Gender Equality and Social Justice

Welcome to Gender Equality and Social Justice at Nipissing University

Do you want to make the world a more just and better place? Are you passionate about issues like human rights violations, sexism, racism, homophobia, and poverty? Would you like to understand these issues better? Then the Gender Equality and Social Justice (GESJ) program is for you.

GESJ is an interdisciplinary program with courses in the areas of Culture and Criticism, Power and Inequality, and Human Rights and Social Justice. We ask how race, class, colonialism, ability, sex, and gender intersect in everyday acts of power, oppression, activism, and resistance.

This program will provide you with highly transferrable skills in critical thinking, research, writing, argumentation, analysis, and communication.

As one of few programs of its kind in Canada, the GESJ program will teach you to think critically about who has the power in the world, and why, as well as how to resist, shape, and change power for social justice. This program is highly interdisciplinary with close links to Social Welfare and Social Development, Religions and Cultures, Political Science, and Philosophy, and is designed for those with interests in critical studies of popular culture; the politics of resisting inequality through the law; globalization and human rights; violent conflict and international justice; transnational organizing for social justice; histories of colonization; feminist philosophies; postmodernism; theories of justice; and the intersections of race, class, ability, sex and gender.

Students of the GESJ Department will receive a broad liberal education in Humanities and Social Sciences. Through a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, you will examine the social and cultural constructions of gender, sexuality, race and class, and how these social categories relate to our knowledge, experience, relationships and the quality of our lives.

See for yourself at ONTARIO'S UNIVERSITIES.​​​

Culture and Criticism Stream

From the social media sites that we check everyday to the TV shows that we stream at night, media are central in forging our identities, connecting with others, and understanding the world around us. With close attention to representations of sex, gender, race, class, and sexuality, Culture and Criticism courses critically analyze how media reflect and dramatize social inequalities and transformations.

Power and Inequality Stream

What is power? How does it work? How might institutions—such as law, government, media, medical science, education, religion, the economy—produce inequality on the basis of gender, sexuality, race, economic class, and disability? How are cultural values and representations, various forms of violence, and our “everyday practices” (such as taking a shower, caring for our pet, on-line shopping, and expressions of intimacy and sexual desire), linked to the wider social organization of power locally and globally? How have social justice activists challenged systems of inequality at different sites and in different eras? Courses in the Power and Inequality stream cover a broad range of interrelated systems of power: colonialism, hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy, global/capitalism, religion, and anthropocentrism.

Human Rights and Social Justice Stream

Who decides what counts as a human right and its violation? What promise and limitations do human rights hold for protecting people who are systemically marginalized and/or experience violence? Courses in this stream examine the gendered, raced, economic and geopolitical dimensions to human rights violations. We also examine human rights advocacy in specific local and global contexts and practices: war, peace, prisons, schools, museums, workplaces, sex work, development, trafficking, torture, and everyday violence.

For additional GESJ resources and events, please see Dr. Wendy Peters' website.

​There are ample opportunities to get involved in and outside of the classroom. You can participate in conferences, workshops, film festivals, and other political and social events throughout the year. Each year, students plan and launch political educational campaigns, attend lectures, panel discussions, and help celebrate key events on campus, like International Women’s Week (IWW).

Gender Equality and Social Justice Student Writing Guide

The standard style and reference guide that students should use while writing their essays.


Nipissing's campus is located on a stunning 291 hectares of Canadian Shield forest. With our focus on student-centred living and learning, you will feel a sense of community the moment you step on campus.

The Harris Learning Library

The Harris Learning Library was completed in 2011 and provides 56,000 square feet of study space with natural light and a modern award-winning design. The new library features expanded print collections, a learning commons, an adaptive technology area, and collaborative work spaces.

Academic Support Services

Our goal is to support your academic and personal development. Look for assistance with accessibility services, learning style assessments, writing skills, writing formats, study strategies, time management, note-taking skills, academic resources, group seminars, peer support, career development activities, and more. Learn More...

