TTC mural honours Professor Carl James

Carl James BANNER

The Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC’s) subway system recently became the canvas for a new mural honouring York University Distinguished Research Professor Carl James and his impact on community and racial equity.

The mural – which features an evocative portrait of James – can be viewed at the York University TTC subway station, as well as a bus wrap that’s emblazoned on a TTC vehicle deployed from the Queensway Garage, and at various subway stops across the city. It pays tribute to Professor James’ impactful contributions to education, community and racial equity.

Mya Salau, a third-year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough, was commissioned for the project by AstroSankofa Arts Initiatives, a Canadian organization that describes itself as committed to supporting Black and Indigenous emerging artists in public art and Web3 activities.

Salau’s inspiration for the mural stemmed from her desire to capture the essence of James’ teachings and accomplishments. To create the image, she used acrylic paint on canvas, then had the painting digitized to be displayed on TTC buses and murals. She also incorporated various visual elements to reflect his dedication to educational equality, youth studies, and race and ethnic relations.

“I wanted the artwork to not only celebrate Professor James, but also to serve as a reminder of his profound impact on our community,” Salau explained. “Through this mural, I hope to convey the essence of his teachings and inspire others to continue his legacy of advocacy and social change.”

The mural features a captivating portrait of Professor James adorned with textbook pages, symbolizing knowledge, literature and the power of education. “I also added a futuristic eye lens,” Salau said, “as a lot of his work advocates for future change and improving systems in Canadian society.”

James worked closely with Salau as she shaped the mural over various iterations. “I very much appreciate that Mya was able to share an early version of the painting, and use my comments to develop the final version,” he says. “Her efforts to represent me and my scholarship in the painting reflects her reading of my work.”

Carl James mural
The Carl James mural at York University subway station. (Photo credit: York University’s Faculty of Education.)

That work, in a nutshell, is about addressing systemic inequalities in Canadian education and society.

From his early days as a community organizer to his current role as the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora at York University, James has provided research on race, education and immigration that sheds light on the challenges faced by Black students in the Greater Toronto Area. His investigations have catalyzed significant policy changes, including the end of academic and applied streaming for Grade 9 students in Ontario.

“It is not about research for research’s sake, but to inform action,” James said in a recently published interview.

“Community is often a central feature for those who have been marginalized, and it is through collaboration and advocacy that we can bring about meaningful change.”

The unveiling of the mural on Feb. 24 coincided with Black History Month, a time to celebrate the rich contributions of Black Canadians to society. Alongside other honourees, James was recognized during a TTC subway tour honouring Black Torontonians, showcasing their enduring legacies and contributions to the city.

k2i academy and TDSB engage girls in STEM

young girls doing science

With the goal of encouraging girls to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) pathways and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals ( UN SDGs), the k2i academy – an initiative by York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering – engaged with students at the Young Women on the Move: Possibilities Conference at Runnymede Elementary School, hosted by the Toronto District School Board (TDSB).

Since June 2020, the k2i academy and the TDSB have worked in partnership to foster a variety of programs aimed at breaking down barriers in STEM education. For example, the Bringing STEM to Life: In Schools initiative has brought experiential education to schools across the Greater Toronto Area, and the recently 407 ETR-funded Work Integrated Learning Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Fund will expand STEM offerings to under-represented students throughout the area, too.

The most recent example of the partnership, the Young Women on the Move event, engaged 200 girls from eight different elementary schools through an engineering design challenge – with a focus on the SDG priority on sustainable cities and communities ­– organized by the k2i team.

Mentors and k2i academy staff guided the students through building prototypes of earthquake-resilient structures, underlining the importance of creating inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable urban environments. In the process, they learned about earthquakes, the principles of stable structures, and the iterative process of designing, building and testing their prototypes using shaker testing tables.

This practical, hands-on experience introduced the girls to the engineering design process, emphasizing problem-solving and creativity in addressing real-world issues.

“Through our Possibilities Conference, we wanted to empower young women to see the endless possibilities available to them by building their confidence, breaking down barriers and stereotypes, and encouraging them to explore non-traditional courses of study,” says Lauren Rovas, vice-principal and Possibilities Conference lead organizer, TDSB. 

