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Summer 2017

If you’ve received this newsletter, you’re a member of the OCAD Faculty Association. Whether you’re full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent, teaching assistant, technician, instructor or program chair, OCADFA is the union that represents you in bargaining and in the complaints process.

We are excited to share this second newsletter with our members. Once a semester we will be reaching out to bring you useful information, share upcoming events, and profile faculty members as a way for all of us to get to know each other better. We invite you to contribute by sending us feedback, news, or article ideas at

OCADFA is a member led association - the Board takes all its directions from the membership.

The OCADFA Board is: Christopher Bennell, Frederick Burbach, Bill Leeming, Bogdan Luca, Kathleen Morris, Charles Reeve, Eric Steenbergen, Amy Swartz

OCAD U Union affiliation information

For the second consecutive negotiating round, the right to strike is a key OCADFA demand. Whether we will get this right in the current round of contract negotiations remains unclear, as the Employer steadfastly opposes it. But it’s possible, because we brought this matter to the mediator in the last round of negotiations, and that possibility raises the issue of how OCADFA would support its members financially in a strike. This document summarizes our main options. How did we get here? For 144 years, our faculty has done without the right to strike. However, the Employer’s resistance to improvements in working conditions over the last several bargaining rounds has fostered widespread support for acquiring this right. Relative to sector norms, studio faculty remain overworked, limited-term contracts remain over-used and everyone is underpaid - and these situations are particularly bad for Teaching Intensive Stream and Sessional Instructors. (By the way, the Administration does not face the same situation: the OCADU President has never been close to the worst-paid president in Ontario and her 10% raise in 2015 brought her salary to $283,250, in reach of the presidents of much larger universities like Trent and Laurentian.) There has been some progress: for example, teaching load has declined slightly in all areas. But these changes have come despite strong Employer opposition, leading, frustratingly, to mediation for the third straight time. So here we are, with the right to strike a real possibility.

What options do we have to support a strike? There are two points here. First, having the right to strike does not mean going on strike. Strikes are relatively rare, and in any case a union can legally strike only when its contract has expired (so if we get the right to strike this winter, we only can consider striking after our next contract ends). What is important for OCADFA, as discussed in the May 2016 meeting, is to have the threat of a strike as a powerful tool for our negotiations team in future rounds. Second, the best way to avoid a strike is to prepare for it - which means, among other things, having access to a strike fund.

Four organizations are interested in playing this role for us:
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE),
Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU),
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and the
Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) Defence Fund.

Please click here for the pamphlet providing pros and cons of various affiliation options so you can have an informed conversation about this key matter.

Charles Reeve, OCADFA President


What's New


The OCADFA SOCIAL JUSTICE Caucus was struck at the General Membership meeting of April 26th (under the initial name of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour- BIPOC ) and the first meeting was held on May 12th. Currently, the name of this Caucus is being discussed so as to better represent its members, allies, and participants. It’s formation derives from an OCADFA membership driven initiative to directly address priorities of decolonization, diversity and equity, outlined in OCADU’s Academic Plan. As an OCADFA initiative the Caucus is primarily concerned with how racism and other forms of exclusion impact our working environments and our Memorandum of Agreement. To this end, the Caucus will serve OCADFA members in collectively organizing support, information, education, strategy, professional and social events so as to address and challenge racism at OCADU.  This includes reviewing existing OCADFA structures in order to develop better communication and Faculty Association practices, committed to anti-racist and anti-oppressive principles. As a Caucus democratically organized by OCADFA members, it’s also an opportunity to foster an active membership that is committed to social change and justice. The OCADFA SOCIAL JUSTICE Caucus is open to any OCADFA member. To be included in email communication and if you are interested in joining and participating, please contact: Maria Belén Ordóñez . For event and media information sharing, join the new FB closed group: OCADFA SOCIAL JUSTICE CAUCUS
* The name of this Caucus is still under revision as the group forms and develops over the next few months. The name OCAFA SOCIAL JUSTICE CAUCUS is a place-holder to indicate the initiative and it’s development.

Recently retired faculty members

Paul Epp, Faculty of Design, past OCADFA Board member
Paul Dempsey, Faculty of Art, past OCADFA President
Cheryl Daniels, Technician
Robert Berger, Faculty of Design

Indian status: 5 things you need to know


The Indian Act defines who is and who is not recognized as an "Indian," but that doesn't mean all aboriginal people in Canada have Indian status or get free education.

Filmmaker Howard Adler explores what it means to have Indian status in a new film called Status, airing tonight on CBC Television in Ottawa.

Decolonising the Curriculum | Melz Owusu

Decolonising the Curriculum | Melz Owusu | TEDxUniversityofLeeds

Melz who was the Education Officer in the University of Leeds and a recent graduate of the university gave her insight of the current curriculum in our generation speaking from experience in the form of both talking and rapping.

