Keynote Speakers

We are excited to have Heather Campbell and Dan Sich as our Keynote Speakers!

Heather Campbell is an uninvited settler of Scottish and Irish descent who lives and works on Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnapéewak and Chonnonton lands. As Curriculum Librarian for Western University, she supports the university’s strategic curricular initiatives as both a member of Western Libraries and the Centre for Teaching and Learning. Heather’s scholarship looks at teacher identity, feminist pedagogy, curriculum decolonization, and epistemic justice. 

Dan Sich (he/him/his) is an settler of Slovak and Mennonite descent. As E-Learning Librarian in Western Libraries, he facilitates the creation and maintenance of accessible digital learning objects in support of teaching the Libraries’ curriculum. He has published or presented on the topics of chat reference, tabletop roleplaying games, social media, instructional videos and curriculum decolonization as they pertain to libraries. 

Many white settler-academics say they are hesitant to begin decolonization work because they are afraid of getting it wrong or do not have sufficient lived experience to lead it (Bates & Ng, 2021; Stein 2020). Such inaction places incredible burden on Black and Indigenous academics who are repeatedly asked to ‘educate’ white colleagues and, therefore, expose themselves to critique, racism, and violence in the process (Brunette-Debassige, 2024; Bhopal 2022). As a white-dominated profession, libraries have a specific responsibility to move past any hesitations and start our decolonizing work. Our collection, teaching, and preservation traditions privilege European knowledges and “suppress and eliminate the creation of rival, alternative knowledges” (Patin, Sebastian, et al. 2021a, 1310).  

Building on their recent article about decolonizing library instruction (Campbell & Sich, 2023), this keynote will walk participants through the early stages of a cyclical decolonization approach. Together, we will explore libraries’ relationship with aspects of white supremacy culture (Okun, 2022) and discuss why our work must be driven by and grounded in epistemic justice. Participants will also leave with a settler decolonization guide to help them identify where they can contribute to the shared work of decolonization. Based on the work of the Gesturing Toward Decolonial Futures collective (Stein et al., 2021), University of Capetown (Curriculum Change Working Group, 2018), and Poka Laenui (2000), the guide is designed to enable settler academics and librarians to initiate their decolonization work without increasing demands on campus diversity experts. Given the library’s central role in research, teaching, and knowledge production, we must begin this work if faculty are to be able to decolonize their own disciplines (Leung, 2022).