Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Next Generation Lecture Series focuses on Reckonings & Re-Imaginings

Scott Library Atrium

By Elaine Smith

A new lecture series that lines up with the Congress 2023 theme Reckonings & Re-Imaginings is set to feature four thought-provoking talks from early career, pre-tenure researchers at York.

Assistant Professors – Desirée de Jesus of communication & media studies; Kinnon MacKinnon of the School of Social Work; Yvonne Su of equity studies; and Cary Wu of sociology – will each spend four to six minutes showcasing their work on a digital kiosk in the Scott Library.

“These are snapshots,” said Ravi de Costa, LA&PS associate dean, research & graduate studies. “Each researcher’s video features one particular story from their work and offers a window into their larger research program, representing their field, and the methods and questions they ask.

“And when you take all four together, even though they are addressing different subjects, it shows what we mean when we say York is committed to social justice, to equity, diversity and inclusion.”

Research by de Jesus focuses on how Black Canadian girls develop a sense of cultural belonging; MacKinnon draws attention to the growing phenomenon of gender detransition and what that means in terms of our understanding of gender and care. Su explores the challenges, such as homophobia and gender violence, that LGBTQ+ asylum seekers experience in the Global South, while Wu considers how high inflation is a critical determinant of health and health inequality.

There will also be a visible QR code within the kiosk display that takes viewers to a website featuring more in-depth information about the faculty members’ individual research.

“York has such creative depth and expertise in the social sciences and humanities, so this is a moment of celebration and recognition,” de Costa said. “The call for community programming for Congress 2023 is a wonderful opportunity to make these strengths more visible.”

Victoria Stacey, LA&PS senior communications specialist, has been involved in producing the videos and is enthusiastic about the finished products.

“Each researcher makes a complex topic extremely accessible,” she said. “They have demonstrated how research can be explained well.”

De Costa noted that it’s essential to understand that the insights of scholarly research can be valuable not just to academics but to everyone. “We need to communicate our work in different ways, in the places and forms that people live and work and congregate.”

York University and the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences will host Congress 2023 from May 27 to June 2Register here to attend, community passes are available and term dates have been adjusted to align with timelines for this year’s event.

Congress 2023 screens Indigenous-focused films

film camera

By Elaine Smith

A group of female directors will bring their Indigenous-focused films to York’s Keele Campus during Congress 2023 in late May.

Both conference attendees and the general public will have the opportunity to see the works of Ange Loft, Martha Stiegman, Angele Alook and Paulette Moore free of charge as part of the conference’s community programming. They touch on a variety of issues and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including reduced inequalities, life on land and gender equality.

Loft, a multidisciplinary artist, and Stiegman, an associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC), are part of Jumblies Theatre & Arts’ Talking Treaties project which is produced By These Presents: “Purchasing” Toronto and screens on May 28. The piece was created to explore the treaty negotiations between the colonizing British and the Mississaugas of the Credit, for the land the City of Toronto now occupies. Afterward, Amar Bhatia, co-director of Osgoode Hall’s Intensive Program in Indigenous Lands, Resources and Governments, will facilitate a discussion with members of the creative team.

“Using archival records and minutes of the treaty negotiations, we see the underhanded calculus and fraudulent means used to acquire Mississauga lands,” says Stiegman. “It [the film] uses sardonic humour as sugar on the medicine of truth to draw people in and engage them in a different way of learning about history so they don’t feel like they are doing homework.”

Alook, assistant professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies brings her work, pîkopayin (It Is Broken), to the screen on May 27. Part of the Just Powers project on energy transition and environmental and social justice, the film looks at the impacts of resource extraction on the community of Bigstone Cree Nation in Alberta, Alook’s home territory, which sits amidst the oil sands in the boreal forest. It documents traditional land users’ practices such as hunting, harvesting, and land-based teaching, while talking to the residents about their visions of the future on these lands.

