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2015-2016 Lectures in Catholic Experience Past Lectures
Dr. John Borrows, Dr. Leah Gazan, Dr. Niigaanweweidom James Sinclair

First Nations and Canada: Seeking True Reconciliation

April 8, 2016

This panel will discuss the issues that Canada must face honestly and critically as First Nations move forward from the process of truth and reconciliation. How do we create an economic future for First Nations and revitalize their cultural practices and languages? What are the legal issues that need to be addressed? How do we engage the violence that floods indigenous communities? What does the future of First Nations and Canada look like? Join our speakers as they engage us in conversation and help us to face what inhibits fruitful discussion and what will lead to relationships of justice.


John Borrows is Anishinaabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario, Canada. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School. His publications include: Recovering Canada: The Resurgence of Indigenous Law (Donald Smiley Award for the best book in Canadian Political Science, 2002); Canada's Indigenous Constitution (Canadian Law and Society Best Book Award 2011); Drawing Out Law: A Spirit's Guide (2010); Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism (forthcoming), all from the University of Toronto Press.  Dr. Borrows is a recipient of an Aboriginal Achievement Award in Law and Justice, a Fellow of the Trudeau Foundation, and a Fellow of the Academy of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada (R.S.C.), Canada's highest academic honour. 

Leah Gazan is a member of  the Wood Mountain Lakota Nation, located in Treaty number 4 in the Province of Saskatchewan. She holds a M.Ed. degree and teaches in the Faculty of Education at the University of Winnipeg. Professor Gazan is active in a number of organizations and programs that promote social justice, including the Idle No More Movement. She serves as President of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, a member of the Board of Governors at Red River College, and a council member on the Manitoba Lotteries Research Council. Professor Gazan is also the co-founder of the #WeCare campaign, aimed at engaging the broader public to stand in solidarity with indigenous communities to address the violence against indigenous women and girls in Canada.

Niigaan Sinclair is Anishinaabe, originally from St. Peter’s (Little Peguis) Indian Settlement near Selkirk, Manitoba, and is currently Associate Professor and Acting Head of the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. He is an international commentator on Indigenous issues for outlets like Al-Jazeera, The Guardian, and national broadcasters like APTN, CTV, CBC, and The Globe and Mail. Dr. Sinclair is an award winning writer, editor of such books as The Winter We Danced: Voices of the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement (Arbeiter Ring Press, 2014), and was named one of CBC Manitoba's "Top 40 under 40" in 2015. 



Lawrence Hill

Identity as Performance: You're Given a Script, but You Can Switch It (Maybe)

March 4, 2016

The case of Rachel Dolezal, the American civil rights activist who passed for black until her parents outed her as white, illustrated that human identity — including racial identity — is evolving, complex and sometimes impossible to define.  Are you black? white? Jewish? Christian? Are you a full citizen in your country, or are you seen as an undocumented migrant hiding in a country of refuge? Lawrence Hill will share observations that he has raised on the subject of individual identity in his latest novel, The Illegal, and in his other works of fiction and non-fiction including The Book of Negroes and his 2013 Massey Lectures book Blood: the Stuff of Life.


Lawrence Hill is the author of ten books, including The Illegal and The Book of Negroes, and winner of various awards, including The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and CBC Radio’s Canada Reads. Hill delivered the 2013 Massey Lectures, based on his non-fiction book Blood: The Stuff of Life. He co-wrote the adaptation for the six-part television miniseries The Book of Negroes. He is currently writing a new novel, as well as a screenplay adaptation of The Illegal for Conquering Lion Pictures. Mr. Hill volunteers with Crossroads International and with the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, and lives with his family in Hamilton, ON and in Woody Point, NL.



Dr. Margaret Archer

Laudato si’: A New Call for Catholic Social Action

February 12, 2016

Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has been using the two Pontifical Academies (PAS for natural science and PASS for the social sciences) to explore topics of concern to him, such as climate change and human trafficking. In this lecture, Dr. Archer will examine the impact of this relationship between Pope Francis and the Academies. Members of the Academies have become more involved in the world, whether among the poorest whose livelihoods are being destroyed by increasing acidification of the seas or with those trafficked into forced labour, prostitution, and the harvesting of their vital organs. The climax of this engagement, though not the end of the story, was the UN’s designation of the new Sustainable Development Goals for 2015, in which the Church played a crucial role — as a social activist. 


Margaret S. Archer was Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, 1979-2010. Her research is devoted to the problem of structure and agency, through which she developed her ‘morphogenetic approach’ to social theory. She has written over twenty books, including The Reflexive Imperative in Late Modernity (2012), Making our Way through the World: Human Reflexivity and Social Mobility (2007), and Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation (2003).

