Speaker Biographies

Keynote speakers:

Drs. Margo Greenwood and Sarah de Leeuw will be giving the plenary keynote address at the conference. They will be speaking about geographies of friendship as a decolonizing strategy.

Margo Greenwood

Dr. Margo Greenwood is an Indigenous scholar of Cree ancestry with more than 20 years experience in the field of early childhood education. She works as an Associate Professor in both the First Nations Studies and Education programs at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). Dr. Greenwood's research and lifework has focused on early childhood development, and her current research interests include the structural impetus for the development and implementation of early childhood development programs and services in Canada, and cross-cultural communication and children's transition from preschool to formal education systems. Alongside her academic work, Dr. Greenwood has worked as a frontline caregiver, policy designer, and teacher, and has served on provincial, national, and international advisories.

Sarah de Leeuw

Dr. Sarah de Leeuw is an assistant professor in the Northern Medical Program at the University of Northern British Columbia where she pursues her research interests in colonialism, cultural geographies, and the relationships between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal peoples. Dr. de Leeuw's research focuses on relationships between people and the racialization of space, access, and practice. Her work has involved examinations of expressions of power in and through place; diminutive and intimate geographies; colonialism in British Columbia; discourses and practices of "health" in relation to the pervasiveness of colonialism in British Columbia; residential schools; and responses of Aboriginal children, often through creative and artistic means, to colonial efforts. In addition to her academic work, Dr. de Leeuw has published her creative writings widely, and has received two CBC literary awards for creative non-fiction.


Harsha Walia

Harsha Walia is a South Asian activist, writer, and researcher based in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. She is active in a variety of social movements, particularly migrant justice, anti-racism, Indigenous solidarity, Palestine solidarity, and anti-imperialist struggles. She graduated from UBC Law, is a co-founder of No One is Illegal, and is the current project coordinator at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre. She is also the co-creator of a short film about race, class, and gender in Canada's poorest neighbourhood. Harsha has been named one of the most influential South Asians in BC by the Vancouver Sun, one of the ten most popular left-wing journalists by the Georgia Straight, and one of Canada's most brilliant and effective political organizers by Naomi Klein.

Glen Coulthard

Dr. Glen Coulthard is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and an assistant professor in the First Nations Studies Program and the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Coulthard researchers and publishes in areas of indigenous thought and politics, contemporary political theory, and radical social thought (marxism, anarchism, post-colonialism). His work speaks strongly to politics of recognition and self-determination for Indigenous peoples, for which he has recently been awarded the Contemporary Political Theory's Annual Award for Best Article of the Year in 2007.

Sarah Hunt

Sarah Hunt is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University and a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, from the Kwagiulth community in Tsax̱is (also called Fort Rupert). Sarah has worked as a community-based researcher, educator and activist for more than 15 years in both rural and urban areas of BC, addressing violence, intergenerational abuse, resistance, education, and community capacity building, with a particular focus on issues facing girls, women and two-spirit people. Sarah’s doctoral research investigates the relationship between law and violence in ongoing neocolonial relations in BC, asking how violence gains visibility through Indigenous and Canadian socio-legal discourse and action. This work is particularly concerned with rethinking reserve geographies in relation to Indigenous geographies, and explores the ways Indigenous peoples’ agency is being used to undermine the assumed violence of ‘Indian space’. Sarah also contributes to the blog mediaindigena.com.

Closing speaker:

Coll Thrush

A graduate of Fairhaven College at Western Washington University and the University of Washington, Coll Thrush formerly served as historian for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe in his hometown of Auburn, Washington. He is now associate professor of history at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he teaches Indigenous, environmental, cultural, and world history. He served for three years UBC’s research ethics board and is part of a faculty working group on Indigenous issues and decolonization in the classroom. Coll is the author of Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place, which won the 2007 Washington State Book Award for History/Biography, and co-editor with Colleen Boyd of Phantom Past, Indigenous Presence: Native Ghosts in North American History and Culture. His article "City of the Changers: Indigenous People and the Transformation of Seattle’s Watersheds," which was named Best Article of 2006 by the Urban History Association. His article "Vancouver the Cannibal: Cuisine, Encounter, and the Dilemma of Difference on the Northwest Coast, 1774-1808" won the Robert F. Heizer prize for best article of 2011 from the American Society for Ethnohistory. He is currently working on London: Indigenous Histories of an Empire’s Centre, which examines urban history through the experiences of Indigenous travelers – willing or otherwise – from territories that became the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.