Member Profiles

Mariam Magsi, Teaching Assistant IAMD
What do you like about being a TA?
This is my second semester as a TA. I believe that education and knowledge should be shared with others in diverse ways. By assisting professors in Global Visual Material Culture courses, I am able to absorb new and old knowledge while simultaneously thinking of creative ways to share it further with my students. A benefit of TA-ing in a diverse city like Toronto is that my students are comprised of young adults from all ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. This compels me to diversify my teaching methods in creative ways.  For example, to make the learning of art movements easier for the students, I encouraged them to use visual maps to highlight key dates, artists and historical contexts for assigned art movements. One group came up with a TTC inspired subway system for the Dada art movement. I cherish these creative moments. They remind me that TA-ing is a learning process for both the student and the TA.

What would you like to see change about the job?
I feel that we are not prepared for the courses we are given to TA, and are thrown into the semester, under the presumption that we know everything. It would be nice to have an orientation or two with the professor before the course begins, or set up consistent online correspondence in advance of the course so as to be better prepared for the first tutorial.  
Learning and teaching methods need to incorporate more visual and engaging ways to help students absorb difficult material.  Not every student has a Eurocentric education background.  In my own experience as a Pakistani in Canada, I have struggled with hard French names, European schools of thought and academic writing and I see many of my own struggles echo in the challenges faced by my diverse students. The academic research essays and memorization of large quantities of dates, names, techniques and movements is counter productive. Having surveyed multiple students in two separate groups, I often hear them complain about retention difficulty of the material, lack of focus, high anxiety levels to the point of being socially crippled and various other challenges that hinder true, inspired learning.
Maria Belén Ordóñez, Teaching Intensive Stream FOLASSIS
Maria Belén is a cultural anthropologist whose ethnographic writing engages with the affective impacts of events in disparate locations such as media headlines; queer identified spaces of pleasure and activism, and the contested zones of censorship and sexual regulation in urban and virtual contexts. She uses feminist methodologies and multi-sited ethnography to think and write about the emergence and undoing of public events.  She is a member of FemTechNet ( developing curriculum for Distributed Open Collaborative Courses (DOCC). Maria Belén teaches ethnographic writing, feminist/queer theory and body politics.

My role as an educator is to help assemble seed bags of knowledge that creatively disperse beyond the institution for actively learning to live with each other in radically new ways. What thoughtful propositions of interconnection will we compose in difficult times? What communities of joy will we nurture in the pursuit of alternative worlds?
Tak Pham, Teaching Assistant CRCP

What do you like about being a TA?
I like how much of a role I have in shaping the student experience, especially of the first year students. TAs are these students' first impression of what a post-secondary classroom environment is like. As a cultural worker, interactions with my students help inform me what the younger generations of talents are thinking, and what we need to do in order to keep them critically engaged and invested.   
What you would like to see change about the job? 
I would like to see a raise in compensation to TAs. As you can see above, the values of TA go outside of the general job description. We do much more than marking assignments and facilitating tutorials. We have to teach students the necessarily skills for their future academic success, and sometimes guide them through the bureaucracy of the University. We often sympathize with the students because the majority of TAs at OCADU are either current Grad students or alumni. A raise in compensation allows TAs to spend more time with course material, and recognizes the important influence that TAs have in improving the student experience at OCADU.
Jennifer Rudder, Assistant Professor CRCP

Can you teach curatorial skills in a class room?
Yes. Isn’t it better to learn by working inside the museum or gallery? Well yes. My emphasis in teaching curatorial and criticism students at OCAD U is on the importance of looking at the work of art deeply and learning to trust their own immediate observations.
Learning to trust your intuition of the meaning and concept of a work of art is an essential act for both the art writer and curator. As a writer, I teach the students to write through simple exercises and many drafts. I take the students to experience the full variety of exhibitions and galleries in Toronto: public, commercial, artist-run, museums. Many students - even in third year are unaware of the many art galleries and venues in Toronto and don’t feel ‘welcome’ to enter. When we visit galleries I arrange for the director, curator or exhibiting artist to speak to the class about their role, which helps to demystify the gallery. They begin to imagine themselves as future directors, curators, programmers working in the field. The Criticism and Curatorial Practice department at OCAD U is unique in Canada as a full undergraduate program within a university. The one limitation of the program is the lack of designated student exhibition space at OCAD U.

Le Rêve aux Loups, is a solo survey exhibition of the works of Ontario College of Art alumna Mary Anne Barkhouse curated by Jennifer Rudder, opens at the Koffler Art Gallery in June 2017, and at the Esker Foundation in Calgary Alberta in September 2017.

News You Can Use

Universities Art Association of Canada Conference

Be a part of UAAC's 50th Anniversary Conference, on from October 12 to 15.

Uncertain Futures

Uncertain Futures is an interdisciplinary conference hosted by OCAD University and the Canadian Association for American Studies from October 27 to 29.
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