Conference Program

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

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Session Overview - All times EDT

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Date: Thursday, 03/June/2021
10:00am - 11:30am4.1.1: CASID AGM
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Kate Grantham
Technical chair: Adrian Murray

Join the CASID board and members for the association's Annual General Meeting.

Only CASID members in good standing can participate in this session!

Room 1 
11:30am - 12:30pmLunch Day 4
12:30pm - 2:00pm4.2.1: Human Rights Agendas: SDGs, Reproductive Health and Sexual Violence
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Nasya Razavi
Room 1 

The SDGs and Canada’s development assistance discourse post-2015: convenient alignment for a new aid era

Finbar Hefferon, Dr. Liam Swiss

Memorial University, Canada

This paper explores how the arrival of the globally agreed United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in late 2015 impacted Canada’s discourse on its international development assistance agenda. Through analysis of official government communications (ministerial speeches and official statements) across the tenure of three Global Affairs Canada International Development Ministers from late 2015-present, the study examines: 1) to what extent alignment with the SDGs has formed the basis for Canada’s renewed international development approach; 2) what factors and events, for example, the introduction of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy in 2017 or the reduction of the Liberal party to a minority government in 2019, may help explain the alignment with or divergence from of Canada’s foreign aid discourse from the SDGs?; and 3) which SDGs have been more heavily referenced, indirectly or directly, to help define Canada’s approach and frame development interventions? The paper expands on related analysis of the influence of the SDGs on Canada’s ODA allocation in the post-2015 era, helping to understand the influence of the global goals on shaping donor countries aid allocation priorities. The paper reveals there was initially close alignment in official messaging referencing the SDGs from 2015-2017, followed by a drop-off and recalibration towards the promotion of the Feminist International Assistance Policy. Our analysis suggests that the coinciding of the launch of the SDGs appears to have provided, at least for a brief period, a convenient vehicle for Canada to justify and launch a new era for its development assistance.

“The Memories Haunt Me”: Can Transitional Justice Address Sexual Violence Induced Trauma?

Deeplina Banerjee

University of Western Ontario, Canada

Transitional Justice includes a set of principles and mechanisms including, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRCs), the right to reparation, and the right to truth under international law. “The international community provides fragile new governments with important financial, institutional and normative support for reckoning with the past, attending to the needs of victims, and setting the foundations for democracy, human rights and the rule of law” (Nagy, 2008). Although Transitional Justice is proven useful in post-conflict contexts, feminist critiques argue, it has not adequately addressed the post-conflict demands of survivors of sexual violence. The ICTR and ICTY provided landmark judgments in defining rape and sexual violence as a crime against humanity. However, there remains a significant gap in extending reparative justice towards victims and survivors. Under a western liberal framework, there is a tendency among international stakeholders to impose “one size fits all” and providing decontextualised solutions (Nagy, 2008). Building on; the Bangladesh Liberation War, The Rwandan Genocide, and the Bosnian genocide, the paper will seek to address three questions: a) How has the transitional justice mechanism in post-conflict societies addressed the crime and trauma of sexual violence? b) Where and how were survivors of sexual violence positioned in/during the process of reconciliation and state-building? c) Can transitional justice be (re)imagined within a feminist collaborative framework? The paper focuses on bringing survivors at the heart of transitional justice negotiations and mechanisms to meet the sustainable goals of achieving gender equality and strengthening peace and justice institutions.

Works Cited

Nagy, Rosemary. “Transitional Justice as Global Project: Critical Reflections.” Third world quarterly 29, no. 2 (February 1, 2008): 275–289.

Can Agenda 2030 deliver on “localization”? Policy limitations of Agenda 2030 in the broader global governance system.

