Visiting Scholars


The Grace MacInnis Visiting Scholars

In honour of Grace MacInnis and her history of social and political service as a Member of Parliament for the New Democratic Party, a Grace MacInnis Visiting Scholar Program was initiated through the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University in 1993. The Visiting Scholars are invited to Simon Fraser University to give public talks, as well as meet with faculty and students.

1993 | Shirley Williams, former British Labour MP, and Co-founder and former President (1982–88) of the Social Democratic Party in Britain (1981), was the first Visiting Scholar in this program in January of 1993. In that same year, she also became Baroness Williams of Crosby when she was awarded a life peerage. During her stay as the Visiting Scholar, Shirley Williams gave a series of public talks related to Social Democracy and the future at Burnaby Mountain campus and at SFU Harbour Centre. Since her stay at SFU, she served as Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords from 2001–04. Currently, she is Professor Emeritus of Elective Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and advises the Prime Minister on issues of nuclear proliferation.

1995 | Joy Kogawa, a Member of the Order of Canada (1986), the Order of British Columbia (2006), and the Order of the Rising Sun (2010), is widely known for her “contribution to the understanding and preservation of Japanese Canadian history.” In recognition of her literary achievements, the intensity with which she has spoken out against injustice, and her active fight for official government redress in 1988, Joy Kogawa was made the Grace MacInnis Visiting Speaker at SFU in 1995. During her stay, Joy Kogawa responded to a panel discussion on her semi-autobiographical novel Obasan (1981), and also gave a public reading of her work. Since then, her publications include A Song of Lilith The Rain Ascends (2003), and Naomi’s Road (2005). Her literary contributions were honoured when she won the 2008 George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award. From 2012–13, she was the Writer-in-Residence at the University of Toronto. Currently, she is working on a memoir called Gently to Nagasaki.

1997 | Lynn McDonald is a distinguished academic, environmentalist, and former member of the Canadian House of Commons. She was also thePresident of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women from 1979–81. Her publications include The Early Origins of the Social Sciences (1993), The Women Founders of the Social Sciences (1994), and Women Theorists on Society and Politics (1998). In February of 1997, Dr. McDonald came to SFU as the Visiting Scholar. During this time, she gave an open lecture on Florence Nightingale and the Origins of Public Health Care in SFU’s Department of History, and also met with students in the University’s Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. After her stay at SFU, she co-founded JustEarth: A Coalition for Environmental Justice in June 2006. Dr. McDonald is currently the Professor Emerita at the University of Guelph, the Director of the Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, and a member of the Board of Directors of Climate Action Network Canada.

2002 | Myrna Kostash is an acclaimed Canadian writer, journalist, and founding member of The Periodical Writers’ Association of Canada and the Writers’ Guild of Alberta, where she served as President from 1989–90. She was also the Chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada from 1993–94. Her publications include All of Baba’s Children (1978), the award-winning No Kidding: Inside the World of Teenage Girls (1987), and the national best-seller The Next Canada: In Search of the Future Canada (2000). Her most recent book isProdigal Daughter: A Journey to Byzantium (2011). Myrna Kostash came to SFU as the Visiting Scholar in March 2002 and spoke at both the University and the Vancouver Public Library. Her current project is a theatrical play based on characters from the story about the 1885 Frog Lake Massacre, titled The Frog Lake Reader (2009).

2003 | Dr. Elaine Bernard, a SFU Alumni (1988), is the Executive Director of the Labour and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and a prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America. Though her research and teaching interests are widespread and varied, her writings often focus on women in the labour force and workers in the telecommunications industry. Her publications on such topics include The Long Distance Feeling: A History of the Telecommunications Workers Union (1982) and “Feminist Perspective on the Design of Computer Communications Networks: An Alternative Design Strategy” (1990). During her stay as the Visiting Scholar in the fall of 2003, she discussed issues surrounding labour rights as human rights at the Seeking Justice: Human Rights in Our Communities Symposium at SFU, Harbour Centre. Her current interests are in international comparative labour movements and the role of unions in promoting civil society, democracy, and economic growth. Her publications since her stay at SFU include “Human Right or Canadian Illusion: Collective Bargaining in Canada” (2005) and “The State of US Labour & Building Union Power” (2008).