The final films, VeRONAka and Rahyne, screen on June 1 and are followed by a panel discussion moderated by director Paulette Moore, an EUC PhD student, filmmaker and owner of The Aunties Dandelion media organization. VeRONAka is a 10-minute live-action fictional film, both humorous and serious, that explores the true story of how a Mohawk clan mother gave COVID-19 a Mohawk name, personifying the out-of-control virus. Once a person is in relationship with the virus, they can understand why it is here and ask it to leave. Rahyne is a short, animated film about an Afro-Indigenous non-binary teen whose identity is united through two water spirits. Moore will talk with Rahyne’s co-directors Queen Kukoyi and Nico Taylor about how film can help explore concepts of identity and naming. 

York University and the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences will host Congress 2023 from May 27 to June 2. Register here to attend; community passes are available and term dates have been adjusted to align with timelines for this year’s event.

Faculty of Health targets anxiety with support from Beneva

York researcher Lora Appel demonstrates a VR headset during a recent TO Health gathering

Four innovative and community-focused Faculty of Health studies will shed new light on anxiety, thanks to an investment in York University mental health researchers by Beneva, the largest mutual insurance company in Canada.

The $200,000 Anxiety Research Fund, powered by Beneva, aims to enhance assessment and treatment supports for individuals coping with anxiety – a debilitating and frequently hidden affliction experienced by one in five Canadians.

“Anxiety prevention is the main focus that guides Beneva’s social and philanthropic action nationwide,” notes Beneva President and Chief Executive Officer Jean-Francois Chalifoux. “We are proud to have teamed up with York University to create the Anxiety Research Fund, dedicated entirely to accelerating research which will have an immediate and positive impact on the community, bringing new insight and change around this important issue.”

“York’s partnership with Beneva will have lasting benefits, not only for individuals struggling with anxiety, but for society as a whole,” says Faculty of Health Dean David Peters. “Through strategic collaboration with their community partners on these projects, our researchers will ensure their findings are used to address one of the most critical mental health issues today: anxiety.”

Four projects were selected for funding through a competitive application process led by the Faculty of Health Research Office.

Exposure Therapy Using Virtual Reality
Lora Appel (image: Sophie Kirk)
Lora Appel (image: Sophie Kirk)

With her team in York’s PrescribingVRx lab, School of Health Policy & Management Professor Lora Appel is using virtual reality technology to pilot an Exposure Therapy program focused on anxiety experienced by people with epilepsy. Project participants have identified common anxiety-provoking themes, which will be recreated virtually into 360-degree videos.

After conducting randomized trials in a controlled environment at Toronto Western Hospital, the study will move into the community (recruiting through Epilepsy Toronto), where therapy can be administered in people’s homes. While the results are expected to have a direct impact on people with epilepsy, the researchers also envision applications to others who suffer from anxiety.

Retooling Black Youth Anxiety
Godfred Boateng

Headed by School of Global Health Professor Godfred Boateng, who is director, Global & Environmental Health Lab and Faculty Fellow, Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, this project will address anxiety and mental health issues of Black youth and their families, resulting from encounters with the criminal justice system and the child welfare system.

Partnerships with the Ghana Union of Canada (GUC) and Gashanti Unity (GU) will play a critical role in implementing this project to their communities. Researchers will recruit participants, identify key needs and work with clinical professionals to provide interventions. An online resource centre and sensitization programs aimed at improving the mental well-being of Black individuals and Black families will be created.

Reducing Anxiety About HPV Tests
Catriona Buick
Catriona Buick

A School of Nursing project led by Professor Catriona Buick focuses on anxiety that is anticipated in response to upcoming revisions to Ontario’s Cervical Screening Guidelines. In other countries, anxiety has been minimized by introducing evidence-based communications with patients around Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection and cervical cancer.

The project will assess whether an infographic education intervention about primary HPV testing can decrease anxiety and increase understanding and acceptance of the upcoming changes to existing screening guidelines. The intent is to manage anxiety, dispel myths and misconceptions, normalize HPV, and improve acceptance of primary HPV testing for routine cervical cancer screening.