Gloria Novovic

University of Guelph, Canada

Localisation is a contentious yet an elusive target of humanitarian and development assistance, used to refer to anything from equitable partnerships with local actors, to shifting of resources and decision-making roles for development programming implementation but also design and broader agenda and priority-setting. Agenda 2030, as a global development framework, espouses the value of “country-led development” to ensure policy relevance and resilience. This paper examines Agenda 2030’s policy domestication in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda and its impact on the localization of international assistance. Based on 190 interviews with international and national civil servants, civil society actors, and academics, this paper argues that the consultative nature of the process leading up to Agenda 2030’s approval has, indeed, bolstered at the very least opportunities for policy dialogue that can foster greater localization. However, the resource and decision-making redistribution part of the localization agenda, cannot be achieved through Agenda 2030 alone. These meaningful shifts require institutional shifts in donor funding and the governance and operational structures of international non-government organizations.

Reproductive Health and Rights in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy: Bridging the Gap Between Women’s Empowerment and Reproductive Justice

Jacqueline Potvin

University of Guelph, Canada

Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) explicitly advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), including access to safe abortion, as a path to women and girls’ economic and political empowerment. Under FIAP, the Canadian Government has committed $650 million to advancing SRHR.

Given that SRHR has long been recognized by feminists as a crucial component of gender equality, these commitments have been welcome, and can be understood as critical for an international assistance policy that seeks to align itself with feminist ideals. Yet it is important to situate these commitments within emerging critiques that FIAP’s potential has been limited by its adoption of a neoliberal iteration of feminism that prioritizes empowering individuals over enacting systemic change (Mason, 2019). In this paper, I examine how this neoliberal feminist framework is reflected in FIAP’s framing of SRHR as a pathway to economic participation for girls and women in the Global South, which is itself predicated on a discursive conflation of ‘reproductive rights’ with delayed and limited fertility.

My analysis is based on preliminary findings from a critical discourse analysis of FIAP, and of FIAP funded programs explicitly identified as advancing SRHR. Drawing on the theory of reproductive justice, I examine the limitations of FIAP’s approach to SRHR, particularly in addressing the reproductive experiences of marginalized and colonized communities. Furthermore, I examine how FIAP acts as a site through which understandings of ‘responsible’ reproductive citizenship are circulated, with particular attention to how these norms align with the growing identification of adolescent girls as ‘ideal’ targets of development interventions. I conclude by reflecting on how feminist development scholars can move beyond problematization to bridge the gap between the empowerment, ‘choice’ based feminism deployed by FIAP, and an intersectional feminism that works towards reproductive and gender justice for communities in the Global South.

12:30pm - 2:00pm4.2.2: The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience
Location: Room 2
Technical chair: Adrian Murray
Room 2 

Chair(s): Carmen Ho (Assistant Professor at the Guelph Institute for Development Studies), Andréanne Martel (Inter-Council Network For International Cooperation (ICN) and Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC), Canada)

This panel aims to understand how Canadian small and medium organizations (SMOs) in particular have experienced the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to understanding the challenges SMOs face in relation to financial loss and their ability to implement their programs, we will showcase their strategies and practices in response to the pandemic. While SMOs may experience unique vulnerabilities, they also have unique adaptation strategies and forms of resilience.

The pandemic offered an opportunity to transform practices between Canadian SMOs and their partners overseas. It may have accelerated the localization process by transforming the way Canadian organizations collaborate and their relationships.

This panel brings together researchers and practitioners involved in a collaborative study undertaken during the first few months of the pandemic. Findings from this SMO study will be published in a report in March 2021, and this panel will be an opportunity to discuss the findings with those who commissioned, conducted and participated in it. A researcher who has previously studied Canadian SMOs will also be invited to comment on the findings form an external standpoint.


Presentations of the Symposium


The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience

Andrea Paras
University of Guelph

Andrea Paras was the Primary Investigator on a University of Guelph study that surveyed 151 Canadian NGOs to investigate the early impacts of the pandemic on Canada’s international development sector. She led the research for the study that is the focus of this roundtable discussion.