As a result, the k2i academy and the TDSB continue their shared purpose, and partnership, in encouraging the future of STEM careers being more inclusive.

“As a woman who studied physics, it is important for me to encourage and inspire the next generation of girls to consider STEM career pathways,” says Lisa Cole, director of programming, k2i academy. “k2i is thrilled to partner with TDSB to design and deliver programs that encourage youth to discover their curiosities, develop skills in coding and engineering design, and reach students and families who may not have considered STEM pathways.”

Memorial scholarship advances refugee studies

refugee with suitcase BANNER

For several years now, the Anthony H. Richmond Scholarship, named after the late distinguished professor emeritus at York University, has provided a path for promising graduate student researchers to advance important research in refugee studies.

Richmond, who died in 2017, was an academic known for his commitment to scholarly life, sense of fairness and unwavering advocacy for marginalized communities. A lifelong Quaker, he played a pivotal role in shaping York University’s Department of Sociology and was a founding member of the York Centre for Refugee Studies.

Anthony H. Richmond
Anthony H. Richmond

The scholarship – established in memory of Richmond by his wife, Freda Richmond, a fellow academic – honours his work by awarding $2,000 annually to graduate-level students conducting research at the intersections of forced migration, immigration, resettlement and environmental changes.

Since its inception in 2020, its funded students have been exploring climate justice education and tree planting campaigns near refugee camps. Its recipients have included students like Mara Mahmud, a master of arts candidate in environmental studies, who investigated the impact of climate change on urban development in Dhaka, Bangladesh, exemplifying the scholarship’s global reach and interdisciplinary nature; and Michael De Santi, a master’s student in civil engineering, who utilized artificial neural networks to enhance water quality in refugee settlements, demonstrating the scholarship’s commitment to tangible solutions for displaced populations.

The latest recipient of the Anthony H. Richmond Scholarship, announced in the fall of 2023, is Dheman Abdi, who is currently pursuing a master of arts in political science. Abdi is dedicated to unravelling the complex dynamics between political migration and anthropogenic climate change in the Horn of Africa, underscoring the scholarship’s relevance in addressing pressing global challenges and advancing knowledge in the region.

The recipients follow in the footsteps of Richmond’s career, which spanned decades and continents, and was marked by a relentless pursuit of social justice and scholarly excellence.

Born in England, Richmond was a student at the London School of Economics and later the University of Liverpool, where he began his pioneering research on race relations and immigration. His first job was as a lecturer in social theory in the Department of Social Study at the University of Edinburgh, during which time he published his first book, The Colour Problem (1955). The second edition of this book, published in 1961, included a new chapter on apartheid in South Africa and brought him his first international recognition, stirring considerable controversy. His book was banned in South Africa until the country’s first free elections in 1994.

He relocated to Canada with his family in 1965, where his impact extended beyond academia, influencing Canadian immigration policy and advocating for racial equality.

Richmond’s published work, including his final book, Global Apartheid: Refugees, Racism and the New World Order (1994), continues to resonate with scholars and activists worldwide, and maintains the relevance of his research in today’s increasingly interconnected world. The Anthony H. Richmond Scholarship continues to do that, too.

Anthropology Annual Lecture to focus on impacts of colonialism

World War II Museum luggage

Every year, York University’s Department of Anthropology provides faculty, staff and students with a unique opportunity to meet eminent leaders in the field through its Anthropology Annual Lecture. This year’s event, taking place on April 4, will feature Ghassan Hage, a professor of anthropology and social theory at the University of Melbourne in Australia, presenting a talk titled “The Management of Colonial Luggage.”

Ghassan Hage
Ghassan Hage

The Oxford English Dictionary defines luggage as: suitcases or other bags in which to pack personal belongings for travelling; and past experiences or long-held ideas and opinions perceived as burdensome encumbrances. Each of these definitions belongs to a different dimension of life. An ethnographic investigation of the first – looking at customs and habits of people and their cultures – takes us into what we physically carry and how we carry it as we move from one place to another. The second takes us into the psychological around what we carry with us existentially as we move through life.

In this lecture, which will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. in downtown Toronto (exact location to be provided after registration), Hage will discuss how these two dimensions of life intersect and speak to each other when researching post-colonial culture and the impact of the exploitation of colonized people and their lands.