Decision-making in a Global Health Crisis
Shayna Rosenbaum
Shayna Rosenbaum

This project will investigate how mental health issues can interfere with people’s compliance with important public health measures – such as mask wearing and vaccination – during a global pandemic. The team, led by Department of Psychology Professor Shayna Rosenbaum, studies “delay discounting” (undervaluing or discounting future benefits when making health decisions).

The researchers will seek methods to reduce anxiety and optimize decision-making during global crises. Their findings will inform action by the Public Health Agency of Canada on the wider impact of COVID-19 and which sectors of society to target through technical briefing.

Thanks to Beneva, the Anxiety Research Fund in the Faculty of Health aims to support critical, community-focused projects to better identify, manage and help reduce the manifestations of anxiety.

Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion launches new REDDI series

Equity, diversity, inclusion

In view of the upcoming launch of York University’s Decolonizing, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEDI) Strategy, the Centre for Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion (REI) is offering a curated list of summer REDDI sessions, covering a wide range of topics to ensure University community members are prepared to address systemic inequities.

In furthering the goals of the York University Academic Plan and the DEDI Strategy, the Rights, Equity, Diversity, Decolonization & Inclusion (REDDI) certificate workshop sessions are designed to provide opportunities for community members to learn, reflect upon and discuss ways to contribute to an equitable academic environment. Each session will run for approximately 90 minutes and will be offered virtually, to facilitate the attendance of participants on and off campus.

All students, staff and faculty are invited to attend REDDI workshops running from the beginning of June to mid-August. The series will kick off Pride month with a session on building positive spaces on campus and in the workplace. Sessions on bias, microaggressions, organizational change and employment equity will be offered for those interested in completing a full-length certificate, and the popular mini-series workshops will also be offered, which cover topics including challenging ableism, addressing racism and dialogues across difference. The series also features a new French session on ableism called “Démanteler le capacitisme : Briser les barrières à l’accès et l’inclusion.”

Participants who complete three full-length workshops will receive a REDDI series certificate. The 2023 summer workshops are also an opportunity for participants to attend and add on to their requirements for the REDDI mini-series certificates.

REDDI mini-series workshops also offer certificates of completion. For certificates to be awarded following a mini-series, three mini-series workshops plus one full-length workshop must be attended.

Registration for these workshops is required and can be accessed through the YULearn Learning Opportunities website. To learn more about York’s new DEDI strategy, click here.

How non-native English accents undermine women at work

Group of women professionals posed boldly in office setting, stock image

New research from professors at York University’s Schulich School of Business shows that women with non-native accents often get pushed into traditionally feminine jobs with lower pay and prestige, even when sufficiently qualified.

The findings are contained in an article published recently in the Psychology of Women Quarterly. The article titled “Women With Mandarin Accent in the Canadian English-Speaking Hiring Context: Can Evaluations of Warmth Undermine Gender Equity?” was co-authored by Ivona Hideg, associate professor and Ann Brown Chair in Organization Studies, and Winny Shen, associate professor of organization studies, both at Schulich, together with Samantha Hancock, an assistant professor in the DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies at Western University.

Ivona Hideg and Winny Shen

Past research has broadly found that people with non-native accents are seen as less competent, but this research has generally been focused on men with non-native accents. Hideg, Hancock and Shen wanted to specifically examine whether women’s experiences in speaking with a non-native accent, and the bias they face, diverge from the prior documented experiences of men.

The team noted that a lack of consideration of women’s unique experiences at work mirrors broader trends in the natural and social sciences, where men are often perceived as the default or standard among research participants.

“Our findings indicate that women with a non-native accent associated with a more gender-traditional country face subtle biases that are difficult to recognize as bias and hence difficult to address,” says Hideg.