Pivoting to Adapt to a Rapid Changing Context: Canadian SMOs' Resilience and Learning

Andréanne Martel

A. Martel is leading Spur Change which is a capacity building and knowledge sharing program to support Canadian Small and medium organizations (SMOs) working in global cooperation. In early March 2020, Spur Change published a report on Canadian SMOs’ capacity needs and knowledge gaps. When COVID19 hit a few days after launching this report, Martel gathered together over 100 Canadian SMOs in early April to discuss how COVID was affecting them. Since then, she and her team collaborate with Canadian SMOs on a daily basis to support them while they pivot to adapt to the pandemic. Her team commissioned the study on The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience (SMO study report) which is being discussed during this panel.


How Feminist Principles Guided Pandemic Responses

Rachel Barr

VIDEA is a Canadian SMO located in British Columbia, which applies a human rights and social justice lens in its work with Indigenous youth and communities in Canada and abroad. VIDEA participated in the SMO study, and R. Barr will discuss how VIDEA’s feminist principles have guided its pandemic response.



Brian Tomlinson
AidWatch Canada

B. Tomlinson works since many years on issues related to Canadian and global aid priorities as well as global trends in the development effectiveness of civil society organizations (CSOs). For the past few years, B. Tomlinson has been working on areas of aid and development policies at the global level, Canadian international climate finance with C4D, as well as on shrinking civic space issues with international CSO allies. In 2016, he published one of the very few studies on SMOs crucial role in international development and public engagement across Canada. His report, commissioned by the ICN, influenced the creation of the Spur Change program. As part of this panel, B Tomlinson will provide comments on the findings of the SMO study report.

12:30pm - 2:00pm4.2.3: Decolonizing Research Methods for the Global South - Workshop
Location: Room 3
Technical chair: valerie charest

Register here.

(conference registration required)

Room 3 

Chairs: Sumeet Sekhon1, Navjotpal Kaur2

1The University of British Columbia (Okanagan), Canada; 2Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada


For graduate students conducting fieldwork for the first time, balancing the emotional, ethical, and relational complexity of research can be challenging. Furthermore, when a student trained in the Western academy undertakes fieldwork in the global South, the stark difference between expectation and reality can be disorientating, which can present grounds for possible ethnographic errors. This workshop is aimed at deconstructing the principles, objectives, and values that constitute empirical practices/research methods in the West. More specifically, the workshop facilitators will use a decolonizing framework to explore the concepts of reflexivity, betweenness, situated knowledge, and positionality in terms of the practical challenges of conducting fieldwork in the global South. The goal of the workshop is to sensitize and expand Western research practices to the field realities of the global South, and to prepare early career scholars for unexpected encounters in the field. This workshop will be especially useful for those who are planning to work with marginalised and vulnerable populations as it will enable participants to acknowledge, and deal with, the emotional and ethical dilemmas they are likely to face in the field.

Participant engagement:

Participants will be organised into groups or pairs (depending on the number of participants), and asked to reflect on their experiences of fieldwork, or plans for carrying out fieldwork, using the concepts discussed during the workshop. Participants will also be asked to reflect on templates of ethics approval applications from their respective universities/institutions.

Intended audience:

Graduate students, early career academics, and practitioners with research interests in the global South.

Materials provided:

Each participant will receive an electronic copy of:

(1) Handouts to be used during the lecture portions of the workshop

(2) Questions and prompts to be used during the pair/group discussion portion of the workshop

12:30pm - 2:00pm4.2.4: Beyond the Academy: Career opportunities in international development - Workshop
Location: Room 4
Session Chair: Marie Gagné
Technical chair: Furqan Asif

Registration is now closed.

Considering a career in development outside the academy? CASID 2021 will host a roundtable discussion and workshop with a group of development graduates and professionals working in a diverse array of roles in within and beyond the field. The panelists will share their own experiences of making the decision to pursue alternative career paths, offering advice to students and recent graduates about how to chart a path forward beyond the academy. This will be followed by more in depth, workshop style discussions around key themes and sectors in plenary and breakout groups to more deeply explore these paths and processes.

