A People’s History – Speaker bios
George Elliot Clarke was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, near the Black Loyalist community of Three Mile Plains, in 1960. He is the inaugural E.J. Pratt Professor of Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto. Clarke has been instrumental in promoting the work of writers of African descent, especially those of Nova Scotia. Clarke coined the term, ‘Africadian’ to identify the Black culture of Atlantic Canada. George is Toronto’s Poet Laureate.
Darlene Lawrence has worked at the Digby County Resource Centre for 18 years as Executive Director. She is also the former Chairperson of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Chairperson of the Black Employment Partnership Committee and founding member of the Women for Economic Equality. Ms. Lawrence is currently the Chairperson of the Digby Education Committee, a committee for Black parents, which addresses the needs of Black learners.
Carolann Wright-Parks is the Manager of Community Economic Development and Strategic Engagement with the Greater Halifax Partnership. She has over 30 years of community organizing experience, and has worked in Toronto and South Africa in the areas of health, anti-poverty and anti-racist issues.
El Jones is the Halifax Poet Laureate, a teacher, community worker, and spoken word activist. Her poetry is particularly committed to political causes and social justice and has worked extensively with organizations around Halifax performing and presenting on issues of social change. She currently teaches in the African Canadian Transition Program at NSCC and in the Women’s Studies program at Acadia.
Chris Frazer is an associate professor in history at StFX, an activist in labour and queer organizing, a drag performer, and a founder of the Canadian Federation of Students. An expert in the history of bandits, Chris is currently researching the history of drag in Halifax. Chris is also known by the stage name C. Leah Cruise.
Pat Kipping has engaged in women’s, peace and environmental activism since the early 1970s. She made a film about women’s peace activist Muriel Duckworth and currently serves on the board of Ecology Action Centre and started the reBoom Housing Boomers Study Group.
Sherry Pictou has volunteered and worked in various capacities for a number of First Nations organizations and for her home community the Bear River First Nation, Nova Scotia in particular. Much of this work has involved political and activist work in ascertaining the right to initiate community approaches to natural resource harvesting and management as well as several community learning projects regarding small scale and indigenous fisheries. Currently, Sherry is an Interdisciplinary PhD student at Dalhousie University and is serves as a co-chair of the World Forum of Fisheries Peoples.
Evan John T. Coole is a trade unionist, anti-poverty activist and socialist who has been involved in campaigns for LGBTQ equity and racial justice. His politics were greatly impacted by growing up in a coal mining family in Industrial Cape Breton. That experience shaped his views on class consciousness, union politics, divisions amongst the working class and struggle. He will be speaking on the miners’ strikes of the 1920s and the African Nationalist movement in Cape Breton. Register today!
Lynn Jones grew up in Truro, NS, where from a young age she struggled against explicit racial segregation. As a university student, she was active against the Vietnam War, she worked in solidarity with struggles for self-determination elsewhere in the world, and fought for programs that gave Black and indigenous students access to post-secondary education. Later she became active in her union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, and went on to become the first woman of colour to be Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress.
Tony Tracy is a longtime trade unionist and social justice activist living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Hyper-caffeinated at all hours of day and night, he works closely with unions and social justice coalitions throughout Nova Scotia.