Financial Support Services

Achieve your goals on time and on budget. We’ll help you fund your education through scholarships, awards, bursaries, government assistance, and work study programs. Learn More...

Scholarships, awards, and bursaries for students in the Gender Equality and Social Justice program

Internationalize your Degree

If you want to experience a year or a semester at one of our partner schools across the globe, we have support services and programs to help you get there. If you want to assist International students with adjusting to life in Canada, we’ll connect you. Check out your options...

Personal Counselling Services

Our registered counsellors offer free, year-round personal counselling services, specialized therapeutic groups, referral services and a host of wellness, educational and awareness events to all full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students. Learn More...


Our top-rated residences will make you feel right at home. You will make fast friends with your residence community. Our student leaders, Residence Dons, and award winning residence staff give tutorials on everything from the basics of laundry and cooking to making connections within the community. Learn More...

International Women’s Week

Every year the Department of Gender Equality and Social Justice organizes a series of events to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. We’ve actually found that we need more than a day to celebrate, so we call it International Women’s Week (IWW). Past themes include “Justice Across Boundaries,” “Fifty Shades of No: Cultures of Sexual Violence,” “Decolonization,” “Re-teaching Gender and Sexuality,” “Food Security,” and “Gendered and Sexual Labour Mobility.” Past keynote speakers have included Monia Mazigh, Elizabeth May, Sherene Razack, Martin Cannon, and Megan Rivers-Moore.

We encourage all students to attend IWW events (sometimes we even cancel classes so you can attend). In addition to the keynote address, IWW events in the past include workshops, vigils, making t-shirts or zines, coffee collectives, and even road trips! Come out and join the fun!

International Women’s Week​

View IWW 2018 Keynote: Senator Kim Pate - Why Women are the Fastest Growing Prison Population and why we Should Care

GESJ Student Collective

Gender Equality and Social Justice student collective logo

The Gender Equality and Social Justice Student Collective is a group of GESJ majors and minors committed to promoting social justice at Nipissing University and in the North Bay community. We are a social, political, and educational group that holds biweekly meetings and hosts several events throughout the year. These events are often aimed at raising awareness or building relationships with other like-minded students and members of the North Bay community. Our group tries to have fun while improving our community, and together we are building lifelong friendships and relationships to aid us once we graduate from Nipissing. We are always welcoming to new members and hope to see you at a meeting or event soon! 

Visit GESJ Student Collective on Facebook Follow GESJ Student Collective on Twitter ​Email GESJ Student Collective​

The Equity Centre

The Equity Centre is a safer space on campus where students can hang out, learn, or help organize events and campaigns that raise awareness of equity issues which impact the diverse communities at Nipissing University. We work to provide education and resources, advocate on behalf of students, and promote allyship on campus. The Equity Centre and our events are open to everyone. However, we prioritize initiatives and spaces by and for students from marginalized communities, such as: Indigenous students, students of colour, LGBTQIA2S+ students, students with disabilities, and students from ethnic, religious and/or cultural minority groups. Allies are welcome to hang out, learn more, and attend our events, unless stated otherwise. The Equity Centre currently collaborates with two equity sub-groups on campus: QT Pride, a group for LGBTQIA2S+ students and their allies; and Students of Colour United, a group for Indigenous students, students of colour and their allies. We strive to provide opportunities for students to gather socially and make friends in a safe and accessible way; we always welcome feedback on how we can improve our efforts.

Our team of six executives hold open office hours every business day in A-244A and are available if you have questions, concerns, and suggestions/ideas about an event, campaign, or initiative you’d like to see happen on campus.

Come visit us during our office hours in A-244A, or check our social media for details on upcoming events!

Visit The Equity Centre on Facebook Follow The Equity Centre on Twitter Follow The Equity Centre on Instagram Email The Equity Centre

“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” Confucius

Experiential learning is an effective medium that enhances and reinforces classroom learning. In addition, skills and competencies in the areas of communication, teamwork, analysis, work ethic, and problem solving are all learning outcomes that assist with finding the right career path for you.