Panelists include: Julie Crowley, IDRC; Kate Grantham, FemDev; Carly Hayes GAC; Paola Ortiz, SSHRC; Deborah Simpson, OXFAM Canada.

Room 4 
2:00pm - 2:30pmBreak Day 4
2:30pm - 4:00pm4.3.1 Decolonizing the academy: lessons from partnerships with indigenous communities
Location: Room 1
Technical chair: Georgina Alonso
Room 1 

Chair(s): Yuriko Cowper-Smith (University of Guelph, Canada)

The ostensible goal of academic pursuit is to push and challenge the fundamental boundaries of ‘truth’. Yet, as critical scholars have continuously contested and unravelled (Said, 1979; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999; Absolon, 2011; de Sousa Santos, 2018; Mignolo and Walsh, 2019) certain regimes of truth have been used to uphold and privilege ‘truths’ that support imperial and colonial hegemonies/empires. Research is “a significant site of struggle between the interests and ways of knowing of the West and the interests and ways of resisting of the Other” (Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999, p.2). Thus, decolonizing research is critical for countering hegemonic knowledge production in academia. Yet, the challenge is to transform decolonial theory into decolonial praxis. Although decolonizing academia is currently picking up momentum, there is still much to be contested, debated, and learned. As such, this panel asks, ‘As individuals implicated in a colonial institution and larger society, how does one go about building a decolonial praxis’? In order to answer this question, the panel engages three scholars who have worked with indigenous communities from/in Palestine, Ecuador and Myanmar. By rejecting “academic elitism”, and instead embracing, “radical, politically engaged scholarship...grounded in the politics, practices and language” of communities (as cited in Sudbury & Okazawa-Rey, 2009, p. 2), these scholars will discuss the research methodologies that they have developed and employed in the context of their Ph.D. research. By focusing on the themes of authentic partnership; decolonial activism as Indigenous methodology; allyship; reciprocity; and decolonial love, we learn about the ways in which academia is challenged and enrichened when embodied knowledge and lived experience are considered on the same plane as conventional (colonial) ‘scholarship’.


Presentations of the Symposium


Papas con cuy: decoloniality through reciprocity

Matt McBurney
University of Guelph

Decolonizing research methods and pedagogy is nothing new (Tuhiwai-Smith, 2012; Walsh, 2017), but it would seem that the practice and implementation of “decolonized” methodologies continue to be relegated to the margins of academia (Samson, 2019). Drawing from over 12 years of work with Kichwa Indigenous communities in Ecuador, this presentation examines the ways in which scholars can engage with and learn from Indigenous communities as equal partners through participation in everyday communal activities, such as mingas (communal work) and the sharing of food. Relationships of reciprocity are at the heart of Indigenous communal experiences and, therefore, it is important that academic researchers understand and participate in these experiences in order to break down the researcher/subject dichotomy that places a barrier between true knowledge exchange, learning, and relationships. Indigenous values, such as randi randi (reciprocity), relationality, complementarity, correspondence, and cyclicity, will be explored, as well as the normative practice of these values that form the base of Kichwa living and being.


Decolonial co-resistance: an Indigenous methodology

Jess Notwell
University of Guelph

This presentation explores Decolonial Co-Resistance as Indigenous research. Decolonial Co-Resistance as a methodology arose through co-resistance (Simpson, 2016) with Palestinian women frontliners (Shalhoub-Kevorkian, 2009) in struggles for the liberation of Palestine. My Ph.D. research documents the decolonial action of thirty Palestinian women as love, hope, connection, and liberation. Decolonial love for family, community and the land is the core of their everyday struggle for decolonization and freedom. Arising through the mentorship of several Palestinian women, who decided that I needed particular competencies in order to effectively conduct this research, Decolonial Co-Resistance is a praxis of those same decolonial actions. Simultaneously, it is an Indigenous way of knowing and being: it is relational, decolonizing, enacts reciprocity (Absolon, 2011), lives miyo-pimatisiwin (Makokis, 2011), and embodies decolonial love as a means and an end (Simpson, 2013; Sandoval, 2000).


