Vanier Social Science Fest 2023

Truth to

October 16-20, 2023

Cégep Vanier College Auditorium
(unless otherwise noted)

Keynote Speaker

Gwynne Dyer

military historian, journalist,
award-winning documentary maker and author

Participants include:

Krista Riley, Nakuset, Kimberlee Desormeaux, Jean-Pierre Corbeil, Alanna Mitchell, Jacky Vallee, Montreal Steppers, Danielle Altidor, Eric Lamoureux, Peter Gantous, Ted Rutland, Maxime Aurelien, Daniel Green, John Stubbs, Peter Vogopoulos, Martin Geoffroy, Matthieu Sossoyan, Rafa Islam, Antonia Mabeke, Alexandre Boulerice

Vanier Social Science Festival 2023



October 16, 2023

8:00 - 8:30 a.m.

“Welcome” Coffee, tea and light refreshments at Auditorium entrance

8:30 a.m.

Krista Riley and Vanier alumnae: panel on “Participatory Action Research with and about Muslim students in CEGEP

From 2018-2021, a team of researchers carried out a project based here at Vanier College with the aim of better understanding what life is like for Muslim college students in Quebec. Using a Participatory Action Research approach, lead researchers Leila Bdeir and Krista Riley hired teams of Vanier students, almost all Muslim themselves, to play a role in conducting the research and analyzing the results. This panel will include one of the lead researchers as well as three of the student researchers, Vanier graduates who are now in university. They will reflect on their experiences with the research process as well as on some of the results from the project.


Krista Melanie Riley is a pedagogical counsellor at Vanier College, where she supports several of the college's academic programs and works on initiatives related to equity and accessibility in education. From 2018-2021, she co-directed a Participatory Action Research project to look at the experiences of Muslim cégep students in Quebec. She holds a PhD in Communication Studies from Concordia University.

Leila Bdeir is one of the co-lead researchers for the Experiences of Muslim Students in Cegep project and has been teaching at Vanier since 2010 in the Humanities Department. She has also been an active member of the Women's and Gender Studies program. She holds a political science and gender studies degree from UQAM. She has been involved in anti-racist feminist work in Montreal since the spring of 1999.

Fatoumata Binta Balde (she/her) is a graduating dietetic student at Université de Montréal and is interested in the health of vulnerable populations, particularly Black communities. She was a member of the Being Muslim in Cegep second year's research team and plans to pursue her interest for research by contemplating a career in public health.

Rayana Eltanoukhi is currently completing her last year of a bachelor's degree in Honours Psychology at Concordia University. She comes from a Muslim, Italian-Lebanese background and was honoured to work on this participatory-action research project for its last two years.

Labiba Faiza graduated from Vanier College in 2020 with A DEC in Social Sciences. She worked on the “Being Muslim in Cegep” project during its second year, driven by her desire to understand the experiences of both herself and her fellow Muslim students within the cultural context of Quebec. She is currently in her final year of studies at McGill University, majoring in International Development Studies. Her interests lie in a wide variety of fields, including media, communications, and public policy.

11:30 a.m.

Nakuset (director of The Native Women's Shelter of Montreal) to talk on the 60s Scoop and ongoing issues with foster care of indigenous children

Nakuset personally experienced the 60s Scoop and will reflect on her own life journey, as well as ongoing issues with foster care of indigenous children in Canada.


