Subcommittee Members

Western Rep – Nicole Malette (Subcommittee Chair)

Central Rep – Valérie Grand’maison

Eastern Rep – Finbar Hefferon

Cross-appointed Black Caucus Rep – Taib K. Boyce

Cross-appointed Decolonization Subcommittee Rep – Carieta Thomas

Cross-appointed Equity Subcommittee Rep – Ayesha Mian Akram

Communications Volunteer – Connie Phung

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Chair and Member Representing Western Canada

Nicole Malette, University of British Columbia

BA and MA (McMaster University), PhD (University of British Columbia)

I am proud to be the Chair of the Canadian Sociological Association’s (CSA) Student Concerns Subcommittee (SCS). My role on this committee is supported by two years as the Western Representative for the CSA SCS, as well as previous experience serving on a number of in-house student committees at UBC, including being the Vice President of Finance, PhD Student Faculty Representative and Hiring Committee Student Representative. I have also been a member of the Canadian Sociological Association since 2013, was the recipient of the Canadian Sociological Association Graduate Student Research Award in 2015 and am a member of the Sociology of Education research cluster. At UBC I chaired the Sociology Undergraduate Mentoring Program for four years and worked with the UBC Sustainability Scholars program to identify areas of needed support around TA wellness at UBC. My previous academic experiences have lent themselves to my current work for the CSA-SCS. As a member of this committee I have helped facilitate online professional development webinars, served as a student representative for the CSA Mentor Program for Black, Indigenous, and Racialized Graduate students and co-authored the CSA SCS Newsletter. I hope to continue to support student needs to the best of my ability.

Member Representing Eastern Canada

Finbar Hefferon, Memorial University

BA (McGill University), MSc (University College Dublin), PhD Student (Memorial University)

I am pleased to represent Atlantic Canada as the Eastern Representative on the CSA Student Concerns Subcommittee. In this position, I will continue to advocate for the interests of my fellow students in a variety of areas – particularly related to identifying their needs in academic and professional development, and in addressing chronic funding challenges. As a member of the Subcommittee, I will build upon existing efforts in the CSA to create supportive student-focused programming while also promoting stronger links for collaboration and mentoring between faculty and student members. I look forward to seeking out innovative ways to apply my social and environmental justice research interests and my professional experiences working internationally for the UN and OSCE, to improve conditions and opportunities for students conducting research internationally.

For this role, I look forward to drawing on my experiences at the University of Toronto, MUN, the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development and the Future Ocean and Coastal Infrastructures project, organizing various public engagement, networking and skill-building initiatives for students, faculty and the general public. Within my department, I have assumed the role of Faculty Liaison in 2020 within the Memorial Sociology Graduate Student Society, advocating for student interests and facilitating communication between students and faculty members. On campus more broadly over the past year, I have dedicated my time to organizing mentorship and public awareness initiatives with the MUN Mentors international student program and Cinema Politica St. John’s. I believe that my broad previous experiences working across academic and administrative spheres at multiple universities have prepared me with a holistic understanding of the needs of students on campus. This includes recognizing the unique challenges faced by international students and how to effectively support all students with additional learning options within their academic journeys.

Member Representing Central Canada

Valérie Grand’maison, University of Guelph

Pronouns: she/her

BA (McGill University), M.Sc. (Maastricht University, Netherlands), PhD Candidate (University of Guelph)

I presented my application to act on the Student Concerns Subcommittee because I care deeply about equity, and social justice for students. For me, this means prioritizing the voice and experiences of diverse students to promote our well-being, academic progress, and community. In this role, I will practice intersectionality to pay attention to, and challenge the omissions that exclude and silence students marginalized by historical structures, including Black and Indigenous students, students of colour, students living in poverty, and students with disabilities. I have been elected as graduate student representative for 2 years in a row, and act as General Director of the Graduate Student Association. In these roles, I worked in collaboration with other graduate students and Faculty to create more opportunities for peer support and community building in our department and the University campus.

During the pandemic, I have shown leadership and commitment in promoting the needs of graduate students at the University of Guelph, especially those in marginalized positions. Specifically, I helped organize a University-wide petition that asked for collaboration with the upper administration to ensure support for graduate support during the pandemic. As a student with disabilities and studying the intersection of disability, gender, and violence, accessibility and care are core values that I aim to ensure for all students involved in the CSA.

Cross-appointed Black Caucus Representative

Taib K. Boyce, Carleton University

Pronouns: he/him

I am an Ottawa-based consultant, facilitator, speaker, anti-racism educator and student. As an ardent advocate for human rights, I have worked with a variety of local, and international organizations and collectives to advance the rights of black and LGBT+ minorities and other oppressed peoples.