“Although on the surface it may seem that women with non-native accents experience advantages in hiring due to perceptions of warmth, our research shows that they are likely to be stereotyped and funneled into less prestigious positions,” she adds.

York professors lead Queer Comics Symposium

coloured pencils sketch cartoon

Building upon the work of the just-published and Lambda Literary Award nominated publication, The LGBTQ+ Comics Studies Reader: Critical Openings, Future Directions (University Press of Mississippi, 2022), York University Professors Alison Halsall and Jonathan Warren will host a Queer Comics Symposium on Friday, April 28.

This event, presented by York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the Departments of English and Humanities, will focus on transdisciplinary and international LGBTQ+ comics scholarship and creativity. Taking advantage of the appearance of the Reader as a field-defining publication, organizers say the symposium will mobilize the specific kinds of knowledge that it showcases: putting scholars in conversation with creators, providing a forum for the work of thinkers at different stages of their careers, and featuring a diversity of analytical approaches with the aim of generating further contributions to the field.

The day begins at noon, in Accolade Building East (room 005), with a plenary lecture given by Professor Michelle Ann Abate (Ohio State University), author of Tomboys: A Literary and Cultural History (Temple University Press). She will discuss “Queering Conformity in Postwar America: The Li’l Tomboy Comic Book Series and Gender Rebellion in the 1950s.” Following this lecture will be a panel that features papers by Professor Lin Young (University of Calgary), Joti Bilkhu (York University), as well as Halsall and Warren.

The second session takes place at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander St., Toronto) at 6 p.m. It will feature a public address given by Professor Justin Hall (California College of the Arts), cartoonist and editor of No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics (Fantagraphics). This lecture will be followed by the first Canadian screening of the award-winning documentary, No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics (Compadre Media, 2021), directed by Vivian Kleiman.

The Queer Comics Symposium will feature contributions from established and upcoming scholars in the field, as well as comics creators and students, at an event that is committed to inspiring and diversifying conversations about LGBTQ+ sequential art and its production around the world.

Via slideshow presentations and a book display, there will also be a presentation of a creative curation of queer comics art.

All are welcome to attend.

York innovation hub receives $3M to support women entrepreneurs

Group of diverse women entrepreneurs

ELLA, run by the University’s innovation hub, YSpace, has received $3 million from a federal government program called Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) to expand support for woman entrepreneurs across the country.

ELLA was created in 2019, with previous funding from WES, as an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs working in areas like tech, retail and food and beverage. It is Ontario’s first accelerator for women-led products and service-based businesses with programs designed to support women entrepreneurs in all stages of the business development process.

Since its creation, ELLA’s programming has supported 167 women, and its ventures have generated $15.9 million in revenue, raised $7.6 million in funding and created 121 jobs. It has also been a critical tool to boost women entrepreneurs during a difficult time. “According to the latest Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) report, service-based women-owned businesses were hit the hardest throughout the pandemic,” said David Kwok, associate director of entrepreneurship at YSpace, adding that ELLA was created to address such challenges.

Until now, ELLA’s focus has been provincial, but the new $3-million funding from WES – announced on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2023 – will enable ELLA to expand its services across Canada. ELLA will now have three national programs supporting women across the country, which include:

  • ELLA Express: A self-paced program designed to equip participants with the knowledge and tools to launch or grow their business;
  • ELLA Ascend: Support early-stage businesses in establishing their business infrastructures and setting up to scale; and
  • ELLA Altitude: Support national and international scale-ups with access to mentorship and our proven fractional executive model to overcome major business challenges.

These programs and the funding initiative aim to provide access to women entrepreneurs in areas such as financing, resources, networks and more to support their businesses and help remove systemic barriers.

YSpace ELLA parcipants
ELLA program participants with YSpace staff

ELLA has a track record of supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs and those who may not traditionally have access to similar programming. 77 per cent of the women supported by ELLA are at the intersection of more than one underrepresented group, and 66 per cent of participants indicate that their involvement in ELLA was the first time they received support from an entrepreneurial program. This funding opportunity with WES enables ELLA to provide more opportunities for women-owned ventures that were previously not supported by existing programming to succeed in the economy.

