Social Justice Education Symposium, May 25 2019


***Please note that last-minute changes are always a possibility!***

9:00 a.m. – Registration and Check-in
9:30 a.m. – Keynote panel: On Discipline“.
How do we address calls for more student discipline from a social
justice perspective? Speakers include Richard Derible and Amy Hunt
(NS Department of Justice), Prasanna Kariyawansa (trauma-informed
care), Sandra Hannebohm (The Objective NS), Susan Zurawski
(program support teacher), and Andreas Robinson (Limitless). 
11:00 a.m – Break
11:15 – First set of workshops: 
Restorative approaches – Amy Hunt and Richard Derible
– Child Poverty and our Classrooms – Debbie Reimer
– School Choice? Voucher Systems? Charter Schools? – Grant Frost
12:15 – Lunch
1:15 Second set of workshops:
From Access to Actualizing: Planning for Equitable Education for
African Nova Scotian Students – Malik Adams
– Climate justice in Nova Scotia – Shannon Power, Kenn Orphan and
Amber Tucker
– Salaam B’y – A Story Of A Muslim Newfoundlander (film & educator’s
guide introduction) – Aatif Baskanderi
2:15 – Break
2:30 – Third set of workshops

It’s my party: Why partisan organizing matters – Alia Saied and Joanne
Workers’ Rights: Past and present – Katrin Macphee and Laura
Climate Strike! – Citadel High School students

Workshop descriptions and bios (In progress – to be completed soon!)

The Why, How & What of Taking a Restorative Approach in Schools
Taking a restorative approach in education which seeks to support just relations and healthy school communities requires building, maintaining and restoring relationships based on mutual respect, care, concern and dignity.  In this session, Richard and Amy will engage participants in learning about what difference it makes in school communities when we take a restorative approach when working with students, staff and families. They will provide an overview of restorative initiatives in Nova Scotia, in which schools are situated, and how they are supported by relational theory and relational principles for practice.  Group discussions and activities will focus on practical applications in school settings.

Richard Derible is the Director of Restorative Initiatives with the Nova Scotia Department of Justice (DOJ).  Before joining the DOJ Richard worked as a classroom teacher, vice principal, principal, Safe Schools consultant and School Administration Supervisor with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE).  Richard also led the Restorative Approach in Schools Project between 2012 and 2015. While Principal at St. Catherine’s School in Halifax, Richard adopted a restorative approach which led to significant and positive impact on the school’s culture, climate and academic achievement.Prior to his work with the HRCE, Richard worked for the Special Projects Division of the Department of Community Services where he developed inclusive outdoor experiential programs for children with special needs and at-risk youth.  

Amy Hunt is the Restorative Approach in Schools Coordinator at the Nova Scotia Department of Justice (DOJ). Before joining the Restorative Initiatives Unit at the DOJ, she was a classroom teacher and vice principal with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE), most recently at St. Joseph’s A McKay School in North End Halifax. Prior to HRCE, Amy worked in the field of international development in Ottawa, Cuba and Chile. Amy is also a part-time university instructor at Mount Saint Vincent University and PhD student at the University of Glasgow with a focus on taking a restorative approach (RA) in education.


Child poverty: In the classroom and beyond
Poverty impacts children in every single aspect of their lives. Why we are more comfortable calling it “child poverty” than simply “poverty”? How easy it is to hide or ignore poverty “if you choose to”? What are some outside-the-box ways of addressing poverty; ways to make things more equitable in the classroom and on the school grounds? How do we make sure poverty reduction stays at the top of the government’s agenda?

Debra E. Reimer, MSW, RSW entered University having completed Grade 9 and received 2 credits in Grade 10.  Since then, she has attained a BA (Psych), a Diploma in Counseling and a Master of Social Work degree.  She did this while raising two children and receiving social assistance.  She graduated from Acadia University in 1992 with the distinction “University Scholar” and in 1994 she graduated from Carleton University with that same distinction.  She began working in direct programming with the Kids Action Program (AVH CAPC) in the fall of 1994; she is now the Executive Director.  She is a strong advocate for children and families and entered the Non-Profit Family Resource field to help address injustices and barriers families face every day.  She has first hand knowledge about the difficulties faced while living in poverty; it was that experience that influenced her decision to do the work she does.



School Choice? Voucher Systems? Charter Schools?
The language of educational options can be nothing if not daunting. In this presentation, we will examine the idea of school choice and charters, exploding some of the myths that surround these ideas and exposing one of the largest threats being faced by public education today. Who wants Charter schools? Why? What motivates these groups? By the end of this session we will have unpacked the complex answers to these questions in a way that will hopefully resonate with parents, teachers and members of the public at large.

