Virtual experience

Congress 2021 News

Congress 2021 News


A message from our Board Chair about Congress 2021 
Virtual Congress 2021 sets the stage for change 
Message to member associations
Ibram X. Kendi to speak at Congress 2021
Let's talk about the North
Congress 2021 goes virtual

March 22, 2021

A message from our Board Chair about Congress 2021

Dear members of the Federation, 

I'd like to begin by expressing my deepest sympathy and support for the victims of the recent and horrific acts of anti-Asian violence in Atlanta. These brutal racist and misogynistic acts and the recent widespread outbreak of anti-Asian racism are part of longstanding, deeply-rooted and ongoing systemic discrimination against Asians in Canada. We stand in solidarity against anti-Asian racism, with Asian colleagues, students and communities.

There is no doubt Congress 2021 will be a different kind of Congress – not least because it will be virtual. 

The past year has been turbulent. But it has forced us to stop, reflect, listen, learn, make space and to act. 

We must honour the decision of the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA), and others who have chosen not to attend Congress this year. It is important that we strive to respect and support each other during this challenging time. 

Like many others, I plan on taking part in Congress this year, partly because it is a unique opportunity to have timely, national conversations about the scourges of anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Asian racism.

Congress offers a platform for cross-disciplinary dialogue, learning and collective action. It gives us the opportunity to work together and start making the transformative changes that we need in Congress, the Federation, and ourselves. Together we can create a safer and more welcoming space for members of our community who have been marginalized, excluded, and silenced. 

When I first attended the Canadian Sociological Association’s annual conference at Congress, I was a young woman from a working-class, immigrant family who had just started her MA. Being there opened my eyes to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there was a place for me in this unfamiliar but exciting intellectual space.

Before then, I never imagined in a million years I could pursue a doctorate, or that someday I would have the privilege of empowering and mentoring students and junior scholars. Attending my first Congress in Ottawa at the age of 22, and then my second, and then my third… gave me the opportunity to watch and to learn; and to slowly gain the courage to share my ideas as I began to deepen my knowledge and to grow. Now, 30 years later I feel an obligation to do everything I can to make those same opportunities available to others. 

For six months, the Congress Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Decolonization has worked independently to critically review, consult and deeply examine how we must change Congress and the Federation, to confront racism and colonialism, and make our events more welcoming, more accessible, and more inclusive. When the Committee’s final report is released in early April, it will be shared with all of you. The Federation will move swiftly to follow up on the Committee’s recommendations in dialogue with our members.  

We hope that you will stand up and join us in dialogue and action, on this important path towards transformative change.


Patrizia Albanese
Chair, Board of Directors
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

March 19, 2021

‘Instead of doing the smallest possible change so we have the least disruption […], we have the opportunity to invite, to lean into the disruption.’ – Danielle Peers


A former professor of English and Comparative Literature, Alice Sheppard took her first dance class in order to make good on a dare. She ended up loving moving so much that she resigned her academic professorship to begin a career in dance. As a dancer and choreographer, Sheppard welcomes the invitation of intersectional disability aesthetics, culture, and history as creative and innovative forces that transform our understanding of dance and the disability arts movement. 

Alice Sheppard photo image

‘My life changed when, in 2004, I saw disabled dancer Homer Avila take the stage. That performance […] led me from my world as an English and Comparative Literature professor to a life of dance.’
Photo description: Alice Sheppard, a multi-racial Black woman with coffee-coloured skin, blonde, copper, and red striped curly hair gazes towards the camera. She wears a black shirt; her face rests in the palm of her hand, her elbow sits on her thigh, and a gold necklace gleams at her neck. [Accessibility caption provided by artist] Photo Credit: Beverlie Lord
  • Congress is proud to present, as part of its popular Big Thinking lecture series, “Disability Will (re)Make The Arts” by Alice Sheppard on June 1, 2021 from 12:00 to 13:00 (MT). Open to all Congress attendees. 
  • The Big Thinking lecture series is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Universities Canada.

As per our commitment to make Congress as accessible as possible to all members of our community, we are working to ensure the Big Thinking lecture series includes ASL/LSQ, simultaneous interpretation, and captioning.


*Now open* If you are a member of the public, this event can be accessed by purchasing a community pass.

If you are registered to attend an association’s conference, this event is included in your registration. If you are not yet registered for your association’s conference, register here.


Danielle Peers, Canada Research Chair in Disability and Movement Cultures, Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, University of Alberta

Danielle Peers photo imageDanielle Peers’ research builds on expertise as a Paralympic athlete, disability sport coach, inclusive recreation practitioner, social justice activist, and dance and video artist. Danielle’s work in each of these areas employs art-based and research-creation methodologies to produce and share knowledges with 2SLGBTQI+ and disability communities.

Photo description: Dr. Danielle Peers is seated in a wheelchair and smiles, looking directly into the camera.


  • Watch the University of Alberta video featuring Danielle Peers!


