Countdown to Congress: An Opportunity for Meaningful Discussions

A look at some of the events and themes of Congress 2021, May 27 - June 4, 2021.


Congress 2021 is about to get underway. From May 27 through June 4, the University of Alberta, in partnership with the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, will host the largest virtual academic conference in Canadian history, tackling some of the most pressing concerns of our day: decolonization, combatting anti-Black racism, and a range of critical issues under the theme of “Northern Relations.” 

This is exciting stuff: we at the University of Alberta have a chance to establish a set of important legacies. We can demonstrate to the world the promise and value of high impact, environmentally sustainable, affordable, and accessible conferencing. We can use this moment of disruption to refocus our attention on what it means to put equity, diversity, and inclusion at the centre of conferencing practices and conversations. We can stage dialogues led by students, scholars, knowledge keepers, and public intellectuals drawing from their expertise and experience as members of equity-deserving groups to point towards substantive change and better futures.

As I look ahead to Congress 2021, I see a range of exciting opportunities including not only public talks, scholarly panels and professional development sessions, but also creative performances, exhibitions and wellness activities. 

Among them, one stands out for me as absolutely vital. Organized by Indigenous Peoples Education (IPE) faculty member Rebecca Sockbeson, in her role as Associate Director of Intersections of Gender, the session is titled “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: Indigenous Women on Rising Up.” The event is scheduled for Friday, May 28, from 2:30-4:30pm MT, and you can find out more about it here. Hosted by Professor Sockbeson and featuring Commissioner Michele Audette, the event will share thinking and address findings of the 2019 Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) from Indigenous activists, community centered scholars, and organizers.  The program also offers performances of Indigenous artists as creative expressions of impact to the realities of MMIWG.  The report generated 231 “Calls for Justice '' identified as legal imperatives, and this series of discussions seeks to mobilize action for MMIWG in the academy with the intention to impact the education system and society at large. 

Please join us for this important moment, and for so much more that will be happening throughout Congress 2021. Every day, hundreds of virtual sessions will take place, driven from operational centres across North America from which the Congress partners and participating associations, supported by our platform provider Virtual Event Place, will work alongside hundreds of remotely positioned event technicians, customer service representatives, and volunteer room monitors to ensure a successful Congress experience for everyone involved.

You can find community passes here that provide access to all Congress open programming. For students, scholars, and community members who self-identify as Indigenous or Black, those passes are complimentary. 

Welcome to Congress 2021!

Michael O’Driscoll