The Urgency of Doing

In the words of Leonardo Da Vinci, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

This week, May 12-15, our city has the opportunity to go from knowing to doing, from learning to taking action. Spur Winnipeg, “a national festival of politics, art and ideas,” is coming to town. A host of inspiring, challenging and fun events will take place, featuring great local and global thinkers, leaders, activists, scholars, journalists, entrepreneurs and artists, each with provocative, innovative ideas about how we can grow as a city and country. This year, the festival’s theme is Our New Tribalism. Together, we will explore how we belong, and discuss our complex, multicultural identity as Canadians.

Here are four events you won’t want to miss:

Hive Mind or Internet Mob? On May 12, a group of pioneering women will share lessons they have learned on the power of game design and the untapped potential of online communities. Their ideas and leadership will help us harness the power of the World Wide Web to do good. And, we are in luck, for there will be a special performance by our Spur Poet-in-Residence, Chimwemwe Undi.

Feminist Futures. What does it mean to be a feminist? Today, dozens of meanings and connotations are attached to the word. Definitions and reactions by Canadians are increasingly confusing and complex. This is a very timely panel, for as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women in Canada getting the right to vote, the fight to ensure equality for all remains. Women in Canada still face income inequality, disproportionate representation in the media and politics, high incidences of violence, victim blaming and discrimination. On May 13, hear from experts and share your two cents on our feminist future.

In Conversation with Winona LaDuke. Across Canada, we have begun a conversation on pathways to reconciliation. In the wake of Residential Schools, the Sixties Scoop and colonization, what does reconciliation really mean and look like? How do we live reconciliation? More importantly, how can and should we support our Indigenous communities and address longstanding injustices? What does it mean to be an ally? Having worked on the Document Disclosure Project for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and witnessed first-hand the structural vulnerability of Aboriginal women and girls to violence and sexual exploitation, I am very excited to engage in dialogue with you, Winona LaDuke, Niigaan James Sinclair and Katherena Vermette on May 14.

Finally, I strongly recommend the Métis Heritage Walking Tour on May 15. Learn about our rich Métis community and heritage in beautiful Saint-Boniface, all while getting a 75 minute workout.

We Must Do.

As your Public Fellow, I very much look forward to meeting you. More importantly, in the words of Da Vinci, “we must do.” I look forward to collaborating so that we may spur our ideas into action.

Dr. Karlee Sapoznik is a human rights and social justice advocate, professor, researcher and NGO leader. She works in collaboration to spearhead international, national, provincial and local initiatives, host community events, bridge gaps between government and community groups, and break down religious, cultural, language and academic-public divides.

She is a widely published contributor to numerous books, academic journals, book reviews, curriculum units, research and policy reports. Her first book, The Letters and Other Writings of Gustavus Vassa (alias Olaudah Equiano, the African): Documenting Abolition of the Slave Trade was published in 2013 by Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton. Her research on human trafficking and sexual exploitation has informed task forces across Canada, and was cited in Canada’s Exploited Persons Act.

Sapoznik has represented Canada academically and as part of anti-slavery, genocide, social justice, human rights and development projects abroad in England, Israel, Italy, Mali, Peru, Poland, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, and the United States. She is committed to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians. As a Professor at l’Université de Saint-Boniface, she created the school’s first course on residential schools, including a round table to foster dialogue between Métis, Aboriginal and Francophone leaders and elders. She also led a research team that informed the final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

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