Allyship and academia: joining the Rohingya-Canadian social movement

Yuriko Cowper-Smith
University of Guelph

Suet-ling Tang (2008) argues that it is possible for community-engaged (CES) researchers to “support community efforts in self-representation and self-advocacy” (p. 239). However, CES has also been charged with renouncing research goals for the goals of advocacy. By drawing on extensive Ph.D. research from 2017 to 2019 with the Rohingya Canadian social movement, I demonstrate in this presentation that when working within a social movement, a CES-based approach can offer rich and nuanced explanations; ones that do not obfuscate complexity, contingencies and intricacies. Indeed, this presentation unpacks how committing to justice-focused research, involving a long-term, grounded and embedded methodology, in fact, enhances the rigour and relevance of scholarship. By describing my methodological choices over two years of research I posit that this approach helps us 1) grasp a full understanding of the intellectual foundations upon which a diaspora-led movement has built itself 2) develop research models that are responsive to both community and research goals that can be used in the future.

2:30pm - 4:00pm4.3.2: Open
Location: Room 2
Room 2 
2:30pm - 4:00pm4.3.3: Colonialism, Localisation and Participation
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Nasya Razavi
Technical chair: Furqan Asif
Room 3 

The Social Side of Soils. A Farmer Centred Analysis on the Adoption of Cover Crops

Paige Allen, Ataharul Chowdhury

University of Guelph, Canada

The role of sustainable land management practices in the Canadian agriculture sector is a complex and evolving topic. Internationally, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reiterates the importance of adopting sustainable land management practices to avert degradation and aid productivity. Protecting soils has been identified as critical in Ontario’s Soil Health Strategy. Although there are a number of studies focused on larger social aspects associated with soil conservation available globally, there is limited Ontario focused research.

There exists a gap in rural and agricultural research related to cultural and social factors of agriculture. Despite there being studies conducted that examine farmer motivations related to adoption, the majority focus specifically on economic factors, from the perspective of adopters. Therefore, this research examines decision-making and support services accessed by grain farmers in Southern Ontario related to the adoption of cover crops. Using a comparative methodology, this research interviews both adopters and non-adopters.

The importance of co-produced knowledge, programs, and policies is something that continues to be examined in both the academic and policy spheres. The mobilization of knowledge through knowledge translation and transfer seeks to create actionable research, and transform the process of knowledge production and exchange into a collaborative process. This research seeks to add to this process by affording farmers the opportunity to express their reasoning for choosing to either incorporate or not incorporate the practice of cover crops. There are many programs and policies in Ontario that focus on increasing the use of best management practices, and struggle to identify and incorporate non-adopters. By speaking with farmers directly we can better understand their rational for non-involvement, such as lack of agricultural representation, inability to fit into current system, access to adequate resources, and addressing larger communication issues. Understanding farmers perspectives is the first step in developing inclusive agricultural policies.

Creativity and conflict in Panorama, Colombia: a social justice lens in adaptation to climate-change opens perspectives on community-led development

Steffen Lajoie1,2, Danielle Labbé1,2

1Université de Montréal, Canada; 2Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Urbanization in the Global South

This paper explores how practitioners in community-led adaptation and development can engage a justice agenda that entails facilitation, relationship building, and mediation. Building on research in the field of planning, community-led/based development, and political-ecology, it demonstrates how practitioners can dig past gatekeepers and externally defined solutions and identify the diversity of problematics, risks, and vulnerabilities faced by local communities.

This argument emerges from a case study of locally led urban adaptations in a marginalized neighborhood in Yumbo, Colombia. The study used direct and participant observation and a mix of in-depth online and in-person interviews with students, local leaders, and practitioners to identify socio-political spheres of change in Yumbo involving local and extra-local actors. This then supports an exploration of how national and international development practitioners mobilize knowledge and engage with local leaders, their priorities, projects, and styles.