Na'kuset, the Executive Director of the Native Women's Shelter of Montréal, is Cree from Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan. She has three beautiful boys, Kistin, Mahkisis and Mahihkan. She was adopted by a Jewish family in Montreal and draws on her adoptee experience in her advocacy work for Indigenous children in care. In 2014, Na'kuset created, produced and hosted the television series Indigenous Power, as well she was voted “Woman of the Year 2014” by the Montreal Council of Women. In 2016, Na'kuset was featured in Real Talk on Race, the award winning CBC series. In 2017, she was selected by the CKX City Series as a speaker/shift disturber due to the work she does to shift the status quo for urban Indigenous women. In November 2017, she was a speaker for TEDxMontrealWomen where she shared how institutions can better support the needs of urban Indigenous people. In 2018, she testified for 3 days at the Viens Commission, a public inquiry into the discrimination of Indigenous people of Quebec. She testified in June, 2018 at the MMIW Inquiry in Calgary. In February 2019, she presented at WE Day. She was featured in the “End of 2010's” for Global News to discuss her past decade of work for the urban Indigenous community. She is honoured to have spearheaded and run the Cabot Square project since its 2014 inception and is a co-founder of Resilience Montreal (2019) which serves homeless in need. In 2021, she received The Paul-Gérin-Lajoie Award for Diversity. In 2022, she has been recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the Women's Y Foundation. In September 2023, she was inducted into the Côte Saint-Luc Human Rights Walkway because of her steadfast commitment to humankind. Na'kuset is currently developing a second-stage housing project known as Miyoskamin that will feature within its doors Saralikitaaq - a social pediatric centre that will be open to Indigenous children and their families across Montreal. She is dedicated to improving the lives of urban Indigenous people.

1:00 p.m. in B325

Kimberlee Desormeaux will organize an interactive “World Café” with guest speaker Jean-Pierre Corbeil: “Intergenerational dialogue on laws to protect French in Quebec”

Please RSVP via this link to help us with planning


We invite you to participate in a World Café, a powerful technique to dialogue in small groups with peers and special guests. Join us for this open conversation and encounter different perspectives on laws to protect French in Quebec.


Organizer : Kimberlee Desormeaux, Sociology teacher at Vanier College and author of « Raviver la démocratie »

Special Guest: Jean-Pierre Corbeil, demographic linguist and professor at Département de sociologie, Université Laval

2:30 p.m.

Alanna Mitchell (award-winning science journalist and author): “Sea Sick: How Carbon in the Atmosphere Affects the Ocean”

An inspirational story-based talk about my adventures with ocean scientists as they travel the world decoding the mysteries of how our planet works. We watch corals spawn on a reef in Paname, visit the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, take a trip to the Galapagos and descend a terrifying 3,000 feet in a submersible to the bottom of the ocean off the the coast of Cuba. Along the way, we'll find out what the stakes are for the planet and what can be done.


Alanna Mitchell is an internationally award-winning Canadian science journalist, author and playwright. Fascinated with the intersection of science, art and society, she is a contributor to CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks and a freelance writer for Canadian Geographic magazine and The New York Times. She has travelled to every continent and to most parts of the ocean doing research and giving talks on marine science.

She was named Best Environmental Reporter in the World in 2000 for reporting on the vanishing forests of Madagascar; Best Environmental Reporter in North America and Oceania in 2000 and 2001, and has won the Canadian Policy Research Media Award.

Her second book, Sea Sick: The Global Ocean in Crisis, was an international bestseller that won the U.S.-based Grantham Prize for excellence in environmental journalism in 2010. Mitchell has since turned it into one-woman play that she continues to perform in Canada and around the world.


October 17, 2023

10:00 a.m.

Jacky Vallee: “The Whites Came and Tried to Destroy Us”: The Spirit of Resistance among Eeyou Drinkers

Eeyou (Cree) drinkers in Chisasibi, a First Nations community on the eastern James Bay coast, frequently speak truth to power. Both non-Indigenous people and people in their own community have assumptions about “drunks”: that they are lost, disconnected from their culture, or unaware of history. Yet most of the self-identified drinkers who participated in my research project described deep and engaged thoughts about the ongoing impacts of colonization on themselves as individuals and on their families and community. In this presentation, I will share some of the main things I learned from spending time with these individuals.


Jacky has been teaching anthropology at Vanier College since 2002. They took a break from teaching from 2009 to 2012 to conduct PhD research in Chisasibi – their favourite place in the world. Involvement in Indigenous education initiatives at Vanier has been one way to honour this beautiful community.

11:30 a.m.