“This funding from Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada and the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is not only a signal of confidence in the work we’ve done in the past three years, but the work that we can do to better support the community around us and create greater access,” said Assistant Vice-President of Innovation and Research Partnerships Jennifer MacLean.

“We are very excited to work with and create impact for women-identifying entrepreneurs across Canada over the next two years,” said Marlina Ramchandran, ELLA’s entrepreneurship manager. “We aim to exponentially increase the capacity of skills training by organizing topic specific workshops and foster an inclusive community of women-identifying startups by creating access to mentors and subject matter experts.”

Learn more about YSpace and ELLA here.

York alumnae earn recognition for leadership, innovation

Award stock image banner from pexels

Five York alumnae have been recognized for their leadership in driving impact, innovation and inspiration through their work and accomplishments in the Canadian tech industry and in the advancement of women as role models.

Included in the 2023 Top 25 Women of Influence, a list curated by the women advocacy and support organization Women of Influence+, are alumnae Kristin Beardsley (’00 BA) and Paulette Senior (’90 BA).

“York alumni are leaders in a wide array of fields, and are making a significant impact in Canada every single day,” says Susana Gajic-Bruyea, vice-president advancement. “We are very proud to count these remarkable women amongst our graduates, and applaud their dedication to creating positive change in their communities and across the country.”

The top 25 list “recognizes and celebrates the extraordinary accomplishments of self-identified women and gender-diverse role models” and acknowledges the work of women across diverse sectors and career stages.

Beardsley is the CEO of Food Banks Canada, and under her leadership more than 4,700 food banks and community agencies operate nationwide.

Senior is president and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, where she works to build gender justice for women, girls and gender-diverse people. Senior recently delivered the prestigious Kitty Lundy Memorial Lecture at York.

DMZ’s 2023 Women of the Year, recognizing female trailblazers driving innovation in the Canadian tech industry, included three York alumnae: Hanna Zaidi (’12 BA), Kashmera Self (’99 BA); and Suzanne Knight (’11 MBA).

Zaidi is the chief compliance officer for payments at Wealthsimple, and under her leadership the company was one of the first securities dealers to get a membership to Payments Canada which allows access to infrastructure and tools for innovating financial services.

Self empowers Canadians with control of their finances and data in her role as vice-president, strategy and emerging solutions for Interac Corp. She continues to work to incorporate sustainability into the financial world and leverage Interac platforms to incentivise Ontarians with respect to climate change.

Knight is vice-president, transformation services at Walmart Canada, and in that role, drives innovative ways of thinking and working with respect to technology adoption and automation and improving the customer and employee experience.

Schulich ExecEd redesigns certificate program for women leaders in media

Group of women professionals posed boldly in office setting, stock image

In conjunction with Women in Film and Television (WIFT), Schulich ExecEd recently introduced the revamped media leadership certificate program, which strives to uplift and empower women in the film and television industry by creating connections between peers.

Schulich ExecEd, Schulich School of Business faculty and WIFT have assembled a team of veteran leadership, business and management professionals to inspire students – particularly women – to develop into top leaders in their organizations. Industry experts and Schulich MBA faculty Trina McQueen and Lisa de Wilde worked with industry practitioners to create bespoke curricula for the program’s newest entrants, who began their certificates in March.

“The media leadership program has had a 20-year history of success, and this year for sure will make it 21,” said McQueen. “The combination of superb professors, longtime industry leaders and students who are already successful is a heady mix, and their work will enrich Canadian media.”

McQueen and de Wilde share a personal and professional passion for helping women, who are both aspiring and already established in their industry, to grow their careers and achieve professional goals.

“I am excited to work with this incredibly impressive cohort of women,” de Wilde added. “Over the next three months we will add some new powerful business tools to their toolkits, helping them to realize their creative dreams – and we will have some fun.”