Dr. Archer was President of the International Sociological Association (1986-90); a founding member of FAcSS; the British Nominee for the Balzan Prize, 2013; and a founding member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, becoming its President in 2014.

Dr. Samantha Nutt

Conflicted? The World of War

January 15, 2016

This lecture takes a compelling look at the impact of war – the truth, the lies, and the reality on the ground – and the major events currently shaping our world. Drawing on over fifteen years of being at the frontline of many of the world’s major crises, Dr. Nutt explores the meaning of social justice and community in the context of our growing global economic and security inter-dependence.


Samantha Nutt is a medical doctor and the Founder/Executive Director of War Child Canada. For fifteen years, she has been at the frontline of many of the world’s major crises — from Iraq to Afghanistan, Somalia to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone to Darfur, Sudan. Her 2011 book, Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies and Aid, is an uncompromising account of Dr. Nutt’s work in some of the world’s most devastated regions.

Dr. Nutt is a staff physician at Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She is a Senior Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto, and is on the board of the David Suzuki Foundation. In 2011, Dr. Nutt was appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to improving the plight of young people in the world’s worse conflict zones.

Barbara Coloroso

Breaking the Cycle of Violence and Creating Deeply Caring Communities

December 4, 2015

Breaking the cycle of violence in our homes, schools and communities involves more than merely identifying and stopping the bully. In this lecture, Barbara Coloroso will examine why and how a child becomes a bully or the target of a bully as well as the role bystanders play in perpetuating the cycle. She will explore comprehensive, multi-institutional, community-wide solutions that address the violent behavior of young people, while redressing the social conditions in which violence flourishes; reconciliatory justice as an alternative to punishment and vengeance; and the power of forgiveness, all of which are needed if we want to create more caring and compassionate communities.


Barbara Coloroso is an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on parenting, teaching, school discipline, positive school climate, bullying, grieving, nonviolent conflict resolution and restorative justice. She has training in sociology, special education, and philosophy, as well as extensive experience as a classroom teacher, laboratory school instructor, university instructor, seminar leader, volunteer in Rwanda, and mother of three grown children.

Barbara is the author of four books: The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: Breaking the Cycle of Violence (2003); Just because it’s not wrong, doesn’t make it right: helping kids to think and act ethically (2005)Her latest book is Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide and Why it Matters, published by Nation Books, 2007. 



Kevin Tierney

Bon Movie, Bad Movie

November 13, 2015

Canada is a funny place. Actually Canada is two funny places. At the very least, Yvon Deschamps is a Québec humorist who has sold more tickets to his live shows than any other performer in this country but, in English Canada, nobody knows who he is. John Candy, Martin Short et al were, and are, famous stars in English Canada but would not be recognized in most parts of Québec. Why would anyone try to bridge this gap? Why would anyone want to?  Québec film producer, Kevin Tierney, will offer his reflections on using movies to address these questions, and to make people smile from Victoria to Victoriaville.


Kevin Tierney is the producer and co-writer of Bon Cop, Bad Cop, the first bilingual film made in Canada, and the highest grossing movie in the history of Québec and Canadian cinema. He also produced Good Neighbors, The TrotskyLove and Savagery, and Serveuses Demandées. His most recent production, French Immersion, saw Tierney make his directorial debut. Over the past 15 years, Tierney’s television productions have been nominated for 11 Emmys and 12 Geminis.

Prior to entering the film business, Mr. Tierney spent more than a decade teaching at various levels and all over the world, including Canada, Algeria, Chad, and China. He has written widely on many aspects of cinema, and has contributed to Making It and Selling It, both published by the Academy of Canadian Film and Television.



Dr. Charles Taylor

Faith as an Option: the 21st Century Religious and Spiritual Scene

October 23, 2015

In this lecture, Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, will examine the conditions of belief in the contemporary West. Our current situation is one in which Western Christendom — a society and civilization meant to reflect the Christian faith in all its facets — is unraveling. The faith exists in all kinds of societies, including those built historically around cultures quite alien to Christianity. But we are definitely living in a post-Christendom culture; the common world we all share is moving away from the essential features of Christendom. What does this cultural situation mean for the orientations and forms of Christian faith, as well as for other spiritual paths? How can these many paths relate to each other today? 


One of Canada’s most important thinkers, Dr. Charles Taylor has long challenged the idea that the Enlightenment’s rational movement had reduced notions like morality and spirituality into anachronisms. Such a narrow, reductive approach denies a fuller account of human meaning. Dr. Taylor’s extensive writings and lectures have covered a range of subjects such as individual rights and collective responsibility, language, social behavior, morality and multiculturalism. In 2007, he joined with sociologist Gérard Bouchard to chair the Québec Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences; he received the Templeton Prize; and he published A Secular Age, the significant study of the changing place of religion in our societies. Dr. Taylor was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada in 1995, and Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2000.