“We Demand”: History/Sex/Activism In Canada

Vancouver, BC

August 26, 2011 – August 28, 2011

The organizers of the We Demand: History/Sex/Activism conference are pleased to make available video recordings of keynote and plenary sessions where permission to record was provided from the speaker(s).  Please tweet, facebook and  share with other social networks the link. Click here for video menu.

Many thanks to the videography team at Simon Fraser University for producing such high-quality recordings, and to all of our funders for making the recordings of these sessions possible.

Thanks to all the delegates and participants for their contributions, enthusiasm and for making the conference a major success!.  We urge presenters to submit their presentations for uploading to the conference web site.   To do so, please send a PDF copy of the file to wedemand2011@gmail.com

"We Demand": History/Sex/Activism in Canada / « Nous demandons »: Histoire/Sexe/Activisme au Canada is the first conference in Canada since 1993 devoted to the history of sexuality. Organized by the Canadian Committee on the History of Sexuality/ Comité canadien d’histoire de la sexualité, the conference will be held at the Coast Plaza Hotel in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, August 26-28th, 2011. The aim of the conference is to facilitate, promote, and expand the study of sexuality and activism in Canada from a historical perspective. Designed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first national gay liberation action in Ottawa and Vancouver, "We Demand" will interrogate connections between history, sexuality, theory, activism, and the archives. As such, the conference will engage an estimated 140 participants in a three-day exploration of a broad range of issues and a variety of methodological and disciplinary approaches particular to the study of sexuality.


The “We Demand” conference features some of the most important critical thinkers and activists in the field today. Among them are keynote speakers Ann Cvetkovich, an internationally renowned cultural theorist, and Jessica Yee, Executive Director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. Ann Cvetkovich is the author of An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Duke, 2003), which includes an oral history project with ACT UP/NY’s lesbians. Her work is at the leading edge of queer theory and engages with methodological and interpretive issues of relevance to a wide range of scholars. Jessica Yee is a sexual rights activist who currently serves as the first Chair of the National Aboriginal Youth Council at the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network and is also Chair of the International Indigenous HIV/AIDS Working Group.

Vancouver Courthouse, August 28, 1971.


The conference includes two plenary sessions that anchor the conference themes. “History as Activism” explores the role assumed by the history of sexuality in progressive sexual political struggles in North America and features five founders of the history of sexuality in Canada: Mary-Louise Adams, Line Chamberland, Karen Dubinsky, Steven Maynard and Becki Ross. “Activism as History” offers historical reflections on the history of activism relating to sexuality and features leading activists in the area of sexual rights politics: activist/academic Gary Kinsman, bookstore manager and anti-censorship activist Janine Fuller, lawyer barbara findlay, BC queer community archivist Ron Dutton, and long-time lesbian activist Amy Gottlieb. Peter Dickinson, a leading expert on queer culture and guest curator of the Pacific Cinémathèque film program and Tom Waugh, a scholar and prolific writer on queer film, especially in Canada, will also participate as presenters. A preliminary program and abstracts for each presentation are available through the links at the bottom and the right hand side of this page.

For almost half a century Canada has enjoyed an international reputation as a leader in progressive sexual politics. Canadian debates concerning birth control and abortion, obscenity laws, same-sex marriage, recognition of transgender health rights, human rights legislation, and queers and immigration policies resulted in significant legal and policy changes, and these actions have reverberated around the globe. This conference is an opportunity to assess the impact of these developments on the social, cultural, political, and historical landscape in Canada and beyond.

The simultaneous rise of Canadian queer culture is also a focal point for this conference. A four day parallel film program hosted by Pacific Cinémathèque uses film screenings and panel discussions to explore the role of Canadian cinema in post-1960s sexual politics. It is open to the public, thus providing an opportunity to connect scholars from across the nation and residents of the broader Lower Mainland community.


alternate textSteps of Parliament, Ottawa, August 28, 1971.  Photo credit: Jearld Moldenhauer.


We are pleased to have Xtra! as one of our sponsors.
For a full list of sponsors, click on "organizers and partners."



We Demand conference videos now available.

Video recordings of keynote and plenary sessions are now available through the We Demand conference web site.   
Posted: 2012-07-20 More...

We (Still) Demand

We share the following announcement on behalf of Queer Ontario.  
Posted: 2011-08-03 More...

You can now follow us on facebook!


You can now follow us on facebook!



Posted: 2011-05-30

Author of 1971 We Demand Statement Passes Away

In Memoriam - Herb Spiers (November 8, 1945 - March 2, 2011)  
Posted: 2011-03-29 More...

Registration: Registration Information: We Demand: History/Sex/Activism

We are pleased to announce that registration for the We Demand: History/Sex/Activism in Canada conference is now open!  
Posted: 2011-03-28 More...
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Conference Information