Third and fourth year Arts and Science Students will be interested in our 3 credit course, UNIV 3006 Experiential Learning for Arts and Science Students. Within this course, academic assignments and at least 60 hours of placement in the community within a field that is related to your course of study is offered.

Experiential Learning Program for Arts & Science Students (ELAS) 

The Experiential Learning for Arts & Science Program (ELAS) is an exclusive project between Student Development & Services, the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce (NBDCC) and the Faculty of Arts & Science. This project focuses on providing students with hands-on learning experiences directly related to their academic interests. 

With a strong emphasis on learning competencies, the ELAS immerses students with enriched learning opportunities that focus on the development of professional skills resulting in confident, successful and highly employable graduates ready for the workforce. 

The ELAS program provides support for Arts & Science students to participate in activities such as: 

  • Conferences and speakers 
  • Site visits and field trips 
  • Work placements 

When it comes to experiential learning at Nipissing University, you have lots of choices. Let us help you navigate your options, so you can find the best fit for your personal and professional goals, as well as your schedule.  

Visit for more information.

Leadership and Community Engagement

If you are eager to get involved beyond the classroom, take part in the annual Undergraduate Research Conference, which gives you the opportunity to present your work to peers, professors, and family members. You may also have opportunity to work as a Research Assistant to help a professor conduct research and gain valuable experience at the same time.

Record of Student Development

Your experience at Nipissing University is more than just the time spent learning great things in lectures, labs, and seminars. It’s also about the activities you are involved in outside of the classroom, the causes you champion to make change on campus, the clubs you organize, the awards you receive, the workshops you participate in, the volunteering you do, and all the learning that occurs outside of the classroom. 

The Record of Student Development (RSD) is Nipissing University's way of recognizing that learning is happening everywhere on campus. It is a formal record, otherwise known as a co-curricular transcript, where you can include workshops, volunteer experiences, awards, activities, and on campus employment experiences that you participate in throughout your degree. 

Each RSD Approved activity in our database is linked to competency areas employers are looking for such as:    

  • Critical Thinking 
  • Leadership  
  • Digital Literacy  
  • Equity and Diversity 
  • Emotional and Interpersonal Intelligence 
  • & more!  

To see the full list of competencies and get started building your Record of Student Development go to:

Nipissing University Student Union (NUSU)

Students attending Nipissing University in North Bay and long distance students are members of the Nipissing University Student Union. Our organization strives to represent students democratically, provide a communication framework, and lobby for legislative change on issues that affect students.


Exercise and healthy competition always help to clear the mind.


Nipissing’s Athletics Department offers a wide range of intramural activities to keep you on your game


Club sports are available to all Nipissing students and are both recreational and competitive.


Go Lakers! Our varsity athletes always bring their “A” game. Get your friends together and come out to cheer on your favourite teams.


Whether you are a gym enthusiast or a weekend warrior, Nipissing has just what you need.


Full-time Faculty

Part-time Faculty

In the five years since graduating from the Gender Equality & Social Justice program (BA with Honours, double major with English Studies), I've hit several other professional and academic milestones, thanks in no small part to the skills and tools I picked up in this department. The critical thinking and communication abilities I honed within the GESJ department have earned me internships, writing and editing contracts, and admission into excellent schools. In particular, I found that the GESJ Honours Seminar was just the right mix of self-directed and faculty-supported learning so as to prepare me for further higher education.

After graduating in 2012, I worked for two years before going on to my Master's degree in Gender Studies, during which time my research focused on critical discourse analysis of federal policy development on missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. The rigour and high standards set by GESJ faculty left me well situated to complete this degree in two years, all while holding several Research and Graduate Assistantship positions and earning a Fellow of the School of Graduate Studies Award..