Montreal Steppers: interactive workshop “1, 2 STEP”
1, 2 STEP with Montreal Steppers

A stepping workshop with Montreal Steppers includes an introduction to foundational step routines. Participants will learn how to clap, stomp and chant as a team. The workshop emphasizes the importance of creating these rhythms and beats together with a focus on teamwork and character building. Each workshop includes dialogues and discussions on the history of step, its inception, the migration of Africans from Africa to North America, South America and the Caribbean. By the end of the workshop each participant will have learned at least two step routines, rhythmic music that they created with their bodies. This is always a proud moment for participants.


Montreal Steppers is a performance collective and non-profit organization committed to the art form of step – a black diasporic dance that uses the body as an instrument to create rhythms and beats, through stomps, claps, and chants. The collective’s praxis centers the lives and aspirations of those most marginalized and to create space and initiatives and foster collaboration across communities to support each other and thrive together.

Founded in 2019, the collective has used stepping to influence dialogue around the importance of black art, black lives, and black history in Canada, by way of workshops and performances. Montreal Steppers have offered educational workshops to over fifteen thousand students in over 50 schools across Montreal. 

Kayin Queeley, born in the federation of St. Kitts & Nevis in the West Indies and now living in Montreal, Canada, is the founder of Montreal Steppers. He fell in love with the art form of step during his studies at SUNY Plattsburgh where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in International Business and a master’s degree in Leadership Studies. Kayin currently works at McGill University where he is engaged in his passions for student development, peer mentoring and community outreach. He unfailingly shares his love for step through his work with young people on campus and in other communities. Since founding the Montreal Steppers in 2019, Kayin and the team have performed at countless events and ran in-person and virtual workshops, both in Montreal and in the U.S. Through step, song, and spoken word, the Montreal Steppers center the importance of Black Lives, Black history/futurity and stories in hopes to inspire, strengthen solidarity, to be in good relation, to reimagine a just world where we can breathe, live, succeed, and thrive differently and together.

2:30 p.m.

Keynote speaker, Gwynne Dyer (military historian, journalist, award-winning documentary maker and author): “War in the 21st century”

The war in Ukraine came as a shock because it was so stupid. How could the Russians think they could just drive some tanks down the freeway to Kyiv, fly in some troops to a local airport, and capture or kill the whole government – when the Ukrainians had had eight years to prepare since the previous invasion? The 'special military operation' was almost certain to fail.

The Russian invasion made no sense because Ukraine posed no threat to Russia, and even conquering it would not enhance Russia's prosperity or its security. Yet Russia did invade. That sort of thing, generalised around the world and throughout history, is why every country feels compelled to prepare for war, although the vast majority of them don't want war.

This lecture will address the specific strategies, tactics and politics of the war in Ukraine, including the potential nuclear dimension of the conflict, but it will also consider the evolving nature and role of war as an institution. Is it unique to human beings, or just the human expression of a more widespread and deeply rooted behaviour? How did it evolve into the different kinds of war people fight nowadays? Have nuclear weapons really “changed everything except the way we think,” as Einstein said? And will we ever be able to stop?

The good news is that we have stopped the traditional wars between the great powers, because they can now kill in the millions. It may not be a permanent halt, but no two great powers have fought each other directly for the past 77 years. They sometimes back proxies, but the fear of stumbling into a nuclear war makes them very cautious about escalation (like the US and Russia in Ukraine).

Any nuclear war would be awful, and even a 'small' one like India vs. Pakistan could cause worldwide famine. Yet nuclear weapons deserve a lot of the credit for staving off bloodbaths like the First and Second World Wars: the global death toll from war has fallen almost every year since 1945.

The deeper effect of the two world wars was to demolish the age-old belief that war is 'glorious' and redefine it as a 'problem'. The first attempts to stop war came after 1918; after 1945 'aggressive war' was made an actual crime, and the effort intensified.

Ending war is at least a hundred-year project. It's not looking that healthy at the moment, but you could have said the same about the anti-slavery movement in 1800 or the campaign for gender equality right now. It's a long road, but it may take us somewhere better in the end.