A prominent anthropologist known for his groundbreaking research on the comparative anthropology of racism, nationalism and multiculturalism, particularly in Australia and the Middle East, Hage has published numerous books and scholarly articles exploring the intersections of power, race and everyday life, shedding light on the experiences of marginalized communities in multicultural societies. His work challenges conventional understandings of identity and belonging, offering nuanced perspectives on issues of race, ethnicity and nationalism.

All members of the York University community are welcome to attend this event. For more information and to register, visit the Eventbrite page.

Government to invest in a new York University School of Medicine

YU School of Medicine banner YFile

The following announcement was issued to the York U community on March 26, 2024. The Government of Ontario has announced that it will be investing in a new York University School of Medicine, giving the University the green light to proceed with its development.

This is a major achievement for all of the York community including its many partners and supporters, and an important milestone for the trajectory that York U has been advancing as an international, comprehensive and research-intensive University committed to a high quality student learning experience and to strengthening the health and well-being of society and the planet.

Dear colleagues,

It is my privilege to be able to share the exciting news that in today’s provincial budget the Government of Ontario announced $9M in start up funding for a new York University School of Medicine. For all of us this reflects a remarkable milestone and opportunity to amplify our positive impact by creating better health equity in the province.

Together with Senate, the Board of Governors, our Faculties and partners we can now move forward on the creation of a first of its kind School of Medicine. We are delighted that the province sees value in our compelling proposal.

The community will be our campus. Founded on a patient-centred, community-based approach, we envision a School that will prepare the next generation of primary care physicians—trained to leverage the most recent digital health technologies and to work collaboratively within inter-professional health care teams at diverse learning sites.

We have been working steadily towards this vision, expanding health and health-related programs in multiple faculties over the last 15 years including the Faculty of Health, establishing an impressive foundation of teaching and research that will inform our plans for the School of Medicine. To enhance access and the diversity of students in health fields, we also intend to offer a two-year bridging pathway for students who may not have considered a career in medicine or health.

We would like to thank the City of Vaughan, a key partner in this initiative. The City has agreed to transfer land to the University to build the School of Medicine within the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct. This is a unique innovation uniting health care providers, teachers and learners with researchers, innovators, and business leaders, together at one site.

This announcement is one of many steps along the path to bring this vision to reality which will involve important processes including with Senate, the Board of Governors, our Faculties and partners. Time and again we have demonstrated our ability to come together and make incredible things happen. I look forward to working with the University community and our supporters as we deliver something exceptional and community-centred that addresses the health care challenges facing our province and makes a real difference in the lives of the people we serve.

Thank you to the Government of Ontario for their confidence in us, and thanks to our many partners who continue to contribute in a multitude of ways. We are ready and eager to meet the challenges ahead and to contribute to a healthier future for all. Please look for updates on next steps as we learn more details about this new funding.

Rhonda L. Lenton
President & Vice Chancellor

For more information about this historic moment, visit News@York.

Le gouvernement investit dans une nouvelle école de médecine à l’Université York

Le message a été diffusé officiellement à la communauté de l’Université York le 26 mars, 2024. Le gouvernement de l’Ontario a annoncé qu’il investira dans la nouvelle École de médecine de l’Université York, donnant ainsi le feu vert pour son développement.

C’est une réalisation majeure pour l’ensemble de la communauté de York, y compris ses nombreux partenaires et alliés. C’est aussi une étape importante dans la trajectoire que l’université a suivie en tant qu’université internationale, polyvalente et à forte intensité de recherche, qui s’engage à offrir aux étudiants une expérience d’apprentissage de grande qualité et à renforcer la santé et le bien-être de la société et de la planète.

Chers collègues, chères collègues,

J’ai le plaisir et le privilège de vous faire part de l’excellente nouvelle, annoncée par gouvernement de l’Ontario dans le cadre du budget provincial d’aujourd’hui, d’un financement de 9 M$ pour une nouvelle École de médecine à l’Université York .Cette décision constitue un jalon important et une occasion d’amplifier notre incidence positive en améliorant l’équité en matière de santé dans la province.

En collaboration avec le Sénat, le Conseil d’administration, nos facultés et nos partenaires, nous pouvons maintenant aller de l’avant dans la création d’une École de médecine unique en son genre. Nous nous réjouissons que la province reconnaisse la valeur de notre proposition engageante.