Join us virtually from May 27 to June 4, 2021! Visit

February 11, 2021

On behalf of the Federation, we are deeply sorry that the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA) will not be participating in Congress 2021. We wish to apologize for not doing enough to give the BCSA confidence in our commitment to fight anti-Black racism. While we have been working to make many changes, we recognize there is much more we must do.

To restate the commitment of our Board and staff, we are working hard to make Congress more equitable, accessible, and inclusive, and to foreground conversations on anti-Black racism and decolonization. 

Towards the goal of doing better, we will do the following:

First, Congress 2021 fees will be waived for students who self-identify as Black or Indigenous. In addition, community passes will be complimentary for members of the general public who self identify as Black or Indigenous. We will communicate the specific details as to how this will be administered in the next few days.

Second, without pre-empting the final report and recommendations of the Congress Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization, the Federation will work with future Congress institutional partners to prioritize Black and Indigenous experience and scholarship in Canada. We commit to a future face-to-face Congress theme centred on this, building on the advocacy of the BCSA and developed in consultation with Black scholars, First Nations, Inuit and Métis scholars and communities, and with scholarly associations.

We look forward to continuing to collaborate with all of you to create the space at Congress for those important conversations to take place. In the leadup to this, we are committed to and urge you to work with your home institutions to promote Black scholarship, and Black and Indigenous Studies.

We will also continue the work that is underway, including:

  • A focus on anti-Black racism, equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization for much of the Federation and University of Alberta programming at Congress 2021, including an outstanding Big Thinking lineup.
  • Supporting participating associations in their continued commitment to inclusive programming and to building strong coalitions
  • The deployment of our funding programs to support graduate students, international speakers and interdisciplinary research sessions.
  • The opening of registrations for a $25 community pass giving access to over 100 hours of on-demand and live Congress activities. Again, this pass will be complimentary to Black and Indigenous registrants.
  • Congress fees will continue to be discounted by 25% across all registration categories.

Thank you for your continued support as we remain committed to working with our entire community to make Congress truly inclusive.

Gabriel Miller, President and CEO
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

February 1, 2021

Ibram X. Kendi to speak at Congress 2021 

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the University of Alberta are pleased to announce that professor and anti-racist activist Ibram X. Kendi will deliver a Big Thinking lecture titled How To Be An Antiracist at the 2021 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences on May 31, 2021.  

With opened minds, people are actively trying to understand racism. In this deeply personal and empowering conversation, Kendi will shift the discussion from how not to be racist to how to be an antiracist. He will also share his own racist ideas and how he overcame them.

Open to all Congress registered attendees.

For more information on Ibram X. Kendi, please visit

For more information about Kendi’s lecture at Congress 2021, visit

January 19, 2021

Let’s Talk About the North

The 2021 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences invites the HSS community to discuss “Northern Relations”

“If we continue to allow the Arctic to melt, we lose more than the planet that has nurtured us […]; we lose the wisdom required for us to sustain it.” – Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Sheila Watt-Cloutier grew up in the traditional ice-based hunting culture of the Inuit community of Kuujjuaq in Arctic Canada, where she was raised by a single mother and grandmother, and travelled only by dogteam for the first 10 years of her life. A Nobel Peace Prize nominee (2007), Sheila became one of the most influential Indigenous environmental, cultural, and human rights advocates in the world, speaking about how Indigenous life, human rights, and the threat of climate change are inextricably linked.


  • Thanks to the support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Congress is proud to present, as part of its popular Big Thinking lecture series “Everything is connected: Environment, economy, foreign policy, sustainability, human rights and leadership in the 21st century” by Sheila Watt-Cloutier on June 3, 2021. Open to all Congress registrants. 
  • The Big Thinking series is sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.


Over four years ago, when the University of Alberta became the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences’ partner university for Congress 2021, a theme had to be selected. A focus on the North seemed fitting for a partner institution with broad expertise in Northern research embodied by the six-decade history of UAlberta North and its predecessor the Canadian Circumpolar Institute. Building upon its strong ties with Northern communities and peoples, and a commitment to reciprocal and respectful relations, the University of Alberta chose “Northern Relations” as the theme for Congress 2021, leading to the design of a striking logo. 

“The Congress 2021 logo features a mother bear and her cub crossing the land beneath a vibrant sky of northern lights,” explained Michael O’Driscoll, Congress 2021 Academic Convenor, University of Alberta.

“The bear is a sign of courage, and so it invites all of us, scholars of all disciplines, to find the courage to talk about those hard conversations,” said Florence Glanfield, member of the Métis Nation of Alberta and Vice-Provost, Indigenous Programming & Research, University of Alberta.


At the University of Alberta, northern research spans a variety of fields and topics. Below are a few examples of areas of expertise that relate to northern research on campus, many of which will contribute to conversations at Congress 2021:

  • Digital storytelling in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region 
  • Indigenous knowledges and community-based resource management
  • Inuit literatures and language revitalization
  • Anthropology of northern communities and geopolitics of resource frontiers 
  • Norse mythology and the Viking Age
  • Archaeology of life histories in Northeast Asia  
  • Culturally-grounded architectural design in the Northwest Territories  
  • Pedagogy of land-based learning

Crystal Fraser, a Northerner herself, is Gwichyà Gwich'in from Inuvik and Dachan Choo Gę̀hnjik in the Northwest Territories. A member of the Department of History and Classics and the Faculty of Native Studies, Professor Fraser’s ground-breaking work has focused on student experiences at residential schools in the Inuvik Region. 