In the meantime, Ukraine. On the one hand, naked imperialist aggression must be resisted. Even the UN rules say so, although they also give the five 'permanent members', including Russia, an exemption. On the other hand, a nuclear war must be avoided, which means that any direct fighting between nuclear-armed great powers is far too dangerous.

There is no good answer, but we certainly need to discuss it.


Dr. Gwynne Dyer is a Canadian journalist and military analyst who is best known for his radio and television documentaries about war. He was born in Newfoundland and received degrees from Canadian, American and British universities. He originally trained as a historian, and also served in the naval reserves of three countries and taught at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Oxford University. His columns appeared in many papers around the world, and his program War was aired on television in 45 different countries. He has produced numerous award-winning television and radio documentaries, and has published many books on war, the latest of which is The Shortest History of War: From Hunter-Gatherers to Nuclear Superpowers (2022).


October 18, 2023

9:30 a.m.

Danielle Altidor : « Noirs invisibles, voix censurees: L'Ecole et la suite d'une oppression »
synopsis & biography

Danielle Altidor reached her goal to be a teacher at the college level. She completed her undergraduate diploma in French studies and followed up with a Master's to teach French as a second language. However, at the start of her career, she was very disturbed when she noticed that anti-Black racism was still embedded in the fabric of the Quebec school system. Even worse, at this time anti-Black racism is practiced through subliminal and more sophisticated methods. Its practice is veiled behind liberal values like free speech or academic freedom. Nevertheless, for those who have and continue to experience the wrath of anti-Black racism, especially as a kid, the impact can be devastating. From personal experience, she knows how such a situation can hinder a child's academic success. Indeed, she starts her book with her childhood memories as such: « Quand j'étais jeune, je détestais l'école, je rêvais de ne plus y retourner. Le milieu scolaire m'était pénible et je n'y réussissais pas. […]. Le mot en n retentissait régulièrement, dans la cour comme en classe » (Altidor, 2023). The driving force behing her Phd thesi was : la représentation des Noirs dans le milieu scolaire du Québec. Afterwards she published a book : Noirs invisibles : L'école et la suite d'une oppression. She wants to help people understand that anti-Black racism has its roots in slavery. This ideology still lives through more refined practices and vehicles. Black invisibility and voice censorship are the fruit of slavery and colonization and they are taught and maintained through our school system. This is the truth that Danielle will share in her talk.

Noirs invisibles, voix censurées. L'école et la suite d'une oppression

« Quand j'étais jeune, je détestais l'école, je rêvais de ne plus y retourner. Le milieu scolaire m'était pénible et je n'y réussissais pas. […]. Le mot en n retentissait régulièrement, dans la cour comme en classe »
(Altidor, 2023).

Qu'il soit subtil ou évident, le racisme antinoir est un obstacle à la réussite scolaire. Il se traduit souvent par des manques de respect, comme si le corps noir était invisible, comme à l'époque de l'esclavage. C'est ce qui a poussé Dr Altidor à faire son doctorat et à écrire son livre, notamment la perpétuation d'une oppression issue de l'esclavage : les représentations négatives, l'invisibilisation des Noirs et la censure de leur voix. Comment lutter contre ces oppressions ?

Elle donnera des outils aux étudiants pour exceller malgré le racisme. Dr Altidor croit en des établissements scolaires sécuritaires, respectueux permettant aux étudiants de réussir au-delà des différences.

11:00 a.m. in B325

Eric Lamoureux: Interactive workshop on “Who Owes Whom, or how the Third World got to be third”

"Who Owes Whom, or How the Third World Got to be Third" uses popular education techniques to get the group to work out the roots and impacts of the Third World Debt Crisis. It allows participants to see how this crisis has led to underdevelopment globally, as well as issues relating to war, climate change, the refugee crisis, and the fall of democracy.


