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The 2021-2022 York Circle Lecture Series

Hosted by Dr. Rebecca Pillai Riddell, Academic Chair of The York Circle, this virtual lecture series showcases York's leading faculty members engaging in lively panel discussions and Q&A sessions on key themes related to this year's topic: "Oh Canada! The True North Strong and Free? A historical journey through Canada’s transgressions of individual and community rights."

Not Canadian enough. The realities of race, gender and sexual identity politics in immigration.

Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021 | 10-12pm ET 

Ali Kazimi
Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Arts, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design

Professor Ali Kazimi (pronounced Ka-Zim-E) is a filmmaker, writer, and visual artist whose work deals with race, social justice, migration, history, memory and archive. In 2019 he received the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts, as well as a Doctor of Letters, honoris causa from the University of British Columbia.

Presentation: Systemic legacies of the Komagata Maru and its encounter with White Canada

Systemic legacies of the Komagata Maru and its encounter with White Canada. In 1914, the Komagata Maru, a ship carrying 376 would be immigrants from British India was turned away from Vancouver. The courts ruled that Canada could turn away fellow British subjects based on race. The presentation will connect this historic event with the indefinite incarceration of refugees and migrants that continues to this day.

David A.B. Murray
Professor, School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS)

Drawing on theoretical interests in culture, nationalism, colonialism, representation, performance and queer theory, Professor Murray has conducted fieldwork in the Caribbean, New Zealand and Canada examining sexual and gender minorities and their relations to local, national and transnational social, political and economic forces. 

He is the author of Opacity: Gender, Sexuality, Race and the Problem of Identity in Martinique (Peter Lang 2002), Flaming Souls: Homosexuality, Homophobia and Social Change in Barbados, (University of Toronto Press, 2012) and Real Queer? Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Refugees in the Canadian Refugee Apparatus (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015). He is the editor of Homophobias: Lust and Loathing Across Time and Space (Duke University Press, 2009) and Queering Borders: Language, Sexuality and Migration (John Benjamins Publishing, 2016). Professor Murray is currently engaged in a research project focusing on how people living with HIV/AIDS are navigating 'end of the AIDS' discourses in Toronto, Canada and Bridgetown, Barbados.

Presentation: The Right Way to Be Gay? Canada’s LGBTQ+ bias in refugee and immigration policy.

Canada is viewed as a global leader when it comes to accepting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender refugees, that is, people who are claiming refugee status due to persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) status. However, Professor Murray's ethnographic research with SOGI refugee claimants in Toronto reveals that many struggle to successfully navigate the Canadian refugee determination system, and must learn to tell their stories in a particular way in order to successfully persuade refugee claim adjudicators their claim is true. This leads to the question:  How fair and impartial is our refugee determination process? How and why might this process favour some SOGI claimants over others?  What do these SOGI refugee experiences reveal about the gate-keeping processes of the Canadian nation-state?

Luin Goldring
Professor, Department of Sociology

Luin Goldring is a Professor of Sociology at York University. Her research interests include non-citizenship, citizenship and belonging; differential inclusion; and im/migrants and precarious work. Currently, she is involved in collaborative research on the relationship between precarious immigration trajectories and precarious work, and the experiences of illegalized migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presentation: Being Legal:  Examining Racial Bias in Immigration Decision-Making

How do refugee claimants, those who seek asylum in Canada, fit into the broader picture of Canadian policies regarding refugees, immigrants and temporary workers and residents?  This presentation will use the concept of “precarious legal status trajectories” to unpack and situate refugee claimants, and to consider a question that came up in Professor Goldring's research – namely, how precarious legal status trajectories become racialized and gendered. 

Francophone in Canada: Negotiating minority and majority rights

Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 | 10-12pm ET 

Emily Laxer
Assistant Professor, Sociology, Glendon College

Emily Laxer is Assistant Professor of Sociology at York University’s Glendon College. Her research bridges the sociological study of politics, nationalism, immigration and gender to examine how contests for political power shape the incorporation of ethno-religious minorities in largescale immigration countries. In previous work, Dr. Laxer focused on the impact of party political debates over Islamic religious coverings in circumscribing the boundaries of nationhood in France and Canada (including Québec). As of June 2020, she is principal investigator of the SSHRC Insight Development Grant “Politicians Against the Law: Populist Representations of Rights and Legality in Contemporary Canadian Politics”.

Presentation: When majority values meet minority rights: Québec’s Bill 21

In 2019, Québec’s government cited secularism, the French language, and other national “values” to pass Bill 21, prohibiting certain public sector employees from wearing religious signs on the job. Since then, the bill has been challenged in the courts by groups claiming it infringes fundamental rights and disproportionately targets veiled Muslim women. This presentation will review key debates surrounding Bill 21, assess its impacts for Québec’s Muslim communities, and underscore the pitfalls of advancing majority “values” through minority rights restrictions.

Francis Garon
Associate Professor, Professor, Political Science, Glendon College

Presentation: Obstacles and challenges of Francophone immigrants in the GTA

Canada has two official languages, French and English. Both the federal and the Ontario governments are committed to increase the number of Francophone immigrants in the province, and both are also committed to facilitate their integration. However, numerous obstacles and challenges remain for Francophone immigrants coming to the GTA. This presentation addresses some of these obstacles and challenges through the work of community organizations serving Francophone immigrants in the GTA.

Marcel Martel
Professor, History, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS)

Marcel Martel (F.R.S.C.) is a Professor of History and the holder of the Avie Bennett Historica Canada Chair in Canadian History. A specialist in twentieth-century Canadian history, he has published on nationalism, relations between Quebec and the French-speaking minorities of Canada, public policy and counterculture, moral regulation, deviance, drug use, and RCMP surveillance activities.

Presentation: Where were you on Black Friday in 2018?

The Ford government announced that the Université de l’Ontario français would disappear in November 2018. Franco-Ontarians and their allies forced the provincial government to reverse its decision. However, the battle is not over. French-language colleges and universities in Alberta and New Brunswick face an uncertain future. The presentation will review recent political battles to protect French-language institutions in Canada.

Cycles of inequality and exploitation in nation-building

Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022 | 10-12pm ET

Yvonne Simpson, PhD (ABD)
Critical Disability Studies Program, Faculty of Health Policy Management

Dr. Yvonne Simpson is an experienced professional with a strong history in teaching, research and consulting. She offers leadership, expertise in disability support services, activation of knowledge transfer in delivery of personnel training for enhanced deployment of programs and services within public and private sector organizations. Dr. Simpson is a well-rounded learner centred educator with a track record in utilizing legislative mandates to support effective policies and practices for managing inclusion equity and diversity in academic/classroom settings and the workplace.

Presentation Overview:

Simpson’s presentation invites reflection on the nation’s historical reliance on a transnational colour-coded system of labour force selection, while maintaining a system of exclusion in accounting for those who experience disproportionate levels of injuries and disabilities. Many questions will be explored, including:  How do we learn about who bears the burdens of harms in the nation’s workplaces? What past administrative record keeping practices influence current policies, such that a cycle of deep cuts and un-healing wounds are perpetuated in the messy business of workplace health and safety?

Sylvia Bawa
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

Sylvia Bawa is a global sociologist whose research links globalization, human rights, postcolonial feminism and development theory. With a specific focus on women’s rights and empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. Bawa’s work examines the ways in which historical forces and events shape current political, economic, cultural and social circumstances whilst highlighting the particular contradictory and paradoxical outcomes they produce at national, global and local levels.

Presentation Overview:

In this discussion, we will reflect on the ways in which our lives are intertwined with those of others – strangers – in places that are geographically far away from us. The purpose is to reflect on the following key questions: (1) In what ways are we implicated in the global economic and political arrangements that produce inequality, displacements, and dire poverty for others? (2) What are our ethical responsibilities to others (humans and non-human entities alike) in our global world today?

Célia Romulus
Assistant Professor, Department of International Studies, Glendon College

Célia Romulus is an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Studies at Glendon College. Her research and teaching draws from anti-oppression and anti-racist education, Afro and decolonial feminisms, and explores questions related to the gender and the politics of memory, migrations, citizenship, political violence and interdisciplinary methods. Prior to completing her PhD, Romulus worked as a program director in the areas of gender-based violence in public spaces and in security sector reform for UN Women – the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. She continues to work as a consultant and trainer on questions related to anti-oppression, anti-racism, Black femininities/masculinities, gender mainstreaming in public policies and in development.

Presentation Overview:

This presentation aims to start a conversation on the ways in which race and gender offer specific perspectives to investigate power in the production of memory and history in a globalized world – and more specifically in a Canadian context. We will reflect on critical questions such as: how do we remember events as a nation or a collective? How can we think about memory as a political construct and a site of struggle? How does specific practices of memorialization impact communities?

Indigenous experiences of parenthood in the contemporary world

Saturday, June 4, 2022 | 10-12pm ET

Deborah McGregor
Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice 

Deborah McGregor (Anishinabe), is an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice at York University.  Her research has focused on Indigenous knowledge and legal systems and their various applications in diverse contexts including water and environmental governance, environmental and climate justice, health and environment and sustainability.   

Presentation: Intergenerational Trauma and pathways to Intergenerational Resilience   

Systemic legacies of the Komagata Maru and its encounter with White Canada. In 1914, the Komagata Maru, a ship carrying 376 would be immigrants from British India was turned away from Vancouver. The courts ruled that Canada could turn away fellow British subjects based on race. The presentation will connect this historic event with the indefinite incarceration of refugees and migrants that continues to this day.

Angele Alook
Assistant Professor, School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies  

Angele Alook is an assistant professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. As a member of Bigstone Cree Nation in Treaty 8 territory, her research has mainly focused on the political economy of oil and gas in Alberta. She specializes in Indigenous feminisms, life course approaches, Indigenous research methodologies, cultural identity, and the sociology of family and work. Her dissertation research focused on the school-to-work transitions of young Indigenous adults, specifically the importance of Cree understandings of family, extended family networks, and building healthy family relations in being successful in school and work. With Prof. Deborah McGregor, Osgoode Hall Law School and Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, Angele is co-investigator on the project, “Indigenous Climate Leadership and Self-Determined Futures” funded by York University. Angele is also a member of the Just Powers research team, a SSHRC-funded Insight Grant. Angele is a member of the Just Powers research team, which is a SSHRC-funded Insight Grant. Through the Just Powers project Angele has been able to produce a documentary called Pikopayin: It is broken which features stories on the land with Indigenous traditional land users, environmental officers, and elders. She is directing her research toward a just transition of Alberta’s economy and labour force and the impact climate change has on traditional Treaty 8 territory. She has a forthcoming book (January 2023) with Between the Lines Publishing entitled The End of This World: Climate Justice in so-called Canada, as a co-author she writes about building Indigenous economies of care, and nehiyaw social systems and laws of caring. 

Presentation: Raising children to live a good life and build a caring world by Angele Alook 

Love is revolutionary, bell hooks and Cornel West remind us of this edict, this is especially important to keep in mind when you are raising Black-Indigenous children in so-called Canada where our nation is built on white supremacy, colonialism, capitalism and anti-Black racism. How can we raise children in a good way (miyo-ohpikinâwasowin) to achieve living a good life (miyo-pimatisiwin)? How can we raise good people to resist a nation-state that is against their very existence? How does one parent caring children to be good allies? Are our children the key to Indigenous sovereignty and good stewardship of the land? How can we raise children for a resurgence of Indigenous economies of care? How important are love, caring and joy in creating good lives for our children?   

Nicole Muir
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health, Psychology 

Nicole Muir is a Métis Psychology professor at York University. She recently completed a post-doctoral fellowship from the University of Toronto at Well Living House, an Indigenous research centre. Prof. Muir completed a Master's degree in Clinical Child Psychology followed by a PhD in Forensic Psychology, both at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Prior to graduate school, she worked at an Indigenous child protection agency, an Indigenous health unit (both in Toronto), and as a consultant for children with special needs in the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. Within urban Indigenous populations, Prof. Muir’s research focuses on colonialism, trauma and victimization, foster care involvement, justice system involvement, and violence risk assessment tools. Prof. Muir’s overall aim is to achieve both scientific excellence and Indigenous community relevance by ensuring Indigenous community involvement from research conception to research dissemination.  

Presentation: Colonialism and Indigenous Family Disruption 

Colonialism has, and continues to, disrupt Indigenous families in a myriad of ways and this in turn, negatively affects Indigenous parenting. I will present on the many ways that colonialism breaks up families and will also discuss how my own research fits into the realm of family disruption. I am a Métis researcher who studies Indigenous parenting, Indigenous youth justice involvement, foster care and adverse childhood experiences.   

Ideas for Life, Living and the World Around Us

Since 2009, York Circle has showcased the ideas and research being generated by York University’s community. Topics come from every faculty and have included discussions around gender issues, brain function, mental health, international aid, sports injuries, financial policy and many more evolving subjects. Learn more about our past lectures and the distinguished speakers who presented them, and then sign up to hear about our upcoming presentations.

Join The York Circle! Membership is free! Once you’ve joined, we’ll invite you to each event where you can learn about current research on key topics from York’s professors.

Please note: Current students and faculty of York are not eligible to join The York Circle but can attend as a guest of a registered member.

For more information on The York Circle, call us at (416) 650-8159 or email us at