La communauté sera notre campus. En nous fondant sur une approche communautaire axée sur les patients, nous prévoyons une école qui préparera la prochaine génération de médecins de première ligne. Ces derniers seront formés pour utiliser les technologies de santé numériques les plus récentes et pour travailler en collaboration au sein d’équipes de soins de santé interprofessionnelles sur divers sites d’apprentissage.

Au cours des 15 dernières années, nous avons travaillé sans relâche à la réalisation de cette vision en peaufinant les programmes de santé et liés à la santé dans plusieurs facultés (dont la Faculté de la santé) et en établissant une base impressionnante d’enseignement et de recherche qui inspirera nos plans de l’École de médecine. Afin d’améliorer l’accès et la diversité étudiante dans les domaines de la santé, nous avons également l’intention d’offrir un programme de transition de deux ans aux étudiants et étudiantes qui n’auraient peut-être pas envisagé une carrière en médecine ou en santé.

Nous tenons à remercier la Ville de Vaughan, partenaire clé de cette initiative, qui a accepté de transférer des terrains à l’Université pour construire l’École de médecine dans l’espace de soins de santé de Vaughan. Ce regroupement innovateur et unique en son genre réunit sur un même site des prestataires de soins de santé, des professeurs et des apprenants, ainsi que des chercheurs, des innovateurs et des chefs d’entreprise.

Cette annonce est l’une des nombreuses étapes sur la voie de la concrétisation de cette vision, qui impliquera la mise en place de processus majeurs, notamment avec le Sénat, le Conseil d’administration, nos facultés et nos partenaires. À maintes reprises, nous avons démontré notre capacité à réaliser ensemble des choses incroyables. J’ai hâte de travailler avec la communauté universitaire et nos donateurs pour mettre en place un projet exceptionnel et axé sur la communauté qui répondra aux défis auxquels notre province est confrontée en matière de soins de santé et qui fera changer les choses dans la vie des personnes que nous servons.

Nous remercions le gouvernement de l’Ontario pour la confiance qu’il nous accorde, ainsi que nos nombreux partenaires qui continuent à nous appuyer de multiples façons. Nous sommes enthousiastes à l’idée de relever les défis qui nous attendent et de contribuer à un avenir plus sain pour tout le monde. Nous vous tiendrons au courant des prochaines étapes au fur et à mesure que nous aurons plus de détails sur ce nouveau financement.

Rhonda L. Lenton
Présidente et vice-chancelière

Pour plus d’informations, visitez News@York.

AMPD professor receives prestigious Killam Prize

Celebration,party backgrounds concepts ideas with colorful confetti,streamers on white.Flat lay design

York University Professor Janine Marchessault has been named one of the five recipients of the esteemed 2024 Killam Prize, recognized in the Humanities category, honouring her work in community-based and public art exhibitions, research creation and public outreach.

The Killam Prize celebrates the contributions of Canadian researchers across various disciplines. Each year, five eminent individuals are selected for their remarkable work in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering, with a prize of $100,000 awarded to each recipient. Previous York recipients of the Killam Prize have included Distinguished Research Professors Carl James, Stephen Gill and Ellen Bialystok.  

Janine Marchessault
Janine Marchessault

As a professor in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts and a Tier One Research Chair in Media Arts and Community Engagement, her expertise spans cinema studies, communications studies and contemporary art, positioning her as one of Canada’s foremost scholars in media and art activism.

As part of her ongoing work amplifying marginalized voices and fostering inclusive narratives, she serves as the principal investigator for Archive/Counter-Archive: Activating Moving Image Heritage. The collaborative research initiative, which received a $2.499 million partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) in 2017, involves over 14 community and artist-run archives in Canada that is dedicated to preserving diverse histories from Indigenous, LGBTQ, immigrant and women’s experiences.

Marchessault was also the co-founder of Future Cinema Lab, which explores how new digital storytelling techniques can transform state-of-the-art screens, and the inaugural director of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology Research, a creativity-rooted research centre at York University. In 2012, she was awarded a prestigious Trudeau Fellowship to pursue her curatorial and public art research around sustainable development.

