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Living Library Event Series

Living Library #9: International Women's Day

International Women's Day - Inspire Inclusion with Zakia Hamdani, Cassandra Ogunniyi, and Jennifer Dockstader

Moderated by Samah Sabra, Associate Director, Workplace Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion - Centre for Organizational Excellence, Niagara College

Zakia Hamdani is the Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Consult for the District School board of Niagara. With over 18 years of experience in the education sector, she currently supports the implementation of the DSBN Equity and Inclusion Policy and Strategy and provides professional development and coaching to educators and staff on anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and culturally responsive practices. She resides on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe peoples and is also an active community member of the Muslim community.

Jennifer Dockstader, Executive Director of the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre, hails from the Oneida of the Thames Nation, Bear Clan, and is a vigorous advocate for her Indigenous heritage. With over three decades of dedicated service to her community, she's led initiatives promoting health and resilience. Jennifer holds a Major in Vocal Music from the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts and an advanced degree in Psychology specializing in Addiction and Childhood Sexual Abuse from Temple University. Since 2014, she's spearheaded transformative efforts, embracing the Centre's mission of enhancing Native life and fostering community unity. Jennifer, a proud mother, and advocate for women's strength, embodies the spirit of service and empowerment.  

Cassie Ogunniyi is the Manager of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Indigenous Relations in the Growth, Strategy, and Economic Development Department at Niagara Region. In this role she led the development and now the implementation of the Region’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan 2023-2027. Earlier in her career, Cassie spent a decade overseas working and studying in six countries across four continents, which resulted in a PhD in Sport Management from the University of Johannesburg, a Master of Social Science in Practical Anthropology from the University of Cape Town, and a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in International Development Studies from the University of Toronto. Outside of work, Cassie likes to spend time with her family, enjoy the natural beauty of our world, play soccer and ice hockey, and referee ringette.


This event was held March 5, 2024 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. as a hybrid event.

Click HERE [pass code: rQ!SfSy9] to access a video recording of the presentation. 

News Release: InsideNC

Living Library #8: Indigenous Veterans Day: Retired Command Sergeant Major Ronald L. Cook Jr. and Vietnam Veteran Tom Dockstader

Indigenous Veterans Day: In Conversation with Retired Command Sergeant Major Ronald L. Cook Jr. and Vietnam Veteran Tom Dockstader

Moderated by Karl Dockstader

Retired Command Sergeant Major Ronald L. Cook Jr. is a Seneca Nation Snipe Clan citizen from Cattaraugus. Across 27 years of active service CSM Cook served overseas and has had combat tours in Panama, South Asia, and Iraq. Upon retirement Ron worked to help youth struggling with addiction, and works alongside his fellow veterans in community. CSM Cook’s son has worked actively to honour Veterans by designing the Marvin “Joe” Curry Veteran Powwow logo and his daughter serves in the Navy to protect Turtle Island continuing the family legacy of military service. 

Tom Dockstader is a Buffalo born Oneida Bear Clan citizen. He served in the Vietnam War achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant in 1971. After his service Tom went on to get his Masters in Education from the State University of New York at Buffalo which he used to dedicate his career to helping his people in Southern Ontario and Western New York where he is now retired.

This event was held November 6, 2023 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Click HERE to access a video recording of the presentation. 

News Release: Niagara College InsideNC Announcement

For your reference, here are some additional links and information associated with this event:

  • Good2Talk
  • Talk4Healing
  • Mental Health Supports: Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310. Require immediate support? Call toll-free, 24/7 for access to supports, counselling and crisis intervention.
    • Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. Experienced Helpline counsellors, many are Indigenous, can help if asked to find wellness supports that are available in your area.
  • The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
  • Military Mental Health Member Assistance Program: 1-800-268-7708. Call for a confidential talk 24 hours a day, everyday.
  • Family Information Line: 1-800-866-4546. Call seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
  • Iroquois Post 1587 American Legion https://iroquoispost1587al.org/ . To donate: https://iroquoispost1587al.org/donation-tab .
  • https://www.fenfc.org/

Living Library #7 - Alison Ryder and Ellen Schmidt

"A Journey Taken Together" with Alison Ryder and her mom, Ellen Schmidt

Moderated by Bruin Pol, President of the Rainbow Knights and NC Student

Alison Ryder is a strong voice for equity, diversity and inclusion at Niagara College. Through her work with Marketing and Recruitment, Ali, has reached many students needing that ally and friend. Her unwavering commitment to the students and her willingness to always have a chat with someone  has endeared her to many. In 2022, Ali wrote an article for a local newspaper, called "A Journey Taken Together" which chronicled the story of her own experiences of coming out and how her mother supported her and became a true champion every child hopes to have. "A Journey Taken Together" can be read here. It is a truly inspirational and motivating story we can all learn from.   

Alison's mom, Ellen Schmidt, has supported her daughter and has become a real voice for those needing it. Mother and daughter team up for this candid conversation about this journey they have taken together.

Bruin is a passionate advocate for 2SLGBTQIA+ rights and youth mental health, he is also a proud resident of Niagara who enjoys standing up for others and being the voice of change. Bruin serves as the President of the Niagara College Rainbow Knights club, which champions diversity, tolerance, and acceptance for all students. He works tirelessly to promote change, collaborating with various departments at Niagara College to foster a more inclusive environment for all students. Bruin also advocates for marginalized students within his club and actively engages with others to also promote inclusivity and acceptance.

This event was held June 7, 2023 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Click HERE to access a video recording of the presentation on YouTube. 

News Release: Niagara College InsideNC Announcement

Living Library #6 - Adam Shoalts

  Environmental / Sustainability event, a talk with Adam Shoalts

 (Moderator: Evan DiValentino, Associate Dean, Niagara College School of Environment & Horticulture)

 ncLibraries and Learning Commons were excited to announce that Adam Shoalts was our speaker for an environmental / sustainability-focused perspective for the 6th Living Library Zoom event on October 12, 2022 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

 Adam Shoalts is a professional explorer and national best-selling author. In 2013, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society for “extraordinary contributions to geography” and in 2017 completed a nearly 4,000 km solo journey across Canada’s Arctic. A geographer and historian, he holds a Ph.D. from McMaster University, has participated in numerous archaeological digs, and undertakes solo expeditions in the most remote wilderness areas. He is the Westaway Explorer-in-Residence of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and in 2016 was named a national champion of the Trans-Canada Trail.

The highly anticipated, incredible story of Adam’s nearly 4,000 km solo journey across Canada’s Arctic.  A #1 bestseller on Amazon and voted a “best book of the year” by Indigo.

Adam's books are available at the library to borrow: A history of Canada in ten maps ||  Alone against the north  ||  The whisper on the night wind  ||  Beyond the trees .

Link to recording: Zoom recording

Niagara College insideNC Announcement

Additional Resources:  https://adamshoalts.com/  ||  https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/light-pollution  || Environmental Management and Assessment subject guide

Streaming video: https://adamshoalts.com/expeditions/

Living Library #5 - Jolie Phuong Hoang

  Asian Heritage Month -- A Conversation With Jolie Phuong Hoang

   (Moderator: Alexander McGlashan, Niagara College professor, School of Technology)

  Jolie Phuong Hoang is a math professor at Niagara College. She has written several books, available to borrow from the library: Anchorless & Three funerals for my father. She escaped Vietnam in 1983 with five siblings and settled in Canada in 1984. Writing is her concealed passion that has patiently waited for the right time to reveal itself. Her debut novel, Anchorless (2019), received First Prize, Literary Fiction North Street Book Prize; Honorable Mention San Francisco Book Festival; Runner-Up New England Book Festival; and, Bronze Medal Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

Her 2020 essay, June Sisters, made the short list of Surrey International Writers' Conference. Her most recent novel, Three Funerals for My Father, CBC Books recommended as 1 of 57 works of Canadian nonfiction to read for Fall 2021. Jolie lives with her daughters in Fonthill, Ontario.

This event was held on May 18, 2022 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Click HERE to access a recording of the presentation.

News Release: Niagara College Announcement

Jolie's website: https://www.joliehoang.com/

Additional resources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9Gi75r2-Ko // Anti-Asian Discrimination Subject Guide .

Living Library #4 - Tracey Deer, Director and Co-writer of Beans

  Living Library with Tracey Deer, Director and Co-writer of Beans

 A highlight of Indigenous Awareness Month 2021 was the Nov. 24 Living Library Zoom event from 2-4 p.m. with Tracey Deer, Director and Co-writer of the award-winning film Beans, which shines the spotlight on the turbulent Indigenous uprising that tore Quebec and Canada apart for 78 days during the Oka Crisis in 1990. Indigenous Education and the ncLibraries and Learning Commons were excited to announce that Karl Dockstader from the One Dish, One Mic radio program joined the event to lead the conversation about the film’s important messages on treaty rights and relationships.

Link to recording: Living Library- BEANS: A Conversation with Tracey Deer by Hosted by Karl Dockstader

Streaming video: BEANS by Tracey Deer Call Number: Criterion on Demand, Publication Date: 2020

Living Library #3 - Empress Claudia Silva

  Pride Niagara - Spilling the Tea: A Conversation With Empress Claudia Silva

  Niagara native, drag personality, pageant coordinator, event planner, entertainer, activist, and community influencer “The Empress” Claudia Silva is your friendly neighbourhood Empress with an inherited insight of shiny things. “The Empress” operates out of the Niagara Region, performing, and fundraising with LGBTQ+ organizations across Canada / United States over the past 20 years. A regular face and voice behind countless microphones of Niagara one-time gay nightlife and co-host of Niagara Region’s Original Drag brunch, the infamous “Drag it to Brunch” and Pride Niagara’s online series Spilling the Tea. “The Empress” describes herself as fun, single and recommends you do not touch her hair.

Pride Niagara is a celebration of Niagara’s sexual and gender diverse community and its supporters. With a board of directors made up of Niagara’s diverse community members and allies, we provide social activities and information for the LGBTQ+ Niagara Region. Celebrating our LGBTQ+ heritage and building traditions together.

This event was held on June 18, 2021 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Click HERE to access a video recording of the presentation.

Niagara Release: Niagara College Announcement

During the talk, "The Empress" made several references to local businesses and drag performers, listed below.

Local businesses: Positive Living Niagara || Mason Coates - Local LGBTQ+ Life Coach || Quest Community Health Centre || SPNN - Senior Pride Network of Niagara || The Vegan Hippie Chick || The International Court System || The Niagara Region LGBTQ+ Women's Group || Mahtay Café & Lounge || Klawe Kouture || Dine Niagara

Local Drag Performers: Liberty Stands || Izzy Straight Silva || Nathan Silva Drake || Macy Manolo || Katana || Raven S Klawe || Zara || Queen Mother Rhonda Richards || Shada Black

Living Library #2 - Sherri Darlene

Justice 4 Black Lives Niagara - A Conversation With Sherri Darlene

Sherri Darlene, Niagara region anti-racism activist and organizer, led a Justice 4 Black Lives protest with over 3,000 participants on June 6, 2020, in Niagara Falls, ON. Her Living Library discussion drew from her own experiences, as well as themes discussed in the books Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race & White FragilitySherri also led the College community through questions on systematic racism, anti-racism, and how to be an ally.

This event was held February 23, 2021, 1:30pm to 3:00pm.

Click HERE to access a video recording of the presentation. 

News Release: Niagara College Announcement

Living Library #1 - One Dish One Mic Podcast

One Dish One Mic FlyerWe Are All Treaty People: One Dish One Mic

One Dish One Mic podcasters, Sean VanderKlis and Karl Dockstader, won the Canadian Journalism Foundation-CBC Indigenous Fellowship Award in 2020. Their dynamic Living Library conversation touched on treaties, Indigenous land rights, and Canadian identify. 

This event was held in partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and the Niagara College Indigenous Education department. December 1st, 2020, 2pm to 4pm.

Click HERE to access the video recording of the presentation. 

News Releases: Niagara College Announcement, Education News Canada

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