The Spry Memorial Lecture has a long history of tackling key issues facing Canadian media and its role in the national conversation. For the 2021 event, Spry joins with Media Democracy Days and the Digital Democracies Institute to bring together leading figures in Canadian media in conversation about race, media and building democracy in Canada.

Our panelists Desmond Cole and Tanya Talaga, along with moderator Candis Callison, will consider recent attention over the escalation of commentary on the representation of Indigenous, Black, and people of colour; the structural challenges that currently impede calls for greater diversity; and discuss how institutions and platforms can foster a more constructive dialogue. At a time when violent events internationally, nationally, and locally are making headlines on a frequent basis, the urgency of this panel is incontestable. Not to be missed!

Part of Towards Equity, SFU Public Square's 2021 Community Summit Series.

Thank you to leadership from Zoë Druick, Svitlana Matviyenko, Wendy Chun and Karrmen Crey for the original suggestions for panelists for such an event, and to Frederick Lesage, Stuart Poyntz, and Ahmed Al-Rawi for initial planning towards to Spry Lecture. The 2021 Spry Memorial Lecture could not have happened without this initial work, and the support received from the Digital Democracies Institute, Media Democracy Days, and Public Square. 

Watch the 2021 Memorial Lecture


Desmond Cole

DESMOND COLE is an award-winning journalist, radio host, and activist in Toronto. His writing has appeared in the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, The Walrus, NOW Magazine, Ethnic Aisle, Torontoist, BuzzFeed, and the Ottawa Citizen. The Skin We're In is Cole's first book. Follow Desmond Cole on Twitter.

Recent work: The Skin We're In

From Penguin Random House site:

A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada's most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We're In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists...Month-by-month, Cole creates a comprehensive picture of entrenched, systemic inequality. Urgent, controversial, and unsparingly honest, The Skin We’re In is destined to become a vital text for anti-racist and social justice movements in Canada, as well as a potent antidote to the all-too-present complacency of many white Canadians."

Tanya Talaga

Tanya Talaga, Ojibwe author and truth-teller.

TANYA TALAGA is a visionary for Canada’s reconciliation journey, with many awards and recognitions to her name.  Based on her bestseller All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward, Tanya shared the message of the emergency of Indigenous suicide in Canada on the 2018 Massey Lectures. Her previous book titled Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City shared the heart-breaking story of First Nations youth killed in Thunder Bay. 

Tanya Talaga is one of the most sought-after keynote speakers in Canada, with messages of truth, hope, and Indigenous inclusion in Canada.

Recent work: All Our Relations: CBC Massey Lectures

From her website:
"Every single year in Canada, one-third of all deaths among Indigenous youth are due to suicide. Studies indicate youth between the ages of ten and nineteen, living on reserve, are five to six times more likely to commit suicide than their peers in the rest of the population. Suicide is a new behaviour for First Nations people. There is no record of any suicide epidemics prior to the establishment of the 130 residential schools across Canada.

Bestselling and award-winning author Tanya Talaga argues that the aftershocks of cultural genocide have resulted in a disturbing rise in youth suicides in Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. She examines the tragic reality of children feeling so hopeless they want to die, of kids perishing in clusters, forming suicide pacts, or becoming romanced by the notion of dying — a phenomenon that experts call “suicidal ideation.” She also looks at the rising global crisis, as evidenced by the high suicide rates among the Inuit of Greenland and Aboriginal youth in Australia. Finally, she documents suicide prevention strategies in Nunavut, Seabird Island, and Greenland; Facebook’s development of AI software to actively link kids in crisis with mental health providers; and the push by First Nations leadership in Northern Ontario for a new national health strategy that could ultimately lead communities towards healing from the pain of suicide."


Candis Callison

CANDIS CALLISON is an Associate Professor in the UBC School of Journalism, Writing, and Media, and in the Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies. Her research and teaching are focused on changes to media practices and platforms, journalism ethics, the role of social movements in public discourse, and understanding how issues related to science and technology become meaningful for diverse publics.

Candis is the co-author of Reckoning: Journalism’s Limits and Possibilities (Oxford University Press, 2020), which draws on five years of research with journalists in the U.S. and Canada at a variety of news organizations including startups, legacy media, and freelancers. Candis’ first book, How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts (Duke University Press, 2014) used ethnographic methods and a comparative lens to bring together the work of science journalists, scientists, and three distinct social groups that are outside environmental movement and policy frameworks in an American context.

In 2019, Candis was inducted into The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she was the guest speaker at MIT’s 2018 Investiture of Doctoral Hoods. Candis was on leave from UBC during the last academic year (2018-19) and at Princeton University where she was the Pathy Distinguished Visitor in Canadian Studies. While at Princeton, she co-convened the International Symposium on Climate Change and Indigenous Communities.

Candis is Tahltan, an Indigenous people located in Northwestern British Columbia. She is a regular contributor on the podcast, Media Indigena. She was also named to Open Canada’s 2018 list of Indigenous Twitterati. Candis is a member of the Advisory Circle for The Indigenous Screen Office.


Recent work
Reckoning: Journalism's Limits and Possibilities co-authored with Mary Lynn Young

How do journalists know what they know? Who gets to decide what good journalism is and when it's done right? What sort of expertise do journalists have, and what role should and do they play in society? Until a couple of decades ago, journalists rarely asked these questions, largely because the answers were generally undisputed. Now, the stakes are rising for journalists as they face real-time critique and audience pushback for their ethics, news reporting, and relevance. Yet the crises facing journalism have been narrowly defined as the result of disruption by new technologies and economic decline. This book argues that the concerns are in fact much more profound.


Adel Iskandar

Adel Iskandar is an Assistant Professor of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver/Burnaby, Canada. He is the author, co-author, and editor of several works including "Egypt In Flux: Essays on an Unfinished Revolution" (AUCP/OUP); "Al-Jazeera: The Story of the Network that is Rattling Governments and Redefining Modern Journalism" (Basic Books); "Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation" (University of California Press); "Mediating the Arab Uprisings" (Tadween Publishing); and "Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring" (Palgrave Macmillan). Iskandar's work deals with media, identity and politics; and he has lectured extensively on these topics at universities worldwide. His forthcoming publications are two monographs, one addressing the political role of memes and digital satire and the other about contemporary forms of imperial transculturalism. Iskandar's engaged participatory research includes supporting knowledge production through scholarly digital publishing such as "Jadaliyya" and academic podcasting such as "Status." His community research agenda involves showcasing local grassroots participatory creative production by communities in the Middle East to confront the rise of extremism. Iskandar's work also involves the autobiographical documentation and self-representation of Syrian newcomer women in the Lower Mainland illustrates their ingenuity in the face adversity. Prior to his arrival at SFU, Iskandar taught at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and the Communication, Culture, and Technology Program at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC.