Courageous Conversations Speaker Series

Speaker Series

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

Courageous Conversations

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 the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and contemporary injustices. 

CCSS September 21, 2023

Join us!


Since 2020, several Alberta universities and colleges have appointed senior equity leaders. The Courageous Conversation session hosted by UCalgary's Vice Provost & Associate Vice President Research (EDI) will include the inaugural senior leaders of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions in conversation, for the first time, about the major equity issues facing universities in Alberta and across Canada.

Dr. Malinda Smith

Dr. Malinda Smith is the inaugural Vice Provost and Associate Vice President Research (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) and a full professor of political science at the University of Calgary. Prior to joining the UCalgary she was a full professor of political science at the University of Alberta, where she held various roles including Provost Fellow (EDI Policy) in the Office of the Provost, and Associate Chair (Graduate Studies) in the Department of Political Science.

Dr. Smith has served on numerous higher education governance committees, including as Vice President (Equity Issues) for the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and as Chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion External Review Committee for the Canada Research Chairs. Currently, she serves on SSHRC Governing Council and Executive; as Vice Chair of the Inter-Institutional Advisory Committee for the Scarborough Charter, on Statistics Canada’s Immigration and Ethnocultural Statistics Advisory Committee; and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s External EDI Advisory Board.

Dr. Smith is the coauthor, editor, or coeditor of 7 books, numerous articles, book chapters and reports and has given dozens of invited keynotes and public lectures in the areas of equity, diversity, human rights, and decolonization in higher education, African political economy, and international relations. Dr. Smith is the coauthor of The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities (2017); coeditor of Critical Concepts: An Introduction to Politics (OUP 2023); the Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy (UofT Press, 2022); States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century (BTL 2010). and three books on Africa, including Securing Africa: Post-9/11 Discourses on Terrorism (2010).

Dr. Smith is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including Calgary Black Chambers’ Lifetime Achievement Award (2023), an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Simon Fraser University (2021), Compelling Calgarians (2021), the International Studies Association’s  Women’s Caucus’s Susan S. Northcutt Award (2020), 100 Accomplished Black Women Honouree (2020), the ISA-Canada Distinguished Scholar Award (2018-19), P.E. Trudeau Foundation Fellow (2018), the HSBC Community Contributor of the Year Award (2016); and the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ Equity Award  (2015).

Learn more

Dr. Mousssa Gassa

Dr. Moussa Magassa is the Associate Vice-President, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Mount Royal University, Calgary. His mandate is to lead, in collaboration with key university stakeholders, the development of comprehensive institutional EDI/A strategies, processes and evidence-based policies, practices, and programs that center the experiences of equity-deserving people and ensure that EDI/A values are embedded in day-to-day operations of the university, its decision-making, and strategic planning. His approach to EDI/A is rooted in an intersectional and trauma-informed framework that draws on the lived experiences and voices of equity-deserving people and their allies.

Previously, he worked as the Principal Strategist, Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Anti-racism Education and Community Engagement at UVic. Dr. Magassa is an associate faculty in the UVic social justice program and the M.A. in global leadership program at Royal Roads University. He also is an instructor in the UVic Intercultural Studies & Practice program and the UBC Centre for intercultural communication.

He holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction (UVic) with a special focus on critical race theory, anti-racism, Islamophobia and human rights education; an MA in human security and peacebuilding (Royal Roads University); a BA (Hons) in conflict resolution and peace studies (Kwazulu Natal University, South Africa); and various advanced certifications in human rights and humanitarian law (UNITAR), conflict mediation (UNISA), and intercultural competency development (Portland).

Dr. Magassa has an extensive background in humanitarian peacebuilding and non-violence work and an integration program coordinator with immigrant and refugee settlement. Dr. Moussa Magassa was born in Senegal and speaks many languages besides English and French.

Dr. Carrie Smith

Dr. Carrie Smith is the inaugural Vice-Provost for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the University of Alberta; previous academic leadership positions include Vice-Dean of Arts and Department Chair. She is currently serving as President of German Studies Canada. Her research covers topics in critical university studies, feminist leadership practices, and digital feminism.

She is the author of two monographs, including the co-authored Awkward Politics: Technologies of Popfeminist Activism (2016) and has coedited eight peer-reviewed essay collections, most recently Transverse Disciplines: Queer-feminist, Anti-racist, and Decolonial Approaches to the University (2022) and Indigenous & German Studies (2019). She has been the co-managing editor of three international journals, co-directs the Digital Feminist Collective research group, and has received awards for teaching and research.

Ms. Martha Mathurin

Ms. Martha Mathurin-Moe was born and raised in Saint Lucia, West Indies. Martha Mathurin-Moe holds a BA degree from the Universidad Central de Las Villas, Cuba, a Master of Education in Educational Psychology from the University of Regina and a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction.  Mathurin Moe's experience consists of 10 years in Banking and Finance, 7 years in Human Resources Development and 8 years in International Education.  Previous roles include Manager of Talent Development at the Public Service Commission, Government of Saskatchewan, and Associate Director of Study Abroad & Mobility at UR International at the University of Regina. Mathurin-Moe’s work in international education has allowed her to participate in several educational forums in Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Norway, Mexico, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

She is a recipient of the 2016 University of Regina’s President’s Award for Service Excellence. She is a skilled facilitator, a values-based leader who advocates for equitable and inclusive workplaces for all. She is keen on developing learning opportunities that create an environment where all students, regardless of race, gender/gender expression, neurodiversity, or ethnic background, feel represented in their learning space. She enjoys cooking, reading, and travelling with her partner Jared during her free time.

Elder Colleen Sitting Eagle

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!


Rehearsals for Living

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Dr. Robyn Maynard is an author and scholar based in Toronto, where she holds the position of Assistant Professor of Black Feminisms in Canada at the University of Toronto-Scarborough in the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies.

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist who has been widely recognized as one of the most compelling Indigenous voices of her generation. Her work breaks open the intersections between politics, story and song—bringing audiences into a rich and layered world of sound, light, and sovereign creativity.



Faith Matters: Why Engaging Religious Diversity Should be a Top Priority

Monday, March 21, 2022

Dr. Eboo Patel is a widely acclaimed civic leader who believes that religious diversity is an essential and inspiring dimension of democracy. Named “one of America’s best leaders” by US News and World Report, Dr. Patel is the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), the leading interfaith organization in the United States. 


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.


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 a community inside the Canadian west.

Dr. Sunera Thobani is a 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.