Courageous Conversations speaker series

Courageous Conversations

research, knowledge, understanding and change

The OEDI’s Courageous Conversation Speaker Series was launched in fall 2020, featuring discussions on racism, anti-racism, colonialism, and complaint.

Inspired by Maya Angelou and Violet King, the series engages the campus community and beyond in difficult conversations about systemic inequities. The series features locally and internationally renowned teachers, researchers, practitioners, and community-engaged scholars and activists by exploring critical questions about what needs to be done to effect sustainable change and ensure accountability.

Identifying, naming, discussing, and tackling historical and contemporary injustices can be profoundly unsettling. That’s where courage comes in – the courage to speak truth to power, to say things that the comfortable might not want to hear. Courageous Conversations are vital to advancing EDI in a university. It ensures that we are discussing EDI and modelling our expressed commitment to human rights, human dignity and cultivating equitable pathways that enable human flourishing.

Violet King
Maya Angelou

Decolonization and Questions of Justice in the University

The 2021-2022 Courageous Conversations theme is “Decolonization and Questions of Justice in the University.” The series is designed to tackle the durable legacies of colonialism, slavery, and historical and contemporary injustices on higher education, and to inspire courageous thinking and practices aimed at transforming legacies of colonialism, slavery, and contemporary injustices. 

Courageous Conversations January


Join us!


Thursday, January 20th, 2022

12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m MST


Click below to register today!

For a Reparatory Social Science -  Dr. Gurminder K Bhambra

The social sciences are implicated in the reproduction of the very structures of inequality that are also, ostensibly, their objects of concern. This is, in part, a consequence of their failure to acknowledge the ‘connected histories’ from which they abstract one of their primary units of analysis – that is, the modern nation-state. In this talk, I argue for the need to account for colonial histories as central to national imaginaries and to the social structures through which inequalities are legitimated and reproduced. In the process, I put forward a framework for a reparatory social science, one that is oriented to global justice as a reconstructive project of the present.


A Manifesto of Decolonial Justice in African Studies - Dr. Yolande Bouka

The paradox of decolonizing institutions and disciplines whose main function has been to perpetuate hierarchies between the “producers” and “subjects” of knowledge is one of the reasons why decolonizing the academy continues to be challenging. In the case of African Studies, in addition to deconstructing colonial ideologies of Western superiority in a field of academic inquiry that was mainly created to subjugate the Black Other for imperial purposes, we are also asked to reimagine approaches to studying Africa, a place and idea that is radically different from how it was “invented” and imagined, which seems to be an antithesis between the object and the objective.  Yet, the decolonial project remains necessary given the continued prevalence of colonial thoughts and practices in the discipline. This presentation first aims to take stock of the struggle that scholars of African descent and intellectual comrades have waged to reclaim African Studies. Then, in the footsteps of scholars who have tackled issues of coloniality, I take aim at descriptive decolonization and explain the injustices of colonialism in social sciences as a result of brutal ontological and epistemological violence. Finally, we offer a manifesto of decolonial justice which offers potential pathways towards a sustained decolonial praxis. 


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Dr. Gurminder K Bhambra

Dr. Gurminder K Bhambra is a Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies at the University of Sussex. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and President of the British Sociological Association (2022-25).

She is the author of Colonialism and Modern Social Theory (2021) with John Holmwood, Connected Sociologies (2014), and the award-winning Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination (2007). She is also co-editor of Decolonising the University (2018) and runs the Global Social Theory site, is editor of Discover Society, and directs the Connected Sociologies Curriculum Project.   

Dr. Yolande Bouka

Dr. Yolande Bouka is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University. She is an interdisciplinary scholar and practitioner whose research and teaching focus on gender, violence, decoloniality, race and international relations, and African affairs.

The key questions driving her multidisciplinary research agenda are how vulnerable groups understand and navigate structural and political violence and how these experiences influence the post-conflict social and political landscapes.

