of Women Teachers donates 80 years of their history to York U. Archives
    The Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario (FWTAO), one of the country's oldest organizations advocating for women's equality, has donated its records to York University's Archives and Special Collections. For anyone interested in the evolution of the Canadian women's movement or in changes to education policy and practice over the past century, this addition to York's archives is an historical gold mine.

    Equity in the Classroom, Equity in the Curriculum

    What greater testament to the special nature of the Canadian social experiment than the recent rise to national and international prominence of a group of South Asian-Canadian writers, among them, Shyam Selvadurai, a 1989 graduate of York's Fine Arts program, and author of Funny Boy and Cinnamon Gardens.

    Selvadurai will give the opening address at York's 13th annual conference on Equity in the Classroom, Equity in the Curriculum, May 11-12, on the experience of being a "hyphenated Canadian" in creating a unique, artistic voice. The conference is organized by the Centre for Feminist Research at York in cooperation with the district school boards of the Greater Toronto Area, York Region, and Peel, and with sponsorship from the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.

    Equity activist, mediator and former Ontario Ombudsman Roberta Jamieson will open the second day of the conference with an address on the importance of leadership to gaining a commitment to equity in a climate of austere education funding.

    Jamieson has long been active in the promotion of non-adversarial methods of conflict resolution. In 1976, she was the first woman in Canada from a First Nation to obtain a law degree. She has been an international consultant on issues of human rights and ombudsmanship, and is a 1994 recipient of the Order of Canada.

    The conference will address the continuing barriers to equality in the classroom. A wide range of specialists working on issues of race, class, gender, sexual orientation and special needs will offer practical suggestions to teachers and planners in primary and secondary schools, community colleges and universities who are implementing equality and inclusiveness programs in the classroom. For further information, please contact Marlene Richman, Equity Conference Coordinator, (416) 736-2100, ext. 40204, mrichman@yorku.ca.

    Canadian Women's Studies Reader Spans 20 Years of Feminism in Canada

    Inanna Publications and Education Inc. at York has published Canadian Woman Studies: An Introductory Reader, a collection of articles spanning 20 years of the history of feminism and the development of Women's Studies in Canada.

    "It is ironic that in spite of the feminist critique of American domination of Canadian cultural productions, women's studies courses across Canada rely heavily on books written by American scholars and published by American presses," state the editors in their preface to the reader. "This book attempts to correct that injustice." The editors are: Kathryn McPherson, Andrea Medovarski and Frances Beer of York University's School of Women's Studies; Nuzhat Amin and Angela Miles of the University of Toronto; and Goli Rezai-Rashti of the University of Western Ontario.

    The articles have been selected from the journal, Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme, one of the longest running academic feminist magazines in the country, housed at York since 1984. They are organized thematically to reflect the concerns that have been central to feminist inquiry in Canada during the past two decades, beginning with perspectives on contemporary feminist thought, and including: the histories of past strategies for change; analyses of women at work, the economy and class; the impact of public policies on women; issues of race, class and gender; violence and harassment; media stereotypes; the education of women; women's health issues; religious traditions and practices; women writers. The collection serves as both a natural record of the progress of feminist scholarship and activism in Canada and an introductory text to inspire a new generation of feminist thinkers and writers to take up the issues of their time. For further information, contact Luciana Ricciutelli, Editor, Canadian Woman Studies Journal, (416) 736-2100, ext. 30530.

    Federation of Women Teachers donates 80 years of their history to York U. Archives

    One of the first and longest-standing organizations in Canada devoted to achieving workplace equality for women teachers and equal opportunity for women and girls in education, the Federation of Women Teachers' Associations of Ontario (FWTAO) has donated its 80-year recorded history to the Archives and Special Collections at York University.

    The more than 1,500 boxes of records dating from 1918 to 1998 document the federation's victories and defeats in the fight against sexism and racism, its battles for aboriginal education, its efforts in promoting affirmative action policies and practices, its work in identifying the need for aid for abused and battered children, its contributions on behalf of women to achieving equality in the work place, and its struggles to survive as a women's organization. The archival material includes collective bargaining files, grievance and arbitration files, position papers, historic photographs, affirmative action/employment equity files, and film and video recordings -- valuable resource material for research into women's studies, education, labour history, legal studies, Ontario history and political science. The FWTAO is now in the process of winding up, and the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario now represents all teachers in the elementary public schools in the province.

    "Our history, now our public history, through these archives, becomes a public record. Whether used for Women's Studies, Law, Education, or other research, the life, times and decisions made since April 3, 1918 are housed here, are valued here, and will be used to make a difference here," said FWTAO president Marat S”dem-Thompson, in presenting the donation to York.

    The FWTAO was established at a time when starting salaries for women teachers in Toronto were lower than that of post-office charwomen, street sweepers, stock yard labourers and City Hall stenographers. Among the records now on file at York is an April 13, 1919 speech by the federation's first president, Evelyn Johnson, decrying discrimination against women in the profession and demanding equal pay for equal work. "Look at the Board of Directors of the Ontario Educational Association," said Johnson. "Not a woman's name on it! ...and remember, there are 11,359 women teachers and 1,086 men teachers in the Province."

    York University President Dr. Lorna Marsden, a former federation parliamentarian, said York would treasure the material, which she said would likely provide rich fodder for at least 200 graduate theses. For access to this material in York's Archives -- which also houses an extensive collection of the personal papers of Canadian artists and writers, and specializes in the documentation of labour history, social reform and women's studies -- please contact archivist Suzanne Dubeau at (416) 736-5442.


    For further information, please contact:

    Susan Bigelow
    Media Relations
    York University
    (416) 736-2100, ext. 22091


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