Many UVic faculty and staff have relationships with African partners, but they have generally worked in isolation from one another. That is about to change with the creation of the African Partnerships Network at UVic, a forum that brings together faculty and staff with research and academic interests in African countries. The network will provide an opportunity for these scholars to create synergies and to develop new programs at UVic with an African focus.
The network steering committee, with representation from different academic areas, has begun work on some concrete areas for engagement, one of which is a speaker series on African themes, which commences this month.
On April 2, Justine Masika Bihamba, president of Synergie des femmes pour les victimes des violences sexuelle (SFVS), will speak on “Mining Women’s Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa: Engaging Civil Society in the Process of Upholding Women’s Rights Globally.” SFVS is a leading nongovernmental organization in the Congo that provides direct support to thousands of survivors of sexual violence. This free public talk will be held at 1 p.m. in the Michèle Pujol Room of the Student Union Building.
And on April 28, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Strong C116, Moussa Magassa, human rights educator at the UVic Equity and Human Rights Office, will speak on “Ubuntu, ‘the Human Side of Human Being’: Indigenous Conflict Resolution Approaches in African Context.” Before immigrating to Canada, Magassa worked in the demilitarization field in post-apartheid South Africa, specializing in conflict analysis/resolution, non-violence peace education and curriculum design.
Other plans include offering a series of orientation sessions for students going on placements to African countries or returning from Africa. All UVic students going on overseas placements receive some generic orientation and training. However, those on placements in African countries often face situations and challenges beyond what they have discussed during these orientation sessions. To meet their needs, Magassa will lead a series of orientation sessions specially designed for students going on placements to Africa.
The network is also planning a new course that examines development issues in the African context across a number of disciplines and interconnected themes.
The network steering committee is looking for African students interested in getting involved. If you are an international visa student or a citizen of an African country with permanent residence in Canada, or a refugee student from Africa and are interested in joining the steering committee, contact the Office of International Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.