Grant Frost is an educational commentator and a frequent contributing author to the Chronicle Herald. His career spans 25 years of teaching, both within the public and First-Nations education system. His latest book, “The Attack on Nova Scotia Schools” is currently being reviewed for publication by Formac-Lorimer. He is presently serving as President for the Halifax County Local of the NSTU, and he blogs at


Salaam B’y – A Story Of A Muslim Newfoundlander (film & educator’s guide introduction)
Salaam B’y presents a story of social inclusion as a pillar of sustainable innovative communities. At a time of increasing racial and religious friction across the Canada, Aatif’s story is a reminder of what can happen when a community welcomes newcomers with open arms. The Educator’s Guide is built for Grade 7-12 to engage with root causes of discrimination through positive engagement and social innovation activities building around kindness, empathy and identity.

Aatif Baskanderi grew up in Clarenville, NL and currently lives in Calgary, AB working as an innovation manager at a global power utility. He has a Bachelor of Engineering & Master of Technology Management from Memorial University, and a M.Sc. Social Policy & Development from the London School of Economics, leading to a diverse career centered on innovation for social good.


Climate Justice in Nova Scotia
Solidarity K’jikpuktuk-Halifax ’s Eco-Justice committee would like to engage teachers and community members in learning and discussion about climate justice and what ongoing climate-induced crises mean for teaching and supporting youth in Nova Scotia. We would like to discuss how climate change and our continued reliance on resource extraction projects upholds a capitalist system predicated on the myth of unlimited growth and colonialism by making connections to local struggles such as offshore drilling in Nova Scotia and the Mi’kmaq-led resistance to the Alton Gas project along the Shubenacadie river.

Shannon Power, Kenn Orphan and Amber Tucker are members of Solidarity K’jipuktuk-Halifax’s eco justice committee.


Workers’ Rights: Past and Present
This presentation will provide a historical overview of the movement for workplace justice in Nova Scotia, a summary of non-unionized workers’ rights and how those rights change once the workplace is unionized, and will end with a discussion about how the modern struggle for workers’ rights is being fought locally by the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign. Our workshop is intended for an audience of either youth or adults.

Lisa Cameron had a number of negative experiences with jobs in the retail and service sector which sparked her passion for workplace rights activism. She became involved in the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign in Ontario where she gained experience in political organizing and workplace rights education. She moved to Halifax this year, where she became an organizer with the Fight for $15 and fairness campaign locally, and the Halifax Workers’ Action Centre. 

Katrin MacPhee is a member of Solidarity K’jipuktuk Halifax as well as an organizer with the Halifax Workers’ Action Centre and the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign. She is now a labour, employment, and human rights lawyer. Before law school she studied labour history. 


From Access to Actualizing: Planning for Equitable Education for African Nova Scotian Students
This session will identify both the significant historical context of African Nova Scotian public school education, and the current state of African Nova Scotian students’ programming in public school. From various social justice perspectives, we will explore possibilities to “make a reality of” full educational opportunities and experiences for our students.

Malik Adams is a 20-year public school teacher in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has taught at junior and senior high levels. He has 3 Masters Degrees in Education: 2 from MSVU, focusing in Curriculum, and Lifelong Learning in Africentric Leadership, respectively. He also has a Masters in Education (Counselling) from Acadia University in Canada.

Malik has developed curriculum for the DOEECD in Nova Scotia. He has trained teachers in delivering such courses and texts, and was a mentor teacher for university students most of his career. Malik continues to work with Black men in prisons, using Africentric principles to encourage dialogue and literacy to support their lives in prison, and upon their exit from prison. He is an executive member of the Halifax City Local chapter of the NSTU, and a long-time member of the Black Educators Association of NS.


It’s My Party: Why partisan organizing matters
Is there hope in big ‘P’ politics? This workshop will explore the importance of partisan organizing as a component of advancing social, economic and environmental justice goals. It will unpack the discomfort and complexities associated with partisanship, and consider the value of deepening engagement in electoral politics. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on their experiences in grassroots and/or partisan organizing and discuss strategies for political activism.

Joanne Hussey (preferred pronouns: she/her) works in the NS NDP caucus office as Deputy Chief of Staff and is the researcher on a number of portfolios including Education and Early Childhood Development, Community Services, Justice, Finance and Treasury Board and Status of Women. Joanne was the NDP candidate for Fairview Clayton Park in the 2017 provincial election and, in 2015, ran for the NDP in the longest federal election in modern history. Through her career as a social policy researcher and small business owner, Joanne has had the opportunity to work with provincial and federal government departments, not for profit organizations, and Aboriginal groups. Joanne has a Master’s degree in Gender Studies and Social Policy.

Alia Saied is an adventurer of many disciplines who believes good communication is leadership in action. She is the caucus coordinator with the NS NDP Caucus after many years of working with university students in a student affairs context. With a B.A in IDS and Spanish, she has travelled and lived in the global south and the Canadian north. In her other time, she serves as a Facilitator, Justice of the Peace, birth doula and DJ.