Canadian Critical Race Conference 2003:
Pedagogy and Practice


Biographical Notes:

(in alphabetical order)


Nahla Abdo
Nahla Abdo (Ph.D.) is an Arab feminist activist and Professor of Sociology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. She has authored extensive publications on women, racism, nationalism and the State in the Middle East with special focus on Palestinian women. She has also researched gender, race, class and ethnic issues among immigrant women in Canada. Among her publications is 'Sociological Thought: Beyond Eurocentric Theory' (1996); 'Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation: Palestinian and Israeli Gendered Narratives of Dislocation' (2002 -with Ronit Lentin) and a forthcoming book, 'Sexuality, Citizenship and the Nation-State: Palestinian Experiences.' Dr. Abdo has published numerous articles on women, the state and Shari’a laws, State and institutional racism with special attention to the relationship between the NATIVES/ABORIGINALS and the settler colonial state.

Dr. Abdo is also the founder of the Gender Research Unit at the Women's Empowerment Project/Gaza Community Mental Health Program in Gaza; the co-founder of Women Against Occupation and a contributor to the establishment of the Women's Studies Institute at Birzeit University. In Canada, she co-founded the network CASPA - Canadian Academics in Solidarity with Palestinian Academics, and is still active in this network. She also co-founded Women Against Occupation, and is an active member of its Steering Committee. For more information, please consult and


Jeannette Christine Armstrong
Jeannette Armstrong is Okanagan and a recognized Canadian author and artist. Her published works include two children's books, one of which won the Children's Book Centre 'Our Choice' award. She has published a critically acclaimed novel 'Slash' and a collection of poetry 'Breath Tracks,' and collaborated with renowned Native architect Douglas Cardinal on the book 'Native Creative Process.'

She has been anthologized numerously and has published poetry and articles in a wide variety of journals. She recently published a new novel 'Whispering In Shadows,' with Theytus books. She has a BFA, First Class, from the University of Victoria, and was recently distinguished with an Honourary Doctorate of Letters from St. Thomas University, Fredericton. Her collaboration Indian Woman on Cargo Record release, 'Till The Bars Break' was nominated for a Canadian Juno award. Her performances include a story telling local T.V. mini-series and Vision TV talk show appearance on 'Arts Express.'

Jeannette is the Executive Director of the En'owkin International School of Writing and Arts, an extention program with the U of Victoria. She is a traditional science council member of the Okanagan Nation. She is an advocate of Indigenous rights, appointed to the Council of Listeners in the International Testimonials on Violations to Indigenous Sovereignty and appointed one of seven Indigenous Judges to the First Nations Court of Justice called by the Chiefs of Ontario. She serves as an international observer to the Continental Coordinating Commission of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations.

She is an advocate of a healthy environment and social change in which peace between all peoples is central. She has served as consultant to many environmentalist and social change organizations, including the Esalen Institute, the Omega Institute, the Centre for Ecoliteracy and the Centre for Creative Change and the World Institute for Humanities at Salado and has published numerous articles on the impacts of globalization.

Jeannette has served on various international councils and working groups on wide variety of issues. Jeannette had the opportunity to address conferences and assemblies on a wide range of topics in universities in Japan, Moscow, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand as well as the USA and Canada. She has addressed a World Conference on Indigenous Education as a keynote speaker as well as the World Council of Churches on Racism in education, media and the church. Jeannette is currently serving on the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.


Wayson Choy
A graduate of the Creative Writing Program at the University of British Columbia, Wayson Choy has devoted his life to the craft of writing as well as to teaching it. His much acclaimed novel, The Jade Peony, won him the 1996 Trillium Book Award (co-winner with Margaret Atwood) and the City of Vancouver Book Award (1996). It was also selected as a 1998 American Library Association Notable Book. His memoir, Paper Shawdows, won him the 2000 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non Fiction.

While his writing focuses specifically on the Chinese-Canadian experience, his message crosses the barriers of ethnic origin. Recently retired from thirty-five years of teaching English at Humber College in Toronto, Wayson Choy continues to contribute as a storyteller and activist. He has accepted many invitations to do public readings, to serve as keynote speaker, panelist or lecturer in addressing topics related to personal narratives, racism, and cultural diversity. He also conducts workshops on teaching techniques that challenge racist and sexist attitudes in the classroom.

Wayson Choy was recently a host on the co-produced China-Canada film 'In Search of Confucius' and was the subject of a full-length documentary called 'Unfolding the Butterfly,' by Michael Glassbourg.


Sherene Razack
Sherene Razack is a professor in the Department of Sociology & Equity Studies in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISIE), University of Toronto. Before obtaining her Ph.d in education, she worked in the area of human rights, teaching trade unionists, community activists, legal practitioners, government employees, teachers and students on a variety of social justice issues. Her books include an edited collection Race, Space and the Law: Unmapping A White Settler Society (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002), and two authored books, Looking White People in the Eye: Gender, Race, and Culture in Courtrooms and Classrooms (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998,1999, 2000) and Canadian feminism and the Law: The Women’s Legal and Education Fund and the Pursuit of Equality (Toronto: Second Story Press, 1991).

She has also published articles on Canadian national mythologies and immigration policies of the 1990s, race, space and prostitution, and gendered racism. Her forthcoming book The White Man and His Burden: A Critical Study of Peacekeeping is an examination of the violence of Canadian peacekeepers in Somalia and an exploration of the role of law in violence enacted on racialized bodies in the new world order. Dr. Razack teaches at the graduate level. Her courses include racism and the law, race and knowledge production, race, space and citizenship, and marginality and the politics of resistance. She was the director of the Centre for Integrative Anti-racism Studies from 1999-2002.


Graham Hingangaroa Smith
Professor Smith a prominent Maori education activist has been at the forefront of the alternative Maori initiatives in the education field and beyond. His recent academic work has centred on developing theoretically informed transformative strategies related to intervening in Maori cultural, political, social, educational and economic crises. He is involved in the development of Tribal Universities and is the Chairperson of Te Whare Wananga O Awanuiarangi. In his present position as Pro Vice Chancellor (Maori) he is developing a Maori University structure within the University of Auckland.

Professor Smith's earlier training is in Social Anthropology and he completed a MA (Hons) dissertation on 'Maori Rituals of Encounter'. He was the first teacher of a Kura Kaupapa Maori school, (Maori philosophy and principles based School), which has grown from a single school in 1988 to over seventy-five publicly funded schools in 1999. His theoretical leadership has informed the emergence of Maori Education Studies as a distinct entity within the Tertiary Sector in particular New Zealand Universities. This work has developed a wide-ranging academic discussion centred on Kaupapa Maori Theory, Critical Theory and Transformative Praxis.

Professor Smith has made significant contributions to the political, social, economic and cultural advancement of indigenous Maori communities. He has also worked extensively with other Indigenous/ First Nation's peoples across the world, including Canada, Hawaii, the US mainland, Taiwan, Chile, Australia and the Pacific nations. He is a regular contributor to national forums on indigenous issues and has also been an authoritative voice to international forums on indigenous education issues. Professor Smith has been an active contributor to the critical debate on 'race' and 'ethnicity' both in New Zealand and abroad.

Professor Smith is one the most influential educators in New Zealand today. He has published widely and is in demand as a commentator on national and international indigenous matters. He is of Ngati Apa, Ngati Kahungunu, Kai Tahu and Ngati Porou tribal descent.

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