2006 | Linda McQuaig, a Canadian journalist, best-selling author, and longtime activist, has devoted her career to fighting against income inequality, the dismantling of social programs, and inaction on climate change. As the winner of a National Newspaper Award for uncovering the Patti Starr affair in 1989, she has written for The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s magazine, and Conrad Black’s former publication, The National Post. Some of her publications include The Wealthy Banker’s Wife: The Assault on Equality in Canada (1993), All You Can Eat: Greed, Lust and the New Capitalism (2001), and It’s the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet (2004). In February 2006, Linda McQuaig came to SFU as the Visiting Scholar and gave lectures on “Resurrecting the Notion of the Common Good” at both the Burnaby and Vancouver campus. She now writes a weekly political column for the Toronto Star and contributes regularly to CBC Radio. Her most recent books include Holding the Bully’s Coat: Canada and the U.S. Empire (2007) and Billionaires’ Ball: Gluttony and Hubris in an Age of Epic Inequality (2012). In November 2013, she was the NDP candidate for Toronto Centre.

2009 | Dr. Jean Barman, a historian of British Columbia, is currently Professor Emerita at UBC, where she teaches cultural studies, history of education, and indigenous studies in the Department of Educational Studies. She has written extensively on British Columbian, Canadian, and indigenous history, and has received the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for historical writing and the 2006 City of Vancouver Book Award for Stanley Park’s Secret (2005). Her other publications include The West Beyond the West: A History of British Columbia (1991) and British Columbia: Spirit of the People (2008). In October 2009, she was invited to SFU as the Visiting Scholar and gave a public lecture, titled “Taking Everyday People Seriously: How French Canadians Saved British Columbia for Canada,” during her stay. Since then, she has co-edited Indigenous Women and Feminism: Politics, Activism, Culture (2011) and authored French Canadians, Furs, and Indigenous Women in the Making of the Pacific Northwest (2014). She has also received the 2014 George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for her “enduring contribution to society” and “outstanding literary career.”

2015 | Libby Davies is a British-born Canadian politician from BC. She first ran for Vancouver City Council in 1976 at the age of 23, and served as a Vancouver City Councillor from 1982 to 1993. In 1997, she ran and was elected for the first of her six terms as the Member of Parliament for Vancouver East. She also served as the House Leader for the NDP from 2003 to March 2011, and the Deputy Leader from 2007 until 2015. Prior to entering federal politics, she and her late partner, Bruce Eriksen, helped form the Downtown Eastside Residents’ Association in 1973. As an MP, Libby consistently raised issues of concern to her constituents in Parliament, including community safety, adequate childcare, and post-secondary education. Libby was also a tireless advocate in Parliament for a national housing program, and successfully forced federal governments to address this basic human right. In recognition of her lifelong dedication and service to public life, Libby was invited to SFU in September 2015 to give a lecture about her experience in politics. Her talk, titled "Grassroots Politics in Parliament," occurred a month before the Canadian federal election and explored the connections and challenges of grassroots political activism and how that translates into a Parliamentary environment that is slow, bureaucratic, and resistant to change.

2016 | Gail Davidson is a lawyer (retired status) whose work is devoted to promoting global adherence to international human rights and humanitarian law through advocacy, education, and research. She is the founder and Executive Director of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC), a committee of Canadian lawyers who promote human rights and the rule of law by providing international support to human rights defenders in danger. She is the co-founder of Lawyers Against the War (LAW), which opposes the illegal use of force against Afghanistan and other countries, and supports the use of national and international law to settle disputes, prosecute offenders, and protect rights. She received the UBC Great Trekker award (2014) for her work promoting human rights and work with UBC students and a Courage in Law award (2013) from the UBC Indigenous Law Students Association for her contributions to education and advocacy about First Nations’ rights.