Currently, I am employed by the Native Women's Association of Canada as a Policy and Research Analyst in Justice and Human Rights. This puts me in the unique position of doing work that is often precisely in line with my studies and passions. For this, I am extremely grateful to my professors and mentors within the GESJ department.

Kim Wakeford, BA '11

After graduating from the GESJ program in 2007 I looked for a future working with marginalized communities. I worked for an AIDS service organization for a number of years, as an office administrator and volunteer coordinator. This work was rewarding and allowed me to further develop and use the skills and knowledge I gained from the GESJ program. In 2011 I returned to Nipissing University and earned my BSc Nursing through the Scholar Practitioner Program, a 2-year second degree nursing program.

Currently, I am working as a registered nurse with the University Health Network in Toronto. My focus is in the Inpatient Mental Health and Inpatient Eating Disorders programs. I am also completing a Collaborative Academic Practice Fellowship through UHN that will allow me to create practice change towards better patient experiences. My experiences in the GESJ program have helped frame my nursing practice, and helped influence how I provide care to my patients.

Caitlin Don, BA '07, BScN '13

In 2013, Dawn completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Gender Equality and Social Justice. She currently works at the North Bay Indian Friendship Centre as a research associate for the two-year project Urban Aboriginal Communities Thrive, which is a community-driven capacity building initiative in North Bay. Dawn is also a superintendent of a building owned by the local Children's Aid Society where she mentors and supports youth transitioning from foster care to independence. In her spare time, she is currently learning about the four medicines and the healing Jingle dress, adding jingles daily to her dress to dance in powwows in the coming year. Excerpts of Dawn’s Honours thesis -- “The Intergenerational Effects of Indian Residential Schools on Foster Care Today: A Personal Narrative” -- are now available in the online journal Society for Building a Healthy Kugluktuk.

Dawn Lamothe, BA '13

I majored in Gender Equality and Social Justice with a minor in Sociology. The Gender Equality and Social Justice program was the ideal fit for me, and right from the first class I finally felt like I really belonged – It was in GESJ where I experienced my click moment. The GESJ program literally transformed my entire life and majoring in it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I would most strongly recommend this program to anyone who believes a better world is still possible. On a personal note I have been HIV positive for probably going on twenty years. To say the least, I have experienced a share of pain and heartache in my life. The GESJ program taught me to see hope even when things seem bleakest. The professors and students were incredibly supportive of my situation, and I have made some lifelong friendships as a result. The GESJ program has made it possible for me to work as a peer research associate for the Ontario HIV Treatment Network. My work for the OHTN mainly entails research and field interviews. I have done public speaking, consultations and facilitation for a number of HIV/AIDS organizations, allied organizations as well as government agencies about my personal journey. Additionally, I have served on working groups from the Public Health Agency of Canada to the Canadian Treatment Access Coalition regarding HIV and the incarcerated. I was a key working group member with the Canadian Treatment Action Council to produce a field manual to assist AIDS Service Organizations to better serve the needs of those incarcerated with HIV or at risk of contracting HIV while in prison. I have served over six years on the Board of Directors for the AIDS Committee of North Bay and Area in a number of capacities. I have also begun building a Community Based HIV/AIDS Organization serving Northern Ontario entitled Blue Sky HIV/AIDS Research & Consulting. You can check it out at If you are looking for more than just a degree, and perhaps a life changing experience that will encompass your entire being and forever enrich your life, then look no further than Gender Equality and Social Justice. Check out the GESJ program if you believe a better world is still possible and you want to be the change you want to see.

Scott de Blois, BA

Having graduated from the Gender Equality and Social Justice (GESJ) program at Nipissing University, I cannot emphasize enough the quality of the program and its ability to prepare its graduates for working in a community setting or further studies.

I graduated with a 4 year Honours Bachelor of Arts in 2006. Very shortly after graduating, I was hired as a researcher for the North Bay Newcomer Network to study the experience of immigrants in the North Bay area and conduct a subsequent needs analysis. Although this may not immediately seem relevant to my area of study, there are many parallels.

What is even more important is that my educational background gave me the theoretical framework in which to think about the issue of immigration from not only a gender standpoint, but also a social justice perspective. Being able to situate my research within this framework enabled me to push the limited scope of the initial research proposal to one that called into context the multifaceted and complex nature of immigration and the immigrant experience.

The value of pushing those boundaries were, and continue to be significant. From influencing municipal planning strategies to think beyond economics to creating socially conscious committees on the topic of immigration, my studies at Nipissing in the GESJ program prepared me to think critically and act with awareness.

I am currently working as the Program Coordinator for the North Bay & District Multicultural Centre, which is an immigrant settlement agency in North Bay. Without the theoretical and historical perspectives taught in the GESJ program, I would not have been prepared to create programs and work with clients in a way that values and takes into account their varied experiences and the forces that condition their lives. This, in itself, is so crucial in community work and is an element that is lacking in many other programs.

The GESJ program gives its students the ability to analyze and understand the world in a different way, “out of the box” thinking that is necessary for all those who wish to make a difference in the lives of others. You will learn to question, to critique, to probe issues; you will learn to think.

Ann Welsh, BA '06

I chose Nipissing University because of the amazing community feel that was obvious when I walked onto campus for the very first time. Now a graduate of the Gender Equality and Social Justice program, I can say, without hesitation, that this community is hard to compete with.

I originally started in the Criminal Justice program but my passion for human rights and law reform drew me to the GESJ program in my second year of studies. The courses were interesting and kept me thinking outside of “the box.” I have learned so much from the faculty’s varying backgrounds in topics such as queer media studies, religious studies, critical race theory, and transitional justice. I never used to call myself a “feminist” because frankly, I didn’t even know what being a feminist meant. I envisioned a woman burning her bra in the street and that wasn’t something I understood. Now, having critically evaluated the social, political, and economic climate locally, nationally, and globally, I can see very well why calling oneself a feminist and an activist is something to be extremely proud of. Advocating for the rights of marginalized populations is something we should have a collective responsibility to. This program has not only changed the way I see the world. It has also changed the way I see myself. There is nothing more empowering than knowing the social structures that fabricate our reality. This gives us the power to question reality and question what is “normal.”

My experiences outside of the classroom helped make my university experience especially memorable. I worked as a Residence Don for two years. I also spent one semester at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa through the study abroad program. In my final year at Nipissing University, I balanced writing my honours thesis on sexual consent, working as a residence don and sexual violence prevention and education outreach student, and applying for full time jobs. Less than two months after my graduation ceremony I started a position at the AIDS Committee of North Bay & Area. I am currently working there as a Women & HIV/AIDS Community Development Coordinator. I am excited to continue to learn in this organization. In the next couple of years I hope to pursue Graduate Studies in Social Justice, International Relations, or Law.

Mary White, BA

GESJ is a broad, interdisciplinary program. Because of that, your career options are very broad. You may choose to pursue a career as a researcher, administrator, lawyer, clinical counsellor, or policy analyst, among other options.

You may decide to continue on to graduate studies in areas like Theory and Criticism and Social and Political Thought. Or continue on to professional schools like law and teaching.

Whether you’re interested in creating reform, becoming an activist, or making a local or global impact, the Gender Equality and Social Justice department at Nipissing will give you the tools you need to help create positive change in the world.

Career and Academic Options

  • Graduate Studies
  • Professional School (Education, Law, MBA, Social Work)
  • Careers in non-profit and community-based organizations, media communications, government, international organizations, health and welfare, research, and advocacy

Lettie completed a double major in Gender Equality and Social Justice and Philosophy. She went on to complete an M.A. in International Affairs at Carleton University where she researched the impact of globalization on sustainable development and gender equality, particularly in her home country, Ghana. She is presently part of the Policy Team of the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres where she works as the Trades and Apprenticeship Policy Analyst.

Letlotlo (Lettie) Gariba, BA, MA