Inspiring Speakers Series 2021

Sponsored by RBC Future Launch. The Inspiring Speakers Series 2021 is moderated by visual artist, community organizer and social activist Nura Ali, in conversation with interdisciplinary artist and educator Deanna Bowen and Dr. Karina Vernon Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Bowen and Vernon will virtually discuss their individual research-based practices, and use of archives to confront false narratives about Black people’s presence in the prairies and throughout Canada, as well as the erasure of Black people from Canadian history.  

Nura Ali is a visual artist, community organizer and social activist, living and working in Calgary, Alberta. Her multidisciplinary practise engages issues of memory, place building, displacement and power. Nura is committed to community oriented organising and for this reason became one of the founding members of the Vancouver Artists Labour Union, a unionized workers cooperative with a mission to transform labour practices within the arts and cultural sector. Nura is deeply invested in strategies to dismantle oppressive structures and is keenly motivated to create welcoming,  inclusive and equitable spaces in the art world. 

Deanna Bowen is a descendant of two Alabama and Kentucky born Black Prairie pioneer families from Amber Valley and Campsie, Alberta. Bowen’s family history has been the central pivot of her auto-ethnographic interdisciplinary works since the early 1990s. She makes use of a repertoire of artistic gestures in order to define the Black body and trace its presence and movement in place and time. In recent years, her work has involved close examination of her family’s migration and their connections to Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley and Black Strathcona, the “All-Black” towns of Oklahoma, the Kansas Exoduster migrations and the Ku Klux Klan in Canada and the US. She is a recipient of a 2020 Governor General Award for Visual and Media Arts Award, a 2018 Canada Council Research and Creation Grant, an Ontario Arts Council Media Arts Grant in 2017, a 2016 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and the 2014 William H. Johnson Prize. Her writing, interviews and art works have been published in Canadian Art, The Capilano Review, The Black Prairie Archives, and Transition Magazine. Bowen is editor of the 2019 publication Other Places: Reflections on Media Arts in Canada.

Dr. Karina Vernon is Associate Professor of English at the University of Toronto Scarborough where she researches and teaches in the areas of Canadian and Black Canadian literature, Black aesthetics, archives, critical pedagogy, and Black-Indigenous solidarities. She is editor of The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology, published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in 2020 and a forthcoming companion volume, Critical Readings in the Black Prairie Archives. 

Reading List

All editions of the reading list can be found HERE

Additional Resources

Inspiring Speaker Series 2021 Recording

Sponsored by RBC Future Launch

Event Date

Tuesday April 6th, 20213pm MST / 5pm EST