The researchers behind the CRI: Dr. Mumtaz Cheema

Dr. Mumtaz Cheema

The renovation of the Centre of Research and Innovation (CRI) building in downtown Corner Brook has begun!

This centre is a collaborative effort between Grenfell Campus, Memorial University (GC-MUN), Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited (CBPPL) and the College of the North Atlantic (CNA).

With one of the major outputs of the project now close to fruition after years of discussions and planning, just imagine how much work and collaborative efforts this project has required!

Being one of the major partners of the project, Grenfell Campus has made contributions through its research associates, assistants, technicians, and others, who have put significant work into the planning and development of the CRI. Dr. Mumtaz Cheema is one of the lead researchers on this project who inspires and supervises many graduate students who continue to make this partnership a success.

Dr. Cheema believes that this partnership is extremely important to enhance the food security agenda in NL and that it will play a pivotal role in enhancing the economic growth of western Newfoundland through innovative research, capacity building, and entrepreneurship.

On the other hand, this partnership “helped us in reshaping our research program directions and collaborations with industry,” he said. Therefore, Grenfell Campus benefits from the project by considerably increasing its research and innovation capacity. He explained that the research projects conducted within the frame of CRI have also been vital and instrumental in enhancing Grenfell’s funding for an increasing number of graduate students. Several of Dr. Cheema’s students have analyzed soil and plant samples, carried out statistical analyses, and are now writing their theses for the boreal ecosystems and agricultural sciences M.Sc. program.

“This research partnership is very productive and will answer the research questions of our industrial partner,” said Dr. Cheema.

The Agricultural Clean Technology Program, along with the Mitacs Accelerate Program, and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, provided the necessary funding for the research initiatives of many of these graduate students. Dr. Cheema said the outcome of the Clean Tech research project will generate scientific information to use wood ash and sludge – waste products generated by CBPPL – to produce horticultural and agronomic crops. He said that wood ash and sludge will improve soil quality and health, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, crop growth, yield, and phytochemical profile of high-value crops.

Dr. Cheema with a group of graduate students at the Pynn’s Brook Research Station.

“Overall, the outcome of this project will help scientists and policymakers in developing mitigation and adaptation strategies to cope with the adversities of climate change,” he said, adding that growth media formulations using local natural resources will be used for raising nursery plants, kitchen gardening, greenhouse vegetable production, and liming material to generate revenue for the industry.

We invite you follow us on social media to learn more about the exciting projects taking place as part of the Centre for Research and Innovation.


The role of writing in social justice

What does it mean to write about identity and representation in the current moment? How do we meet the need for more equitable and diversified cultural representations and understand literature’s crucial role in social justice?

These questions will be discussed during a conversation with writers Kaie Kellough and Zalika Reid-Benta as part of the “Black History and Beyond Series,” co-hosted by Memorial’s Departments of Religious Studies and Gender Studies.

Dr. Stephanie McKenzie of Grenfell Campus’s English Department will moderate the event, which is titled Doing Representation Justice: Writing the Self and Beyond.

Kaie Kellough is a novelist, poet, and sound performer. His work emerges at a crossroads of social engagement and formal experiment. He lives in Montréal and has roots in Guyana, South America. His last book of poetry, Magnetic Equator (McClelland and Stewart, 2019) won the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize. His collection of short stories, Dominoes at the Crossroads (Véhicule, 2020), won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, was a finalist for the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal, and was longlisted for the Giller prize. His novel Accordéon (ARP, 2016) was a finalist for the 2017 Amazon/Walrus Foundation First Novel Award.

Zalika Reid-Benta is a Toronto-based writer. Her debut short story collection Frying Plantain won the 2019 Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the 2020 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in literary fiction. Frying Plantain was shortlisted for the 2020 Toronto Book Award and the 2020 Trillium Book Award, it was also longlisted for the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize and nominated for the 2020 Evergreen Award. Frying Plantain is currently nominated for the 2021 White Pine Award. Zalika is also the winner of the 2019 Byblacks People’s Choice Awards for Best Author.

This event is made possible by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Scholarship in the Arts fund.

Forestry researchers and practitioners share latest activities

Participants in a recent forestry knowledge-sharing event heard about everything from bio-economy and ecosystem mapping to silviculture and logging roads.

The free, online session, organized by the Canadian Forest Service and Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, brought together academics, government researchers, industry representatives and practitioners in the forest economy.

“Innovation and research are crucial to modernizing the forestry sector and responding to the pressing climate change and sustainable forest management challenges of today,” said Karishma Boroowa, director, Atlantic Forestry Centre. “For these reasons, knowledge sharing events such as these are important for collective learning and identifying opportunities to advance the development of our sector.” 

A presentation by Bill Dawson, Newfoundland and Labrador Forest Industry Association, and Stephen Decker, a professor with the School of Science and the Environment, focussed on the opportunities and challenges they’ve met with respect to forest-based bio-economy development on the island.