My introduction to equity work started with coordinating HIV research and prevention programs targeting black communities. I learned a lot over the years listening to the concerns of black folks who are navigating healthcare systems that were not designed with them in mind. I apply this knowledge to my consulting firm, TKB Consulting, where I provide consulting, and training for a wide variety of organizations in the public and private sectors that are looking to improve their equity capacities.

I draw upon both lived experience and my educational background – receiving a BA in Political Science, and Masters Diploma in Public Policy and Evaluation from Carleton University. I am also currently in my last year of a BA degree in Sociology at Carleton University, which I started in the pandemic to stay active and open new career opportunities.

Cross-appointed Decolonization Subcommittee Representative

Carieta Thomas, University of Calgary

BA (Agnes Scott College), MA (Syracuse University), JD (New England Law I Boston), PhD. Candidate (University of Calgary)

I am excited to serve on the Student Concerns and Decolonization Subcommittee. I have gained extensive experience working with disadvantaged groups and coordinating projects through my work with non-profit organizations such as The Carter Center Conflict Resolution Program, International Rescue Committee, and Greater Boston Legal Services while in the U.S. I have also gained expertise in the areas of intersectionality of race, class, gender, and sexuality as well as critical race theory, urban sociology, and policy through my MA in Pan African Studies. In law school I honed skills of negotiation and conflict resolution. I later harnessed those skills in my role as Acting Head of the Law Department at University of the Commonwealth Caribbean, where I implemented a Law Department Academic Advising program, developed workshops for improving student learning, and negotiated a fee reduction for returning students. In my department at the University of Calgary I have served as an advocate and liaison between graduate students and the Department as the Graduate Studies Committee Representative of the Sociology Graduate Student Caucus. I am currently serving as the international student representative. I welcome the opportunity to bring my past experiences to bear in this role and work with others in creating a more equitable CSA for students.

Cross-appointed Equity Subcommittee Representative

Ayesha Mian Akram, University of Windsor

Pronouns: she/her

BEd in Elementary Education (University of Alberta), MEd in Educational Policy Studies (University of Alberta), PhD Candidate (University of Windsor)

In my academic and community work, I am committed to feminist anti-racist praxis. As a feminist public sociologist and community-based researcher and educator, it is imperative to me that our structures and institutions strive to model the principles and practices of equity we read about in social theory. In my doctoral journey thus far, I have been a research associate on three community-university research projects investigating issues of access to justice, access to culturally-sensitive service provision, and access to workplace rights for precarious populations. My own participatory doctoral project aspires to build a coalition of women activists to challenge anti-Muslim racism. As a feminist conference co-chair, graduate student board member for a humanities research group, co-founder of a feminist solidarity community-campus group, external consultant for an equity, diversity, and human rights unit, and active student member of UWindsor RAACES (Researchers, Academics, and Advocates of Colour for Equity in Solidarity), the theme of my academic and community endeavours has been and remains challenging the marginalization of equity-seeking communities.

I would like to see more spaces for Black, Indigenous and Racialized students in CSA so that we can feel a sense of belonging and ownership within CSA. This involves the continued expansion of the mentorship program for Black, Indigenous and Racialized students. I also look forward to collaborating to create more opportunities for students from a variety of backgrounds to discuss their research on equity and network outside of the CSA conference through, for example, virtual, cross-institutional Brown Bag sessions, workshops, and reading groups. I commend and respect the work of past CSA executives to centre equity-seeking communities, and I am humbled by an opportunity to contribute to this important work by liaising between the Student Concerns Subcommittee and the Equity Subcommittee.

Communication Volunteer

Connie Phung, Concordia University

Connie Phung is a researcher from Toronto who is pursuing a PhD in sociology at Concordia University in Montreal. Previous to working as a researcher in the education sector, she completed a Masters in sociology at York University with a focus on the circulation of sociological concepts and intellectual reputation. She’s one of the few who likes winter.


Past Subcommittee Chairs

  • Awish Aslam (Central Student Rep, Western University) 2019-2021
  • Jennifer Adkins (Western Student Rep, University of British Columbia) 2018 – 2019
  • Timothy Kang (Central Student Rep, University of Toronto) 2017 – 2018
  • Rebeccah Nelems (Western Student Rep, University of Victoria) 2016 – 2017
  • Louise Birdsell-Bauer (Central Student Rep, University of Toronto) 2015 – 2016
  • Katie MacDonald (Western Student Rep, University of Alberta) 2013 – 2015
  • Jamie Baker (Eastern Student Rep, Memorial University) 2010 – 2013
  • Stella Park (Central Student Rep, University of Toronto) 2007 – 2010
  • Kelly Greenfield (Eastern Student Rep, Memorial University)