2018 | Ratna Omidvar is an internationally recognized voice on migration, diversity and inclusion. In April 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Ms. Omidvar to the Senate of Canada as an independent Senator representing Ontario. As a member of the Senate’s Independent Senators Group she holds a leadership position as the Scroll Manager. Senator Omidvar is also the Deputy Chair of the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable Sector. Senator Omidvar is the founding Executive Director at the Global Diversity Exchange (GDX), Ryerson University. GDX is a think-and-do tank on diversity, migration and inclusion that connects local experience and ideas with global networks. Senator Omidvar serves as a Councillor on the World Refugee Council and she is also a director at the Environics Institute, and Samara Canada and is the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council’s Chair Emerita. She was formerly the Co-Chair of the Global Future Council on Migration hosted by the World Economic Forum and the Chair of Lifeline Syria. Senator Omidvar received a Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, from Ryerson University in 2018 and from York University in 2012. She is the co-author of  the book Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada (2015), an Open Book Toronto best book of 2015 and one of the Toronto Star's top five good reads from Word on the Street. Senator Omidvar was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2005 and became a Member of the Order of Canada in 2011, with both honours recognizing her advocacy work on behalf of immigrants and devotion to reducing inequality in Canada. In 2014, she received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of German-Canadian relations.

2019 | Marie Wilson, C.M., O.N.W.T., M.S.C., a Commissioner of the historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2009-2015), has been an award-winning journalist, trainer, federal and territorial executive manager, high school teacher in Africa, university lecturer, and consultant. Fluently bilingual in French and English, she has served as 2016 Professor of Practice at McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development, and a Mentor for the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. Ms. Wilson currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC-Radio-Canada) and the Rideau Hall Foundation. As a prominent public speaker throughout Canada and internationally, she brings acknowledged expertise on the successes and challenges of advancing reconciliation. Ms. Wilson holds honorary degrees from six Canadian universities, and in additional to several professional awards, is the recipient of the Order of the Northwest Territories, the Order of Canada, and the Meritorious Service Cross. She and her husband, Stephen Kakfwi, have three children and four grandchildren…her most valuable achievements!

The J.S. Woodsworth Visiting Scholars

The J.S. Woodsworth Visiting Scholars were invited to speak at the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University in honour of J.S. Woodsworth, who was a clergyman, social reformer, Member of Parliament, and founder of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation (CCF).

1990 | Sir Keith Thomas, who was appointed a Knight Bachelor in 1988, is a social and cultural historian of early modern England, and is best known as the author of Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971) and Man and the Natural World (1983). For his many contributions to the field, he has been awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Kent (1983), the University of Wales (1987), the University of Cambridge (1995), and the University of Sussex (1996), to name a few.  In 2001, he was also made the Honorary Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society and a Distinguished Fellow at the All Souls College, University of Oxford. Since his series of public presentations (April 3–5) at the Institute as the J.S. Woodsworth Visiting Scholar, he has published Changing Conceptions of National Biography (2005), The Ends of Life: Roads to Fulfillment in Early Modern England (2009), and the more recent The Wolfson History Prize 1972–2012: An Informal History (2012).

1990 | Derek Freeman (August 15, 1916–July 6, 2001) was a New Zealand anthropologist whose interests in evolutionary theory and psychoanalysis led him to publish works on the concepts of aggression and choice, such as “Social Anthropology and the Scientific Study of Human Behaviour” (1966), “Aggression: Instinct or Symptom?” (1971), and “Darwinian Psychological Anthropology: A Biosocial Approach” (1973). He was best known for his critique of Margaret Mead’s work on Samoan society in Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth (1983). During his stay as the Visiting Scholar from March 13–15, he presented a series of public presentations on his work. From 1990 until his death in 2001, he continued to write about Mead in such works as “Paradigms in Collision: Margaret Mead’s Mistake and What it has Done to Anthropology” (1997) and The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead: A Historical Analysis of her Samoan Research (1998).

1990 | Nancy Fraser is the Henry and Louise A. Loeb Professor of Philosophy and Politics at the New School for Social Research. She works on social and political theory, feminist theory, and contemporary French and German thought. A recipient of the American Philosophical Association’s 2010 Alfred Schutz Prize and of the Doctor Honoris Causa from the National University of Cordoba (Argentina), Fraser held a “Blaise Pascal International Research Chair” at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris in 2008-2010. She has also received fellowships from the Stanford Humanities Center, the Bunting Institute, the ACLS, the Humanities Research Institute at the University of California-Irvine, the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna, the Wissenchaftskolleg zu Berlin, and the American Academy in Berlin. She has taught at Northwestern University, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt Germany, the University of Paris, the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), and University of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca. In 2011, she was Humanitas Visiting Professor of Women’s Rights at Kings College, Cambridge University and Donald W. Gordon Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies in South Africa.