Forest-based Bio-economy Development in Newfoundland” is a research project led by NL Forest Industry Association and funded by the NL Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC).

In a forest-based context, bioeconomy involves the use of forest resources to create sustainable alternatives to fossil-fuel based products and services, while adding value to traditional forest-based products, supporting the identification of new products and markets, and consequently, support a more diverse and robust workforce.  

The project uses case studies of key forestry dependent communities in Newfoundland. One such case study region is focused on the sawmill in Bloomfield, NL: Sexton Lumber.

Researchers have been working with the owners of the sawmill, stakeholders, and possible partners to identify assets and resources associated with the enterprise, as well as potential opportunities, technologies and training for under-represented members of the workforce. 

Using waste streams to benefit agriculture and other sectors has emerged as a potential basis for new partnerships and projects, said Dr. Decker.

“A lot of the ideas we heard centred on what’s referred to as ‘waste heat’ from sawmilling processes. A number of stakeholders said it would great if we could capture this heat or even steam, and use it to support other co-located processes,” he said, adding that the heat discharged from the sawmill operations could be used to heat a nearby building or a greenhouse while other residues could be used in support of agricultural operations.

From a workforce perspective, some study participants suggested that skilled laborers already in place at local mills could share their expertise to support co-located ventures, such as food production facilities. Similarly, others have suggested that the forest industry’s local skilled workforce could even provide mentorship opportunities to encourage entry into the workforce by currently under-represented groups such as women, youth, and Indigenous peoples. 

Other presentations at the forestry event included:

  • “Mapping Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Forestry: Case Study Using Proxies and LiDAR Data” by Catherine Frizzle (Université de Sherbrooke/Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Ltd.). 
  •  “Silva21: A National Initiative to Adapt Silviculture to Global Change” by Vincent Roy (Canadian Forest Service) 
  • “Resource Roads – Supporting Research, Industry, and Recreation in NL” by Sean Greene (Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture) 

“We’re pleased to partner with CFS and to be a supporter of these kinds of opportunities – to provide places where researchers and practitioners can share ideas, learn from each other, and forge partnerships that will benefit the people of the province,” said Ken Carter, director, Research and Engagement at Grenfell Campus.

To learn more, check out the recording of the event on the Grenfell Campus’s Facebook page.

NL Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC)

The NL Workforce Innovation Centre (NLWIC), administered by the College of the North Atlantic (CNA), has a provincial mandate to provide a coordinated, central point of access to engage all labour market stakeholders about challenges, opportunities and best practices in workforce development. The Centre’s goal is to promote and support the research, testing and sharing of ideas and models of innovation in workforce development that will positively impact employability, employment, and entrepreneurship within the province’s labour force and particularly under-represented groups. Funding is provided by the Department of Immigration, Skills and Labour (ISL) under the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement.

Grenfell English professor builds recording capacity for Caribbean artists

For the last decade, Dr. Stephanie McKenzie has been building a veritable arsenal of digital recordings, performances, articles and publications focussed on Caribbean artists.

A total of 31 entries are available through the University of Florida’s Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLoc).

“I have been interested in Caribbean literature since 1997, when I was awarded the Louise Bennett Exchange Scholarship, during my PhD years at the University of Toronto,” she said, adding that the exchange allowed her to visit Kingston, Jamaica, to study for a term. “I really began creating archival materials and records, though, after my sabbatical in Guyana, where I lived in the capital city, Georgetown, for about six months in 2014.” 

Guyana is very poor, and, as such, books and records in the university library were not easily accessible during her time there–materials were in poor condition, with barriers to accessing or borrowing. Furthermore, years of racially divided governments have resulted in materials in the national archives being destroyed. She captured these circumstances in a review that was published in the Jamaica Observer, one of Jamaica’s two national papers. 

Because historical and cultural documents are necessary for peer-reviewed scholarship and publications, Dr. McKenzie began to collect and create material for further studies in Caribbean literature.  

“dLOC is very impressive in terms of its holdings and in terms of its promotion of Caribbean literature,” said Dr. McKenzie, adding its resources and standards allow the library to properly house materials. She noted the library at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, also has an extensive collection. 

The most recent recordings to be added to the collection are those of Pamela Mordecai and Tanya Shirley (biographies below). 

Poetry reading by Pamela Mordecai:

Poetry reading by Tanya Shirley:

The latest Mordecai recording uploaded in Dr. McKenzie’s dLoc compendium is a poetry reading from November 2020 (editor Ed Johnson; funded by Scholarship in the Arts). Dr. Mordecai is no stranger to Newfoundland and Labrador: In 2012, she gave a lecture at Grenfell Campus on the poetry of Dionne Brand. In 2015, Dr. Mordecai visited Corner Brook and read her work at the March Hare Literary Festival. That same year, and guided by a pilot project initiated by Dr. McKenzie, Dr. Mordecai video-recorded all her books of poetry up to that time at Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) in St John’s, Newfoundland. They are online at CITL.  

