Historical and ongoing social exclusion in New Brunswick cities was the topic of a panel held on May 5 just before the municipal elections. The panel, “Social Justice and the City in New Brunswick,” featured Rachel Bryant, Julia Woodhall-Melnik, and Valerya Edelman on how we can imagine a better city that includes everyone. The talks are now available for viewing here.
Rachel Bryant on “Toward the Sharing of Saint John: Reckoning with the City Charter”
Rachel Bryant is a writer, researcher and educator in Menahkwesk/Saint John. Bryant spoke about how British settlers consolidated their interests in land ownership from the Charter of the city of Saint John as early as 1785 to the exclusion of Indigenous people with whom they promised to share. Bryant’s first book, The Homing Place, was short-listed for the Atlantic Book Award for Scholarly Writing and awarded the New Brunswick Book Award for Non-Fiction.
Julia Woodhall-Melnik on “The Unprotected & Ignored Renter: Movement toward rental policy reform, poverty reduction, and vibrant communities in Saint John”
Julia Woodhall-Melnik is Assistant Professor at UNB Saint John, the lead investigator on a 5-year Institutes of Health Research project grant that explores affordable housing and mental health, and Research Director of the Housing, Mobilization, Engagement and Resilience Lab (HOME-RL). She spoke about the gentrification of the central peninsula in Saint John, and the effect of the city’s overheating housing market on lower-income residents. Who is included and who is excluded in the future of Saint John?
Valerya Edelman on “Dear City, Stop Hurting Us”
Valerya Edelman is a social worker and community activist who helped develop Clinic 554 and the peer worker programs at River Stone Recovery Centre in Fredericton. Her MA thesis from University of Victoria is “There Goes the Neighbourhood: A Case Study of Social Mix in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.” She spoke on New Brunswick’s urban addictions problem, and how public policies continue to demonize, infantilize and exclude people who might otherwise find a place in the city.
The panel was organized by Tertulias Fredericton, the Canada Research Chair in Global and International Studies, and the NB Media Co-op.
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