“Dr. Marchessault is a prolific researcher and a recognized global leader in media arts and activism,” said School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng. “The significance of her work is evident not only in her individual academic accomplishments, but also in Marchessault’s sustained commitment to community-engaged work through public art exhibitions, innovative approaches to moving image archives, and excellence in teaching and mentorship of students at the intersections of art, technology and society. She is an exemplary scholar and colleague from whom I continue to learn so much.”

For Marchessault, the prize isn’t so much an acknowledgement of her, as it is the significance of the type of work she does. “It is a recognition of the importance of public history, collective memories, and the need to find innovative voices and places for the exchange and creation of cultural knowledge in order to reimagine the future of the planet,” she says.

“The Killam has over the past several years recognized the role of public media culture (cultural festivals, film history, exhibitions, collective cultural experiences, performance) as vital forms of civic culture – recognizing the ways in which arts, digital media and new technologies have the potential to transform our material understanding of the world around us in an effort to enhance our cultural and civic engagement as Canadians and global citizens.

Read more about Marchessault’s work and achievements on her faculty profile page.

k2i academy engages Black youth in STEM

k2iacademy event participants banner

Through two of its programs, the k2i (kindergarten to industry) academy at York University’s Lassonde School of Engineering has looked to provide Black students in Grades 5 through 12 with exciting, hands-on learning experiences that provide unique opportunities to explore and engage with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

K2i academy Lisa Cole
Lisa Cole

The k2i academy’s Path2STEM and Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in STEM programs look to provide Black youth with access to opportunities that help the academy achieve its aim of breaking systemic barriers and transforming the future of STEM. It aspires to do so by ensuring that Black youth see themselves as integral parts of these fields.

“Our educational systems have deeply rooted inequities that must be addressed,” says Lisa Cole, director of programming at k2i academy. “As we work alongside collaborative partners, including school boards, the Canadian Black Scientists Network (CBSN), faculty, community members and government, we are better able to design programs that create impact by enhancing access to opportunities, resulting in more equitable outcomes for students and families.”

Recently, as part of its Path2STEM and SHSM in STEM programs, the k2i academy sought to advance its goals through a two-day event that invited over 400 students from the Toronto District School Board and Peel District School Board to participate in activities that provided practical STEM skills, as well as highlighted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Each day was dedicated to different grade levels, with students in Grades 5 through 10 participating in the Path2STEM program, and those in Grades 11 and 12 taking part in the SHSM in STEM program.

Students at the Path2STEM and SHSM in STEM events.

Among the activities were hands-on sessions where the k2i academy’s mentor team led students through opportunities to explore engineering design, coding, robotics and 3D design. High-school students also got to take part in a hackathon experience, designed to solve real-world problems in transportation and mobility. The immersive challenge encouraged teamwork and innovation, as students worked to develop solutions for smart roads, the safety of autonomous vehicles and accessibility issues.

The two-day event was also indicative of the k2i academy’s commitment to fostering relationships within the community, such as its relationship with the Peel District School Board.

Students at the Path2STEM and SHSM in STEM events.

“We have developed a Black Student Success Strategy with objectives to integrate the experiences of Black Canadians into the curriculum and inspire and support Black student success,” says Camille Logan, associate director, Peel District School Board. “The k2i Path2STEM and SHSM programs align with this work. Characterized by a deliberate focus on uplifting Black students in STEM and enhancing teacher capabilities, this program has flourished into an excellent partnership with the k2i academy. Together, we are not just addressing gaps, we are laying the foundation for a more diverse and inclusive future in STEM education.”

The Path2STEM and SHSM in STEM programs, and event, are the result of funding from the Ministry of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, which has provided the k2i academy $523,800 over two years to support the Bringing STEM to Life: In Schools SHSM in STEM for Black Youth program. This project, in collaboration with the CBSN, focuses on career pathways, skill development and mentorship, illustrating a collective commitment to building a more inclusive STEM community.

“k2i’s work supports the Black Youth Action Plan’s mission of helping participants develop skills to launch their careers in high-demand sectors and working towards eliminating race-based disparities by dismantling barriers and increasing opportunities for Black children, youth and families across Ontario,” says Michael Ford, minister of citizenship and multiculturalism.

For more information, visit the k2i academy website.