Eric Lamoureux has taught History at Vanier since 2003, specializing in African and Third World history. He has also been a member of the Vanier Social Justice Committee.

12:30 p.m.

Social Science/Liberal Arts Quiz Show with Moderator Peter Gantous

It's back! Watch as the emcee extraordinaire, Peter Gantous, leads four teams of Vanier Social Science and Liberal Arts students through a highly entertaining series of questions. Which team will win? Come and cheer them on and find out! You are sure to learn and laugh!

4:00 p.m.

Ted Rutland and Maxime Aurelien: “Out to Defend Ourselves”, a discussion of the social history of Montreal's first Haitian street gang, and racial profiling and violence in policing

This talk tells the story of Montreal's first Haitian street gang, les Belangers. It looks at how the gang emerged from a group of Haitian friends and documents the forms of racial violence they experienced and their battles against them. It also describes the everyday lives of the gang members, and how police actions against the gang changed its nature and function - making it, finally, more criminally oriented and violent. It is a story about a gang, and a story of young Haitians making their lives in 1970's and 80's Montreal, and a story about Montreal during a period of great change.


Dr. Ted Rutland is a professor in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment at Concordia University. His research interests include the history of cities and urban planning, history and politics of policing, race and racism, and housing and tenants' rights. As a human geographer and interdisciplinary scholar, he approaches his studies of municipal politics and urban security with a concern for social and racial justice, and documents how ideas about “race” shape dominant urban policies and practices, and also how social and racial justice movements imagine and seek to create different urban worlds. His books include Displacing Blackness: Planning, Power, and Race in Twentieth-Century Halifax (2018) and Out to Defend Ourselves: A History of Monteal's First Haitian Street Gang (2023)

Maxime Aurelien is co-author of Out to Defend Ourselves: A History of Montreal's First Haitian Street Gang. Born in Haiti, he grew up in Montreal and became the first leader of a Haitian street gang in the 1980's. He struggled to turn his life around in the 1990's, confronting ongoing racism, and eventually became a sucessful small business owner in Montreal.


October 19, 2023

11:30 a.m.

Daniel Green (former deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada): “Does electoral politics work any more?”

This talk will analyze problems with the electoral politics system in Canada, and consider the alternative of civil society grass-roots organizing to push for important changes. Mr. Green will reflect on his own experiences with both electoral politics and direct environmental activism.


Daniel Green is a Canadian politician, environmentalist and scientific communicator. Since 2000, he has been a consultant for Sierra Club of Canada, co-president of the Société pour vaincre la pollution (SVP), and collaborator with the Coalition Eau Secours, the Rivers Foundation, Nature Québec and Parks Canada. He was deputy leader of the Green Party of Canada from 2014 until 2019. He regards himself as a hands-on environmental activist, and has run as a Green candidate in four elections.

1:00 p.m.

Ron Charbonneau Memorial Lecture by John Stubbs: “Ukraina: on the edge”

This presentation will focus on the historic relations between Ukrainians and Russians over the centuries. Specifically, the presentation will offer a refutation of the historic claims made by Vladimir Putin in his essay "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians", published on 12 July 2021.


John Stubbs is originally from Toronto. He has lived in Montreal for the past thirty years. He holds degrees from McGill (B.A.) and the University of Toronto (LL.B., M.A.), and has worked at Vanier College for the past seventeen years. Since 2010, he has specialized in teaching Russian History at the College.

2:30 p.m.

Peter Vogopoulos: “The Antifragile Imperative: What Organizations Need to Do to Survive Chaos and Disorder”

Short business and innovation cycles, rapidly evolving sociocultural norms, and technological advances create an environment where turbulence, uncertainty and disruption are no longer uncommon but the new normal.

The ability to persist, survive, and thrive under these circumstances must be part of organizational DNA (whether business, government, or institutional.) In other words, organizations need to be antifragile. Resilient or robust systems shock and stay the same, whereas the antifragile gain from chaos and disorder.