The research reveals conflicting initiatives, addressing a myriad of risks and engaging in diverse strategies. Some are explicit and mobilize multiple actors; others mix legal and extra-legal strategies; and others still, are forced into the shadows of extra-legal power dynamics and profiteering. By following the different “adaptation styles” of local actors, this paper illuminates ways hierarchies of vulnerability compete with each other and how established leaders can outperform others to mobilize their interests, bringing positive change for some while negating others and reinforcing inequalities.

This paper contributes to the growing literature on community-led adaptation and a practice based on diversity and creativity that does not sugar-coat existing micro-conflicts. It questions the knowledge individual practitioners bring to the table and how they articulate their contributions with local knowledges, power-dynamics, and politics. Ultimately, I propose to move beyond one-off framing and cookie-cutter technology fixes and adopt instead approaches allowing knowledges and solutions to emerge and gain traction with local, regional, and international policy.

Using Decolonizing Geographies to Decolonize the Development Field Through Decolonizing Education and Indigenous Community Participation

Mandie Rose Yantha

University of Waterloo, Canada

The evolution of development theory creates and enforces unequal power dynamics and structures, disparities in inequality, dependency, and the colonial idea that the Western world has got it right and all others should follow. The development field continues to reply on colonial knowledge and practices that have evolved overtime and continue to play a significant role in research, decision making, and overall goals of development. Geography has had the ability to encompass new ways of knowing and has helped be a bridge between the various bodies of knowledge. Decolonizing geographies can provide concrete approaches to decolonizing research and ways of knowing that can be directly applied to the development field. Approaches and methods that include local and marginalized groups by reframing their identity, needs, and this knowledge can assist with empowering and increasing capacity for successful development programs now and into the future.

Navigating Tensions: Lessons from a participatory research project.

Judyannet Muchiri

Memorial University, Canada

As we, as a sector, move towards adopting a more anti-racist approach, actors are reorienting their projects and programming to include approaches that better engage the communities they serve. Such approaches are central to decolonizing development; however, they are not without challenges. Using primary data from a research project that examines the effects of safe spaces on young women’s civic participation in Kenya, this paper focuses on the challenges and tensions that development actors and researchers face when their work takes a feminist approach that centers marginalized groups, their lived experiences, and their knowledges. Using such tensions as learning moments, I also offer some practices that development actors and researchers can adopt to inform transformative engagement with marginalized groups in their work.

2:30pm - 4:00pm4.3.4: Prioritizing Indigenous Worldviews within performance management and evaluation - Workshop
Location: Room 4
Technical chair: Adrian Murray
Room 4 

Chair: Marissa Hill

Indigenous Innovation Initiative at Grand Challenges Canada

The Indigenous Innovation Initiative is an innovation platform, hosted at Grand Challenges Canada, that supports the development of innovation by and for First Nation, Inuit and Metis Peoples in Canada. To do this, we increase access to capital and culturally relevant support for innovators, by addressing the following key barriers to the economic participation of Indigenous Peoples in Canada through a decolonized social impact investing approach:

- Access to capital: Addressing the resource gaps and investment needs of innovators

- Building capacity: Supporting innovators with the Knowledges, skills and tools they need to succeed

- Cultivating networks: Connecting innovators to a meaningful and supportive ecosystem that increases their social capital

- Driving interest: Sharing individual and program stories of impact, success and learnings to inspire and empower the next generation of Indigenous innovation

In early 2020, we collaborated with First Nation, Inuit and Metis women, men, Two Spirit, queer and gender diverse peoples across Canada and completed a comprehensive literature review to inform development of a decolonized inquiry and learning framework that is specific to innovation within an Indigenous context.

Addressing the theme of "action for change," this workshop will support practitioners in understanding the core Values, Principles and Wise Practices that are the foundation of this inquiry and learning approach, and how to decolonize their own approaches and advance the decolonization of knowledge creation and utilization as it relates to supporting Indigenous innovation. This also addresses some of the long-standing tensions between Indigenous Worldviews and Western results-based management approaches.