WIFT represents the collective interests of women in the film and television industry. Their mission is to build and advance the careers of members by providing professional development and mentorship in collaboration with industry partners.

(from left to right): Carlo Sicoli, director of Business Development and Partnerships; Rosa Na, program manager; Megan Mitchell, instructor; Rami Mayer, executive director; Stefania Gargaro, program account manager; Sharon Wong, program coordinator; and Michael De Luca, project and operations manager; each at Schulich ExecEd.
(from left to right): Carlo Sicoli, director, business development and partnerships; Rosa Na, program manager; Megan Mitchell, program director; Rami Mayer, executive director; Stefania Gargaro, program account manager; Sharon Wong, program coordinator; and Michael De Luca, project and operations manager; each at Schulich ExecEd.

“With Canada’s own Sarah Polley [recently winning an Oscar] for best adapted screenplay for the movie Women Talking; Kathryn Bigelow, one of the most successful movie directors in the U.S.; as well as Shonda Rhimes, writer, producer and showrunner of some of the most popular TV shows, there’s no shortage of female talents and role models in all aspects of TV and film,” said Schulich ExecEd Executive Director Rami Mayer.

“This program, which we at Schulich ExecEd are so proud to deliver in partnership with WIFT, will help complement the sheer capability these women clearly possess with the necessary business acumen, peer support and mentorship to help build the self-belief and determination that is so key for women aspiring for success in this industry,” he continued.

In collaboration with WIFT Programming Director Laurie Januska, Schulich ExecEd has created a series of modules that will upskill and reskill WIFT leaders who seek to develop their business management skills in the areas of leadership, strategy, marketing, finance and emerging technologies. These skills translate directly back into the industries that participants work in or intend to transition into. Program participants come from a range of industry backgrounds, including marketing, media production, executive production, freelance filmmaking, production directing, producing and business affairs.

“WIFT Toronto is thrilled to be working with Schulich ExecEd and the Schulich School for Business in delivering our coveted media leadership program. Our selected participants are in for an incredible experience of learning and discussion with professionals in the fields of strategy, communications, and leadership, and so much more,” Januska said.

Across all Schulich ExecEd offerings is a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce, with programs like this one furthering the commitment to that focus. To learn more about this program and others offered by Schulich ExecEd, click here.

Black disability studies expert earns visiting professorship at McGill

Two Black women sitting on a couch in conversation

York University Assistant Professor Agnès Berthelot-Raffard, Faculty of Health, has been selected as the Senior Muriel Gold Visiting Professor at McGill University’s Institute of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, Faculty of Arts.

Agnès Berthelot-Raffard
Agnès Berthelot-Raffard

During her research stay from March 13 to July 31, Berthelot-Raffard will work on a monograph on the interconnection between racial domination and epistemic injustices from a Black feminist perspective. As a political philosopher working in disability, Black health and ethics, Berthelot-Raffard’s book will highlight Black women’s experience in the health-care system and the barriers they face.

Berthelot-Raffard holds the first Canadian academic position in Black disability studies, and is leading research funded by the Public Health Agency to explore social determinants of racialized students’ mental health and equity at universities.

Within a social epistemology perspective and critical disability studies, Berthelot-Raffard develops philosophical arguments to conceptualize the specificity of testimonial injustices that Black women face within the medical system. She aims to shed light on how historically, by an afro-centric hermeneutic, and through activism for transformative changes, they contributed to develop new medical oppositional knowledge about their bodies to counter the effect of racial domination in the way they are treated in the health-care system, as well as the barriers to receive culturally sensitive and anti-oppressive medical treatments.

Berthelot-Raffard will deliver a keynote address for McGill’s Katherine A. Person Lecture on April 4 on the topic of “Rethinking Public Health: Merging Disability Justice with Anti-Capitalism.” The event is offered as an in-person lecture or in a virtual format, and is free to attend. Those interested in attending can register here.