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Liberating the voices of the unheard: Black and Indigenous peoples at the forefront of activism

March 21, 2019
5:30 PM - 7:00 PM
George Vari Engineering Building, The Sears Atrium, 3rd Floor, 245 Church St, Toronto
Open To
General public
Feminisms & Transformative Change, Liberating the voices of the unheard

Black and Indigenous peoples have been at the forefront of activism for many years, but their voices are often the ones left out of the conversation when it comes to feminism. Transformational feminisms mean dismantling the current context of feminism and opening it up to more inclusive voices that do not conform to the gender norm.


Lynn Lavallée, Strategic Lead, Indigenous Resurgence, Faculty of Community Services & Associate Professor, School of Social Work

As an Anishinaabek Qwe registered with the Métis Nation of Ontario, Lynn Lavallée’s ancestral roots stem from the Anishinaabe and Métis (Algonquin, Ojibwe and French) from Sudbury, Temiscaming, Timmins, Maniwaki and Swan Lake regions. The family names from her mother’s ancestry include Labelle, Lafond, Godon, and McIvor and on her father’s side includes Gauthier, Pepin, Taylor, Richard, Caya/Cada and Lavallee/Lavalley dit Paquette.    

Lavallée has extensive university administrative experience, which she feels has been necessary in advancing Indigenous knowledge in the academy and supporting Indigenous students, staff and faculty.  Lavallée began her academic career in 2005 at Ryerson University in the School of Social Work and is currently the FCS, strategic lead, Indigenous resurgence after recently returning from the University of Manitoba where she held the position of vice provost, Indigenous engagement for just over one year. The knowledge and experience she gained in the vice provost position will undoubtedly serve the FCS well in elevating initiatives focusing on Indigenous resurgence.


Pascale Diverlus (Journalism ’17), Communications Specialist, Educator and Activist

Hailing from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Pascale Diverlus is a communications specialist, digital strategist, educator, and community organizer. In 2014, Diverlus co-founded Black Lives Matter - Toronto (BMLTO), the first international chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement; a trans-feminist movement committed to the preservation of black art, black space, black families, and black life. There, her work is focused on curriculum development, public education, and direct action coordination. Diverlus is also a core organizer of BLMTO’s biggest actions, including #BLMTOtentcity and halting Toronto Pride to highlight the over policing of Toronto’s black queer and trans community.

More broadly, Diverlus is an independent consultant supporting organizations on equity-based assessments, internal review, and in the implementation of practices, policies and protocols centred on equity and human rights practices. In this role, she centres her passions in equity, communications and developing social media strategy. Distinct to her work is the use of ancestral and community-driven storytelling traditions and methods that are integrated within contemporary communications platforms. She supports entrepreneurs, independent businesses, and non-profits in building sustainable online presence and effective communications to members and potential buyers.

Diverlus is the recipient of the J.S. Woodswoorth Human Rights Award, the Viola Desmond Award and the Evelyn Myrie Political Action Award. Under her leadership, BLMTO has been recognized as Pride Toronto's 2016 Honoured Group, Now Magazine's Best Activist Group, and the City of Toronto's William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations.

Diverlus is grateful to all those who came before her and took time to care in instilling in her all of the knowledge and expertise she is able to share. Diverlus is a revolutionist, a semi-professional twerker and a firm believer We Will Win.

Phyllis McKenna, Vice-President of Equity and Campaigns, CESAR and co-founder and current member, Indigenous Students Rising

Phyllis Mckenna is an Anishinaabe/Celtic Kwe (womyn) who resides in Toronto. She is a M’Chigeeng First Nation band member on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. In 2017, Mckenna was the National Circle of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Students chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students. She is currently serving her third term as the vice-president of equity and campaigns at the Continuing Education Students Association at Ryerson (CESAR) and is a student. Mckenna is an award-winning short story writer, and a newly published author (opening and closing) “Indigeneity and Decolonial Resistance; Alternatives to colonial thinking and practice” (an educator’s textbook), edited by Dei & Jaimungal (2018). She uses her poetry and short stories to politicise her Identity and to challenge academia’s ways in which we share knowledge. She is a powerful storyteller and public speaker who inspires and shines. Mckenna has a strong desire to nurture and support future generations of Indigenous writers/leaders that will follow her.

Olson Crow, Executive of Student Affairs, Ryerson Indigenous Students' Association and National 2S and Transgender Constituency Rep, Canadian Federation of Students

Olson Crow is a 2S Ryerson student in the criminology program who uses they/them or he/him pronouns. He was the first Indigenous executive of the Ryerson Students' Union in all 50 years of its history. Currently, Crow sits as the executive of student affairs for the Ryerson Indigenous Students' Association and national 2S and transgender constituency rep for the Canadian Federation of Students. Since starting at Ryerson, Crow has been a part of a lot of actions on campus such as the Canada150 campaign and the senate meeting shut down about free speech policies. Crow hopes to continue to stir things up until they eventually graduate.

If you require any accessibility accommodations to ensure your inclusion in this event, please note on your registration or contact Sally Park at or 416-979-5000, ext. 3481.

The event will be hosted by Peggy Nash, a distinguished visiting professor in the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Community Services. This panel is part of a speaker series, Feminisms and Transformative Change, co-sponsored by both faculties.