At the end of May, I had the pleasure of attending my very first Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) annual conference. After some much-needed rest following a midnight arrival in Regina, I began my first official day at Congress – also known as Day Zero of CSSE. One of the highlights of Day Zero was volunteering alongside Local Area Coordinator, Keith Adolph, and his lovely parents. Not only did I receive a warm, prairie welcome to Regina, I also had the opportunity to engage in a discussion of our diverse educational backgrounds and interests that had brought us to CSSE – of course, all of this took place in between our many visits to the University of Regina’s bookstore!
The following day, I took part in the Canadian Association for Educational Psychology’s (CAEP) graduate mentoring lunch in honour of the late Dr. John Freeman, a beloved mentor to several graduate students. This was a wonderful occasion to not only meet academics from other universities but to also speak about my research whilst gaining some valuable insight. I was paired with CAEP president, Dr. Jacqui Specht, who not only assured me of the importance of looking at inclusion in French Immersion, my area of research, but also suggested some valuable resources. One resource suggested by Dr. Specht was photovoice – an inclusive, qualitative research method in which photographs essentially become artefacts, inspiring dialogue and social change.
It was then time to speak, or rather, showcase, my research as a poster presenter for the Canadian Committee of Graduate Students in Education. This was my first research poster presentation so while I was initially a bit nervous, I soon found the right balance of letting my poster speak for itself while also supplying key information and answers for my visitors. I like to believe that I got as much from the experience as I gave, so while I gave several insights into my work, I also received various pathways of possibilities in the form of questions and comments for reflection.
On my final day at CSSE, I had the opportunity to attend a Big Thinking lecture given by Françoise Baylis on the responsibilities of scholars in public debates. Given that Françoise’s lecture was part of the first ever all-women Big Thinking lecture series, I was greatly looking forward to it and it certainly didn’t disappoint! Françoise shared with us her lifelong mantra, “To make the powerful care,” and offered several strategies to do so, such as sharing and expressing knowledge through arts-based or other creative methods and encouraging academics with tenure to speak with, and not for, their colleagues. In the end, the greatest takeaway for me as a young scholar was that the most meaningful work I will ever do is the work of sharing, creating and inspiring new knowledge-words that have already inspired me to attend Congress 2019 in British Columbia themed, most fittingly, “Circles of Conversation.” See you on the left coast, CSSE!
PhD Candidate, University of Ottawa