Congress, as Canada’s largest gathering of scholars, aims to create opportunities to highlight Indigenous scholarship and perspectives, as well as offer a platform to carry forward the critical conversations on decolonization and anti-Black racism. Our hope is that Canadian and international scholarly voices will converge together at Congress 2021, share ideas, and contribute to this place that we call Canada, in all of its complexity.

Join us virtually from May 27 to June 4, 2021! Visit

October 30, 2020

Congress 2021 goes Virtual

Dear colleagues,

Many things have changed since COVID-19 entered our lives, but one stubborn fact has remained the same: large, in-person gatherings are a public health risk. While we are all hoping for a breakthrough against the pandemic soon, public health officials are telling us it could be another year or more before we can safely go back to in-person meetings.

Congress is unique in many ways, but like thousands of other events around the world, it must respond to the realities of this ongoing global health emergency. Congress must adapt, just as we all have had to do, at home, with our colleagues, and in the classroom.

So today, I wish to inform you that the Federation, in partnership with the University of Alberta, will hold Congress 2021 entirely online. Together, we have a historic opportunity to demonstrate to the world that it is possible to have an equitable, accessible and environmentally sustainable virtual conference.

We arrived at our decision after spending the past few months carefully researching our options while listening to the needs of our members. The Federation is especially grateful for the extraordinary contributions of two Congress advisory groups: the Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization (EDID) and the Task Force on Congress Contingency Planning. A summary of their work to date is now being finalized.

The work carried out by the Congress Advisory Committee on EDID, under the leadership of its Chair Dr. Malinda S. Smith and Vice-Chair Dr. Noreen Golfman, has given us an invaluable opportunity to humbly listen and learn. What we heard was that EDID must drive all aspects of planning and implementation, and we will work with all associations to develop Congress-wide EDID principles and practices. We must create opportunities to highlight Indigenous scholarship and perspectives, and lead the conversation on decolonization and anti-Black racism. There is still a long way to go, and the EDID Committee’s work continues, but we are committed to delivering the most accessible, equitable, and inclusive Congress possible. We are committed to embarking upon the necessary process of decolonization alongside member associations and our Congress partners.

The Task Force on Congress Contingency Planning, co-chaired by Director of Congress and Events Laura Chajkowski and Congress 2021 Academic Convenor Dr. Michael O’Driscoll, benefited greatly from the input of association executive members from across the Federation, and association input during our Virtual Planning Meeting in September. As a result, the Federation and the University of Alberta will offer you the technical support and training you need so that you and your members can focus on presenting your research and engaging in important conversations. We will provide the best-in-class online conferencing platform, so that you can enjoy a seamless virtual experience and lifelike networking with your peers. And we will maintain high-level impact for researchers, students, scholarly organizations, and publishers, and continue to support interdisciplinary sessions, national and international keynotes and graduate students through funding opportunities.

When the largest gathering of academics in Canada goes online, it opens up a world of possibilities for its participants. Congress 2021 will bridge divides as it breaks down geographic borders, create an avenue for higher attendance to conferences and events, and greater membership retention and acquisition opportunities. Our attendees will enjoy increased visibility for their research, and more time to browse the open events catalogue, all from the comfort of their homes or offices, and without incurring financial or environmental costs for travel and accommodations. So please join us!

Thank you for your continued support. We look forward to welcoming you to make this Congress a ground-breaking, unprecedented event.

Patrizia Albanese
Chair, Board of Directors
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences


Virtual Congress Fast Facts

Commitment to EDID

  • We are determined to uphold equity, diversity, inclusion and decolonization (EDID) across all Congress activities. As it stands, Congress does not address the needs of everyone, and we are working tirelessly to offer the most accessible, equitable and inclusive Congress possible.
  • summary of the work of the Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization (EDID) is being finalized.

Congress dates

  • Congress 2021 has been extended by two days, starting on Thursday, May 27 and ending on Friday, June 4, 2021. This will allow associations to extend their number of programming days and accommodate time zone constraints, screen fatigue issues, and the needs of members working from demanding home environments.


  • Congress 2021 will take place on a robust online platform supported by an infrastructure capable of hosting hundreds of simultaneous events of all types.

Fees & registration 

  • Registration fees will be discounted by 25% across all registrant types.
  • Registration will be required to access the virtual event platform for the safety and care of all attendees. 

Programming & funding 

  • Congress 2021 will feature the full suite of conferencing activities, from academic sessions to creative performances, book launches, networking and social event opportunities and meetings with editors and publishers.
  • The Interdisciplinary Sessions and International Keynote funds, as well as the Congress Graduate Merit Awards will remain in place.