Her research has received support from the Fulbright Scholar Program, the American Association of University Women, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 

Elder Colleen Sitting Eagle



Oki nistowaok Sipiyanatohkomia”ki.

Elder Colleen Sitting Eagle is the Siksika Language Instructor at Siksika Outreach School located in Siksika Nation since 2009. 

Previously, Colleen worked as a researcher with Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. She has worked with Siksika culture and heritage since 1992. Colleen learned her Siksika history from her late parents and the honour of working with knowledgeable elders. 

She was one of the first groups from Siksika to be integrated to start her schooling in Strathmore, AB. She previously attended and continues to take courses from the University of Calgary. She is the proud mother of three children and eight grandchildren.

Past sessions

Missed a session? Full recording and additional reading resources are now available!

Human Rights Day: Ableism, Disability Justice and Accessible Futures in Post-Secondary Education

Friday, December 10, 2021

Dr. Laverne Jacobs (she/her) is a full Professor of Law at the University of Windsor in Canada, and a person with physical disabilities. 

Dr. Jay Dolmage is committed to disability rights in his scholarship, service, and teaching. His work brings together rhetoric, writing, disability studies, and critical pedagogy.


Anti-Racism and Decolonization in the University

Thursday, November 21, 2021

Dr. Verna St. Denis is a Professor of Education in the Department of Educational Foundations and Special Advisor to the President on Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression at the University of Saskatchewan.

Dr. Shirley Anne Tate is a Professor and Canada Research Chair Tier 1 in Feminism and Intersectionality in the Sociology Department, University of Alberta, Canada.


Decolonization: Rethinking the Coloniality of Power, Knowledge, and Being

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Dr. Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni is Professor and Chair of Epistemologies of the Global South with Emphasis on Africa at the University of Bayreuth, and a member of Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence.

Dr. Isabel Altamirano-Jiménez is Binizaá (Zapotec) from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico and Professor of Political Science at University of Alberta.


Decolonization, Disciplines, and Indigenous Knowledges in the University

Thursday, September 21, 2021

Dr. Marie Battiste holds the position of Professor Emerita at the University of Saskatchewan, and is Mi’kmaq from the Potlotek First Nation.

Dr. Catherine Odora Hoppers is a scholar and policy specialist on International Development, education, North-South questions, disarmament, peace, and human security.


Coloniality and Racial (In)Justice in the University

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Dr. Delia D. Douglas holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Dr. Enakshi Dua is a Professor and Graduate Director in Sexuality and Women’s Studies in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University.

Dr. annie ross is an Indigenous teacher and artist working within community inside the Canadian west.

Dr. Sunera Thobani is Professor in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia.


What, You’re Calling "Me" A Racist?

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Dr. Fiona Nicoll is a professor in the Faculty of Arts (Political Science) at the University of Alberta. She is also a founding member of the Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association and edited its inaugural issue in 2005.

Dr. Sarita Srivastava is Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, OCAD University. In her previous position as Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Gender Studies, Queen’s University, she developed graduate seminars in Transnational Theories of Race, Gender and Sexuality and undergraduate seminars such as race, sex and the body, and race gender and nation, and taught a Social Justice Practicum for many years.


The racist violence of “not racism” and the role of “contrarian” academics

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Dr. Alana Lentin is an Associate Professor of Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University. She is a European Jewish woman who is a settler on Gadigal land (Sydney, Australia).


Complaint, Diversity, and Other Hostile Environments

Friday, March 20, 2020

Sara Ahmed is a feminist of colour scholar and writer. Her work addresses how power is experienced and challenged in everyday life and institutional cultures.


Decolonizing Disciplines and Structures of Inequality

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Dr. Gurminder K. Bhambra is a Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies at the University of Sussex. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and President of the British Sociological Association (2022-25).

Dr. Yolande Bouka is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s University. She is an interdisciplinary scholar and practitioner whose research and teaching focus on gender, violence, decoloniality, race and international relations, and African affairs.