Education and Communities the focus of York U conference


TORONTO, May 6, 2010 -- Aboriginal educators and activists Mary Lou and Dan Smoke will deliver the keynote address at a conference about Education and Communities, being held at York University this week.


The couple, hosts of the newsmagazine program “Smoke Signals” on CHRW 94.9 FM Radio in London, Ont., will perform an Indigenous ceremony to open the Ninth Annual Graduate Conference in Education. Dan Smoke, a member of the Seneca Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy and president of the Board of Directors for the Native News Network of Canada,  works with traditional knowledge carriers from many Nations including Cree, Lakota, Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, Mohawk and Onandaga Nations of the Haudenosaunee. Mary Lou Smoke, a member of the Ojibway Nation, is a gifted writer, singer, guitarist and traditional drummer.


The Smokes’ commitment to enhancing cross-cultural understanding by combining education and artistic expression is in keeping with York’s efforts to bring knowledge about Aboriginal and other communities into teacher education programs in the Faculty of Education, and to incorporate the arts as well.


In September, York’s Faculty of Education launched the “First Nation, Métis and Inuit Infusion Teacher Education Program” at its Barrie campus. York’s Graduate Program in Language, Culture & Teaching, directed by Professor Sandra R. Schecter, brings together faculty and scholars from all disciplines, as well as practitioners from fields including filmmaking, and visual and performance art. The Graduate Program also offers courses such as “Indigeous Ways of Knowing.”


A wide variety of research will be presented at the conference ranging from history (the end of corporal punishment in Toronto schools) to the present (using multilingual digital projects in classrooms), and from the education challenges faced by particular communities (people with disabilities, for example) to the possibilities (supporting music and dance in the curriculum).


A number of films will also be shown during the conference, including “Pelqìlc” (Coming Home) based on York University Professor Celia Haig-Brown’s research about the students of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Spy Dénommé-Welch, a PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Education, and performer Catherine Magowan, will discuss their opera Giiwedin, which successfully premiered at Theatre Passe Muraille in April.


WHAT:   Ninth Annual Graduate Conference in Education, York University

WHEN:   Fri. May 7 and Sat. May 8, 2010

WHERE: Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Building, Keele Campus, York University (#39 on map at

More information, program and bios:


York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 10 Faculties and 28 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.


Media Contact:

Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22101 /