In this talk, Peter Vogopoulos makes the case that building for antifragility isn't a "project" but has become an imperative and failing to do so makes organizations more susceptible to disruptive events. He will discuss the properties every organization needs to become antifragile.


Peter Vogopoulos is a teacher of Business Administration, a Startup Mentor, and a Certified Reinvention Practitioner. For the past twenty years, he has worked with founders, leaders, and CEOs to navigate the rough patches of growth and embed cultures of innovation and reinvention into their organizations.

4:00 p.m.

Martin Geoffroy, director of CEFIR, lecture on “The Far Right”, focusing on the social psychology of people who join right wing extremist groups in Quebec

This lecture will explore the “Far Right”, focusing on the social psychology of people who join right-wing extremist groups in Quebec. The talk is based on four years of research for Public Safety Canada, drawing on his personal interviews with members, ex-members and leaders of far right groups.


Dr. Martin Geoffroy is a sociology professor at Cegep Edouard-Montpetit and the founder of the Centre d'Expertise et de Formation sur les Intégrismes Religieux, les Idéologies Politiques et la Radicalisation (CEFIR). His main research interest is Far-Right movements and conspiracy theories in Quebec, the United States and France. His books include La religion à l'extrême (2009) and The Mystical Geography of Quebec: Catholic Schisms and New Religious Movements (2020).


October 20, 2023

11:30 a.m.

Matthieu Sossoyan: “Buzkashi is the hockey of Afghanistan: the games people play and what they mean”

Over the last 20 years, sports have become a respectable topic in social research. Social scientists now study sports and games from a wide range of perspectives, thus allowing a better understanding of their roles are agents of socialization and vectors of broader identities, ideologies and traditions. In this context, the anthropology of sports has revealed that the games people play and watch constitute a fascinating reflection of their own culture. In this presentation, we dissect a very popular horse game in Afghanistan in order to show how it reflects deeper elements of Afghan culture. We also use a favourite analytical tool of anthropology, comparison, to draw similarities with ice hockey. The goal is to provide an example of how social research about sports can be conducted.


Matthieu Sossoyan has been teaching Anthropology at Vanier since 1999, after completing his Master's degree at McGill. Over a decade ago, he created the Anthropology of Games and Leisure course for students of the Sports and Leisure major. His interest for the topic he will discuss today grew out of numerous exchanges and discussions with students in his anthropology course about sports.

1:00 p.m.

Rafa Islam and Antonia Mabeke (Vanier Social Science students): “Me Too 101”

Many activists have contributed to the growth of communities and have helped millions of women around the world. One of them was Tarana Burke, the creator of the MeToo Movement. This talk will look at the origins of the movement until today, including its growth and changes it brought about in society. The call for justice for all people has sparked many conversations that incite us to re-examine our attitudes towards our current culture. How far have we come from this ground-breaking demand for social change, and what can we learn from it?


Rafa Islam and Antonia Mabeke were both born in Montreal and grew up in immigrant families. They are currently third year Social Science students at Vanier and are passionate about women's and gender studies.

2:30 p.m.

Alexandre Boulerice (MP for Rosemont-La Petite Patrie, and deputy leader of the NDP): “Harmony with Nature and Better Political Institutions”

MP Alexandre Boulerice, deputy leader of the NDP, will talk about the importance of shifting the fossil fuels extracting Canadian obsession toward giving proper rights to nature. He will explain his proposal about giving a legal personality to the Saint-Lawrence River and its tributaries. While prioritizing solutions to tackle the Climate Crisis, MP Boulerice will also put the emphasis on preserving our democratic institutions, and improving them with electoral reforms.


Alexandre Boulerice has been fighting social and environmental injustices since he became an MP twelve years ago. In addition to serving as deputy leader of the party, Alexandre has been the New Democratic Party's spokesperson on a number of issues, including tax justice, the environment, and now workers' rights.

A proud Quebecer, he is a straight talker and remains determined to make the voice of Quebec's progressive movement heard. He is fighting for a radical transformation of our society through a true energy transition and an improved social safety net.