Connected Minds awards inaugural seed grants

connected minds banner

As part of its mission to further socially conscious emerging technologies, Connected Minds: Neural and Machine Systems for a Healthy, Just Society has issued its inaugural round of seed grants to projects overseen by professors at York University and partner Queen’s University.

In an era where artificial intelligence (AI) and technology profoundly shape society, guiding these advancements towards a healthier, more equitable future is crucial.

In that spirit, Connected Minds has now funded six projects spanning diverse research areas, goals and themes, to foster innovative research for societal good. 

The seed funding is part of the $105.7 million York University, in partnership with Queen’s University, received from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, and it looks to further collaborative, transdisciplinary and exploratory research.

Connected Minds is especially committed to inclusivity, equity and community-centred research, reserving at least 20 per cent of its funding awards for Indigenous-led or community-guided projects – something that is reflected in its inaugural round of seed funding.

The York University recipients, and their projects, are:

Rebecca Caines, professor, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design

Rebecca Caines
Rebecca Caines

Caines’ project ­– titled “Towards Socially-Responsible ‘Transfer Learning’: Connecting Artists, Engineers, Neuroscientists and their Partners through Interdisciplinary Knowledge Mobilization” – will look at interdisciplinary collaboration. The project will build on Caines’ existing work, which often investigates the role of art and technology in social justice. It will consider how diverse knowledge bases – across disciplines – can help address societal changes through an emphasis on co-creation, ethical learning transfer and global collaboration. The research aims especially to foster inclusivity and collaboration with equity-deserving groups, particularly Indigenous communities.

Joseph DeSouza, professor, Faculty of Health

Joseph Desouza
Joseph DeSouza

DeSouza’s funded project, “The Intergenerational Healing Power of nêhiyawêwin (the Cree language),” will integrate Indigenous knowledge with neuroscience. Partnering with the organization the nêhiyawak language experience, it will explore what positive impact on holistic health can be observed in individuals who re/learn the Cree language on holistic health. In the process, the research aims to revitalize nêhiyawêwin, restore treaty obligations and foster healing within the nêhiyawak nation.

Michael Kalu, professor, Faculty of Health

Michael Kalu
Michael Kalu

Titled “Bridging Mobility Gaps: Co-designing Culturally Appropriate Mobility AI-Powered Wearable (CAMAiW) Tool for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Older Adults,” Kalu’s initiative aims to advance inclusive wearable devices. The project’s goal is to integrate speed, distance, location tracking and other health/social monitoring features within a single tool. With a commitment to inclusivity and socially ethical technologies, the project will iteratively work with BIPOC communities to co-create and test the device.

Terry Sachlos, professor, Lassonde School of Engineering

Terry Sachlos
Terry Sachlos

Sachlos’s inclusive initiative is titled “Increasing African, Caribbean, and Black Donor Representation in the Canadian Bone Marrow Stem Cell Registry through Community Engagement and Co-creation of Tissue Engineered Bone Marrow to Mitigate Critical Stem Cell Transplant Shortages.” It aims to engage with relevant community organizations and implement innovative biotechnology strategies to help dismantle barriers to health-care access and foster inclusivity towards a more equitable health-care system with a more representative bone marrow stem cell registry.

The Queen’s University recipients, and their projects, are:

Matthew Pan, professor, Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science at Queen’s University

Matthew Pan
Matthew Pan

Pan’s project, “Meta-Physical Theatre: Designing ‘Physical’ Interactions in ‘Virtual’ Reality Live Performances,” looks to enhance virtual reality experiences by integrating physical touch interactions through robotics and smart textiles, aiming to amplify immersivity.

Committed to equity and diversity, the team collaborates with arts organizations focused on racialization to foster inclusivity and develop best practices for cross-cultural sensitivity in virtual interactions.

Qingguo Li, professor, Faculty of Engineering & Applied Science at Queen’s University

Qingguo Li
Qingguo Li

Targeting health-care staff, Li’s project – “Exo-Sensory Augmentation to Reduce Musculoskeletal Injury Risk in Clinical Settings” – aims to mitigate injury risks, enhancing sensory awareness to improve task performance and prevent injuries. With inclusivity as a priority, the project endeavours to develop accessible wearable technology for clinicians of all backgrounds.

