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Photo by Lindsay Thackeray.

Important issues of concern pertaining to Canadian society in the 21st century will be explored as the world’s great minds congregate at Trent University for an international conference called “Contesting Canada’s Future”.

The three day international conference on the study of Canada is a part of Trent University’s 50th anniversary celebrations. It is an interdisciplinary conference that will explore debates and concerns regarding the future of Canada.

A wide spectrum of themes–such as Canadian politics, the state of welfare, the arts, Aboriginal issues, multiculturalism, social inequality, and the environment and science will be debated upon.

“The conference will address many points of view and use many different vantage points to look at Canada,” said conference co-chair and Frost Centre Director Dr. Joan Sangster.

In brief, Dr. Sangster explained that the conference will comprise of small sessions that will bring researchers to present their papers, as well as keynote speakers and key panels on issues of importance. For instance, one panel will deal with Canada in the global context, another will address the future of work in Canada, she said. The conference will also include events sponsored by the local cultural community.

The keynote speakers will include Erica Lee, co-founder of Idle No More, and Mary Simon, a former Trent Chancellor and expert on the Inuit North. Furthermore, on the first evening, author Miriam Toews will do a reading at Market Hall.

The aim of the the conference is to showcase cutting-edge research, generate discussion about important issues of concern in Canadian society, and also stimulate new debate about research and writing on Canada.

“Conferences relating to Canadian Studies are only held intermittently but this one is particularly large, comprehensive, and covers an extensive number of topics and issues,” said Dr. Sangster. Furthermore, it is also international in scope and many presenters will come from countries across the globe, as the International Council for Canadian Studies is meeting during the conference at Trent, she added.

When asked about the importance of bringing it to Trent, she made aware that the conference is tied into the celebration of Trent’s 50th anniversary.

“Trent’s founding president, T.H.B. Symons, made Canadian Studies an integral part of the new university in its youth, and Canadian Studies has remained a key signifier of what Trent represents,” she said.

“Trent is known internationally for its academic undergraduate and graduate programs in Canadian Studies as well as its research across the sciences, social sciences and humanities, relating to Canada, its land and its peoples. The 50th anniversary committee suggested that we hold a conference to celebrate our academic excellence in this area.”

The conference will run from from May 21 through 23.