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U of G activists in residence unite activism with academia

Nneka MacGregor and Dr. Marsha Hinds Myrie hope to foster connections between activism and academia at the University of Guelph

Two new activists-in-residence bring not only scholarship to the University of Guelph, but their valuable lived experience.

Nneka MacGregor and Dr. Marsha Hinds Myrie look forward to creating spaces on campus to encourage conversation about the role of research in social action as they help to foster connections between activism and academia.

Hinds Myrie brings over 23 years of experience to her new role as she continues her work with survivors of gender-based violence in Barbados. 

Developing an advocacy model to address the issues of underprivileged groups of women in Barbados and the Commonwealth Caribbean, Hinds Myrie’s major focus is to encourage the use of victim-defined services for women and girls affected by various types of gender-based violence.

She aims to generate greater attention of systemic oppression.

“We’ve talked about equity, diversity and inclusion for about 15 years now in the context of Western universities. And they have made gains,” Hinds Myrie said.

“But what I would like to do in this role, is to continue to challenge those more traditional constructions of how we approach this, especially when it comes to social justice issues, looking at who’s knowledge counts and who’s world view counts?”

As a Canadian, Hinds Myrie has lived her entire life between Barbados and Canada.

“I am not either/or. Both of are part of my identity and who I am. I want to encourage Canada to begin to see the large diaspora of Caribbean-identified Canadians living in Canada and their very significant contributions,” Hinds Myrie said.

“When we think of the Black Caribbean community, there are so many gifts that Canada has been given, diversity of food, diversity of culture, a clear Black tradition in terms of dress, thoughts and culture."

The purpose of the activists-in-residence program, is to strengthen the connections between activists and academic researchers who may be working towards common goals, such as ending gender-based violence, something that Nneka MacGregor heavily supports through her own experience as a survivor of intimate partner violence.

In 2008, MacGregor co-founded the Women’s Centre for Social Justice, known as WomenattheCentrE, the first incorporated organization in Canada created explicitly ‘by survivors, for survivors’. The organization supports women and trans and gender non-conforming people, and engages men and boys about education and law reform. 

As a Black intersectional, Transformative Accountability & Justice practitioner and abolitionist feminist, MacGregor is also a respected international speaker and trainer. Her research focuses on femicide, sexual violence, and the intersection of strangulation, traumatic brain injury, and inter-personal violence.

"What I’m hoping to bring is a message of hope, primarily for the student population, to help them understand that they have the power to change their world because through social justice work, things get done,” MacGregor said.

Each year, the activist-in-residence program will undertake a different combination of activities and work based on the expertise of those chosen to fill the role in hopes of fostering community, knowledge-sharing, and research collaboration by engaging in research methods that centre the voices of members of justice-seeking communities.

Additionally, a course on research and activism is also being explored.

As MacGregor and Hinds Myrie interact with the U of G community, they hope to inspire students about the role of activism in their lives. 

"Through student activism things get done. So, for myself, to be in this space, I want to share the types of work that I do, the types of changes that I’ve had, not just in the Canadian landscape, but globally,” MacGregor said.

“I’m hoping that it will inspire students, as individuals or collectives, to really turn the world around, and to do something great."

As a part of Black History Month, Hinds Myrie and MacGregor will hold a fireside chat to discuss Black women’s leadership in resisting and responding to gender-based violence locally, globally and transnationally.

All members of the Guelph community are invited to join on Feb. 8 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Guelph Black Heritage Society’s Heritage Hall.  For more information, visit here.


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Barbara Latkowski

About the Author: Barbara Latkowski

Barbara graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Western University and has covered politics, arts and entertainment, health, education, sports, courts, social justice, and issues that matter to the community
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