The announcement of Connected Minds’ inaugural seed funding marks the latest instance of the project’s ongoing progress throughout its first year – and beyond – which has included onboarding 14 research-enhanced hires, conferences and events, and new leadership with Pina D’Agostino.

Community leaders to discuss off-reserve Indigenous life

Indigenous drums

Update: New information after publication of this article indicates this event has a new moderator. Up-to-date information is listed below.

York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) is hosting its annual Smyth Dialogues event on April 24, featuring three Indigenous community leaders engaging in a panel discussion centred around off-reserve Indigenous life.

Panellists Christa Big Canoe, Jennifer LaFontaine and Sylvia Maracle will visit York University’s Keele Campus for this hybrid event, taking place both in person and via livestream from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The panel will discuss their work and experiences supporting Indigenous people in Canada who live their lives either mostly or entirely off reserve. All York University community members are welcome to attend.

Ruth Green
Ruth Green

This special event will be moderated by Ruth Green, special advisor, LA&PS Indigenous issues. A Q-and-A session will follow the panel discussion.

The Smyth Dialogues is an annual public event series made possible through bequests from the late Delmar Smyth – the inaugural dean of the former Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies at York University – and his late wife, Wanita. The event series reflects the pair’s shared desire to profile ideas that help prevent violence and promote peace, justice and human security.

About the panellists

Big Canoe is an Anishinabek woman, mother and lawyer from Georgina Island First Nation who has been before all levels of court, various tribunals and standing committees providing Indigenous perspective and representation. She took a 2.5-year leave of absence from her role as legal director of Aboriginal Legal Services to be senior and then lead commission counsel to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

LaFontaine is a Ukrainian and Métis woman from Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. For the past two years, she has worked in the City of Toronto’s Indigenous Affairs office and is currently the manager of placekeeping. In this role, she works to increase the visible landscape of Indigenous people in the city, including the street names, public art, murals, storefronts and restaurants, and land for Indigenous community to gather for ceremony and culture.

Maracle (Skonaganleh:ra) is a Two-Spirit Mohawk, Wolf Clan member from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territories who has served as the executive director of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres for over 40 years.

Visit the Smyth Dialogues web page for more information and to register.

York alumnae among Top 25 Women of Influence

Rear view of four diverse women

Three women with affiliations to York University have been recognized in the 2024 Top 25 Women of Influence list for their impact and contributions to driving meaningful progress and to the advancement of women in their respective fields.   

Every year Women of Influence+, a leading global organization dedicated to promoting gender equity in the workplace, announces its list recognizing the achievements and contributions of women who have made significant contributions in their respective fields, driving meaningful progress and change in business and society.

This year, in particular, recipients are recognized for their innovation, leadership and pursuit of gender equity and inclusion.   

“Their accomplishments demonstrate the important role that women play in driving meaningful progress in business and society. Through celebrating their stories, we aim to inspire others to challenge the status quo, paving the way for future generations,” said Rumeet Billan, CEO of Women of Influence+, about the recipients.

Among the list of 2024 recipients are two York alumnae and one honorary degree recipient:

Pamela Farrell (BEd ‘07)  
The founder and executive director of the GROW Community Food Literacy Centre, Canada’s first community food literacy centre, Farrell has sought to provide vulnerable Canadians with access to healthy and culturally relevant foods as well as essential food literacy skills. Her community work has also looked to address health disparities, as well as promote health and social equity. Furthermore, combining her expertise in special education with equity, diversity and inclusion, Farrell looks to play a transformative role in guiding and inspiring the next generation of educators.

Tina Singh (BA ‘04)   
Singh is an occupational therapist, digital content creator and the founder of Bold Helmets, which creates helmets to fit over Sikh kids’ head coverings. As a mother and therapist working in the areas of head and brain injuries, Singh understood the importance of helmets but was unable to find any suitable for her children, leading her to create the first safety-certified, multi-sport helmet for Sikh children.  

Lynn Posluns (LLD [Hon.] ‘19)  
Posluns is the founder, president and CEO of Women’s Brain Health Initiative, the only organization dedicated to protecting the brain health of women, caregivers and families. Through this initiative, she has raised awareness of women’s cognitive brain health and the inequity in women’s brain aging research, funding and preventative health programs.