Human Rights and Equity Conference 2023

Human Rights and Equity Conference 2023 Logo

BCNU’s human rights and equity (HRE) conference took place on Thursday, Nov. 30 at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver, on the traditional, ancestral and unceded lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

This one-day, in-person conference, Restorying Our Past, Reimagining Our Future, explored the power of stories and storytelling, and how stories can advance principles of diversity, equity and genuine inclusion.

Conference highlights

Here is our compelling lineup of expert storytellers.

The Bones of Our Belonging

The story we tell about ourselves impacts our sense of belonging and the extent to which we create belonging for others. Author and Leadership Expert Annahid Dashtgard leads us on a deep dive into how we can develop our agency as the main character in our own life story: What is our purpose? How are we making the journey? And ultimately, what impact will we leave behind? Annahid will guide a lively and interactive session on how to use story to facilitate joy, fulfillment and inclusion for all.

Guest speaker

HRE 2023 - Annahid Dashtgard

Annahid Dashtgard is a leading voice on race, trauma and immigration. She grew up in three countries – Iran, England, and Canada – and is a bestselling author and podcast host. Dashtgard holds a master’s degree in education, an undergraduate degree in psychology, and is co-founder and CEO of Anima Leadership, a global company that has been revolutionizing work in EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion) spaces since 2006. For more than 25 years, she has inspired, educated and coached thousands toward a deeper experience of belonging.

Indigenous Storytelling with Red Buffalo Nova 

Guest speaker

HRE 2023 - Red Buffalo Nova Weipert

Red Buffalo Nova Weipert (he/him/they/them) is an Anishinaabe Ojibwe Two-Spirit and transgender interdisciplinary artist, writer, director, educator and storyteller. Nova is a proud enrolled member of the Pinaymootang First Nation and holds a master of fine arts degree from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Storytelling is the driving force in most of Nova’s work whether by sharing and uplifting underrepresented voices through filmmaking, or by sharing their own lived and felt experiences through creative expression with video, photography, sound, illustration, beading, performance, and at storytelling events across Turtle Island.

Stories That Heal

This workshop will explore the healing capacity of stories. Kai Thomas will speak about his own experiences and facilitate breakout groups where conference attendees will reflect on the healing power of their own stories.

Guest speaker

HRE 2023 - Kai Thomas

Kai Thomas is a carpenter, land steward, and author whose first novel, In the Upper Country, was a national bestseller. Born and raised in Ottawa, he is Afro-Canadian and holds a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Guelph. Kai’s novel was shortlisted for the 2023 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

Stories Hold the Cure

We all have wounds that resist healing, injuries incurred in moments when we are misunderstood, unseen, unheard and worse, harmed. These wounds are what former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey calls the "existential wound" – the ones that don't seem to ever heal and they can trap us into a single narrative of being unworthy, unlovable, irredeemable. We spend so much of our lives tending to the wounds of others, but what if we found the courage to turn inward and look at the places inside of us that throb? What if we summoned the vulnerability to tell not only our doctors where it hurts, but also tell our friends and family, our co-workers and our community? What if we started to tell the stories of our scars and author a different narrative of our lives? We all have scars that start as wounds that sometimes struggle to heal. Stories hold the cure.

Guest speaker

HRE 2023 - Putsata Reang

Putsata Reang is an author and journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and Ms. She has lived and worked in over a dozen countries and teaches memoir writing to middle and high school students as well as adult learners. Her latest book, Ma and Me, explores inherited trauma and the crushing weight of cultural and filial duty, in the context of her coming out journey.

RX for Comedy: Dosage - Unlimited!

In this hilarious and heartwarming session, Martha Chaves will show how she has expertly transformed life's challenges into the healing power of laughter. With her unique perspective and quick wit, she’ll take you on a journey through personal experiences, and cultural quirks. From family dynamics to social stereotypes, you’ll experience the healing power of laughter through a humor pill that will leave you feeling high on life. Get ready for a dosage of unlimited laughs!

Guest speaker

HRE 2023 - Martha Chaves

Martha Chaves is an award-winning comedian, writer, and actor who has appeared at the Just for Laughs Festival and is a regular panelist on CBC Radio One’s Because News. Martha describes herself as the “most famous Nicaraguan Canadian LGBTQ+ stand-up comedian in the world!”. With such a unique nature, she is hilariously relatable, universally funny and accessible.

Writing to Change the World

In this thought-provoking talk, Ung shares her deeply personal journey, revealing the extraordinary power of words to transform lives and societies. Through her compelling storytelling and advocacy, Loung illuminates her personal journey from pain to empowerment, demonstrating how the process of rewriting her own narrative served as a catalyst for her activism work. Join Loung as she shares how we all can harness the power of authoring our own narratives to create change in our lives and communities. This talk is a call to action, urging writers and readers alike to join the movement for a better, more just world.

Guest speaker

HRE 2023 - Loung Ung

Loung Ung is a public speaker, bestselling author and screenwriter. She began her activism in 1993 at a domestic shelter and has since worked on campaigns to end violence against women, end the use of child soldiers, and eradicate landmines. Since 1995, she has returned to her native Cambodia over 40 times in devotion to helping it heal from the traumas of war. Ung was selected by the World Economic Forum as one of the 100 Global Youth Leaders of Tomorrow. She has given hundreds of keynote addresses including at Stanford University, Dartmouth College and at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Morning session: A Path That Changes You
Afternoon session: I Am The Rock

Guest speaker

HRE 2023 - Connie Paul

Connie Paul

My First Nations names are Yetta, from my great grandmother's grandmother (mother’s side), Teltitelwet, from my great, great grandmother (father’s side) and Hanakim Zim Lisms (gifted name from the Nisga'a Nation). Those are my true names. My mother is Okanagan, my father is from Tsartlip.

My outside name is Connie Paul RN.

My true education comes from my great grandmother.

My formal education:
I am a First Nations registered nurse. I graduated from McMaster through their remote outpost nursing program.

I have worked at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital for seven years. Then 18 1/2 years as an outpost nurse. For the past 11 years, I have been and currently am a nurse manager with Snuneymuxw hulit lelum (Snuneymuxw First Nation). Storytelling is woven into my nursing practice, and I previously created a dental educational video using the power of story. I love to spend my time beading, cedar weaving, painting, writing plays and writing poetry.

Huy ch q'a

UPDATED: December 09, 2023

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