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Standing Up for What’s Right

Community engagement in social justice issues focus of Annual Distinguished Lecture

Last fall, the controversy over the Parti Québécois' proposed Charter of Values for Quebec sparked a debate over whether Canada—and Canadians—have really embraced an acceptance of the diversity among us.

“We see what happens when all members of the community are not fully engaged in the important work of community-building,” says Darren Lund.   “The debates in the public sphere over this proposed charter for Quebec have really highlighted a number of important shared Canadian values, while reminding us of the tremendous amount of work yet to be done.”

While educators and other professionals are encouraged to attend to social justice issues in their practice, many find this task to be challenging. Lund, a professor in the Werklund School of Education, says collaborative work is key to working through the challenges. 

“We work together and with other faculties, along with students and school and community leaders to encourage all of us to shape the kinds of welcoming schools and workplaces that will allow every person to flourish.”

“We’re much better when we work together.”

Last fall, Lund was chosen as the Werklund School’s Distinguished Research Lecturer; his presentation “Engaging Community in Social Justice Initiatives” highlighted his belief that engaging everyone in the community in bringing about social and institutional changes toward social justice requires respectful collaborations with shared goals.

Lund’s talk offered specific strategies and examples that include some of the challenges and joys of this complex work. His hoped to foster enthusiasm, and better prepare educators, researchers, community agencies, and others to engage in collaborative equity efforts. “In standing up for social justice, we can collectively attend to diversity with renewed confidence even in the face of some significant political and cultural resistance,” he says.

“Social justice is a broad umbrella that encompasses a wide range of formal and informal efforts to eliminate barriers and promote equitable opportunities for all,” he explains. “Social justice has fairness and equity at its core, and can take the form of any programs, policies, or practices that seek to reduce forms of discrimination, and create a level playing field for all.”

Introduction by Dr. Sharon Friesen.

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Shirley Steinberg and Shelly Russell-Mayhew discuss what Barbie — and her friends — tell us about the messages society sends to children.

Darren Lunds talks about community engagement in social justice issues

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