Thursday, November 04, 2010

A Midterm Academic Road Trip

On Friday, October 22 in the midst of midterm exams, essay preparation and course work, U of S history enthusiasts Laura Shaw (3rd year History undergrad), Amy Samson (PhD History), Justin Fisher (4th year History Honours), Sheila Gibbons (MA History), Shannon Coleville (4th year History Honours), Amanda Shea (4th year History Honours) and Professor Erika Dyck participated in a 2-day workshop in Edmonton, Alberta (named in the order they appear in the photograph). The Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) project combines scholars and students with community partners and activists, including sexual sterilization survivors, who are committed to establishing a more inclusive history and the current debate over human rights issues surrounding past practices of sexual sterilization and current experiences of isolation and segregation for people with intellectual disabilities.

The first day of the workshop showcased the summer research that U of S students had conducted on this topic, including presentations about the way this issue has been covered in newspapers (Fisher), how the United Farm Women of Alberta advocated for sexual sterilization of people then deemed "mentally defective" (Gibbons), and the role that public health nurses played in advancing models of femininity and moral motherhood (Samson).
University of Saskatchewan contingent immediately following their stimulating presentations last Friday.

Saturday, October 23 conference participants reassembled at the Edmonton Public Library, where sterilization survivor Leilani Muir (now O'Malley), who is a member of the research team, read a statement from the Mayor of Edmonton, Stephen Mandel, declaring October 23 the "Remembering the History of Eugenics in Alberta" Day in Edmonton. This recognition, Leilani told participants, is a very important step in Alberta's history and a significant achievement for the CURA members. Over the course of the two-day event we worked closely with members of the public, survivors like Leilani and Judy Lytton, scholars and students from universities of Lethbridge, Calgary and Alberta (Edmonton) to promote a more inclusive understanding of mental health, disability and human rights in our society.

Leilani Muir (in the Riders' ball cap) and Judy Lytton (in the Rider's winter hat) pictured with U of S contingent as the conference winds down.
The conference closed just in time for Leilani and Judy to help the Saskatchewan contingent prepare for the Riders v Eskimos game, which ended poorly for the Riders.

U of S contingent in full Rider fan gear, still optimistic that the Riders may not suffer widespread embarrassment in what ultimately resulted in a final score of 39 to 24.

News coverage from the conference can be seen here: