Edward Snowden, Angela Davis, Murray Sinclair: Prominent speakers headed to the U of W

Conversations around social justice — from environmental and Indigenous to technology and surveillance — is bringing prominent and controversial speakers to the University of Winnipeg in May.

The University of Winnipeg May 2017 CLASS Spring Institute speaker series in May will hear talks from former intelligence officer and mass surveillance critic Edward Snowden; American political and civil rights activist Angela Davis; and Manitoba's first Indigenous judge, and head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Murray Sinclair.

"I think the University of Winnipeg has a long history of social justice as its core ethos," said Carlos Colorado, an associate professor and organizer of the speaker series, on CBC Radio's Weekend Morning Show on Sunday.

Colorado said the university has been prioritizing "knowledge mobilization," which means connecting the research and teaching on campus with the greater community.

"As an inner-city university we think it's important that we actually open up campus to people that might not otherwise come onto campus, so I think that's a big part of it. I think the other issue is we are bringing in a lot of prominent speakers that are household names," he said.

Bringing in Snowden, Sinclair and Davis makes the conversations more accessible to the community and results in a different conversation, Colorado said.

Other speakers include eco-feminist Vandana Shiva, American environmentalist and economist Winona LaDuke, and Canadian Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier, among others.

Colorado acknowledged there may be feedback that the talks do not represent all political spectrums, but he said the main emphasis so far has "been to have a diversity of speakers in terms of gender and ethnicity."

"But perhaps most importantly a diversity of the topics covered."

The first talk will take place on Monday and they continue until May 25. For more information visit the University of Winnipeg's website.