Tanya Shirley has also spent time in Corner Brook; in 2013 she performed at the Last April Rabbit and also gave a solo poetry reading at a local venue. The Shirley recording, also a poetry reading, was recorded in October 2020 (edited by Ed Johnson; funded by Scholarship in the Arts).  

Dr. Mordecai’s A Fierce Green Place: New and Selected Poems, edited by Carol Bailey and Stephanie McKenzie, is forthcoming from New Directions Publishing in 2022. 

Most recently, Dr. McKenzie’s interview with Prof. Tom Halford of Grenfell Campus’s English Program was published online with World Literature Today, which also references some of her Caribbean work. 

 For more information about the work of Dr. McKenzie, visit her website.

All readings were funded by Memorial University’s Scholarship in the Arts Fund. 


Dr. Pamela Mordecai

Dr. Pamela Mordecai has published six collections of poetry, five children’s books, and a short story collection, Pink Icing, released as an audiobook read by herself in ECW Press’s Bespeak Audio Editions. Her debut novel, Red Jacket was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Award. Mordecai’s writing has been featured on CBC and ABC (Australia) and translated into Spanish, French and Romanian. Her children’s poetry is part of the UK’s Poetry by Heart initiative, and is widely anthologized and used in language arts curricula in the US, UK, Africa, India, the Caribbean and the Far East. Her play for children, El Numero Uno, had its world premiere at the Young People’s Theatre in Toronto in 2010 and its Caribbean premiere at the Edna Manley School for the Performing Arts in 2016. She has published two crossover poetry collections, de Man: a performance poem, and de book of Mary: a performance poem. Her seventh book of poetry, A Fierce Green Place: New and Selected Poems edited by Stephanie McKenzie and Carol Bailey, is forthcoming from New Directions. With her husband, Martin, she wrote Culture and Customs of Jamaicain a series edited by Peter Standish. A trained language arts teacher with a PhD in English, she was for many years Publications Editor of the Caribbean Journal of Education. She has also worked in media, especially television. She lives in Toronto.

Tanya Shirley

Tanya Shirley has published two poetry collections with PeepalTree Press in the UK: She Who Sleeps With Bones and The Merchant of Feathers. Her work has been featured on BBC World Service, BBC Front Row, and translated into Spanish and Polish. She has conducted writing workshops and performed in the UK, Canada, the Caribbean, Venezuela and the U.S.A. She is the recipient of a Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica for her outstanding contribution in the field of Literature. She is a Lecturer in the Department of Literatures in English at UWI, Mona.

Grenfell, CNA and Natural Resources Canada collaborate on master’s degree in applied geomatics

The new master of science in applied geomatics is a true union of theory and application. 

The program is the brainchild of researchers and practitioners at Grenfell Campus, College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Corner Brook campus and Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Forest Service. The M.Sc. (Applied Geomatics) program was approved by Memorial University’s Board of Regents earlier this month. 

“We’re thrilled to build on our well-established connections with CNA’s Corner Brook campus and the Canadian Forest Service (CFS),” said Dr. Jeff Keshen, vice-president, Grenfell Campus. “This program builds on core strengths in geomatics training at CNA, and on a diverse set of researchers with research programs that are spatial in nature at Grenfell Campus and its provincial and federal partners.” 

He emphasized that the development of the program was the product of true collaboration, involving individuals from Grenfell, CNA, and CFS, who recognized a need and a local opportunity to train highly skilled GIS users to fulfill that need. Dr. Robert Scott of Grenfell’s School of Science and the Environment worked closely with Mr. Darin Brooks, GIS applications specialist (post-diploma) instructor at CNA, and Dr. Brian Eddy, a research scientist at CFS in Corner Brook, among other practitioners and researchers in the field and at other Canadian post-secondary institutions. 

The innovative degree combines the latest research in various academic fields with training in advanced geomatics information technology. Geomatics, or geoinformatics, generally refers to the use of geospatial and geostatistical technology to collect, organize, store, integrate, analyze, interpret, report, and disseminate geographic information. 

“The geomatics industry contributes substantially to Canada’s GDP (gross domestic product), with an approximate $20-billion contribution through design, implementation and use of geomatics products,” said Brent Howell, dean, School of Natural Resources and Industrial Trades. “The M.Sc. (applied geomatics) program is designed to attract stakeholder engagement across a variety of government and non-government stakeholders. CNA is delighted to have a role in this three-party collaboration, so that we can provide a solid foundation for graduates so they can continue their pursuit of a master’s degree.” 

Students who enroll in the master’s program will receive comprehensive contemporary instruction (theory and applied) in several sub-disciplines: geographic information systems (GIS), geospatial/geostatistical analysis, geovisualization, geodatabase design, remote sensing, programming, global positioning systems (GPS), project management, and others. 

“When today’s students enter the workforce they are increasingly required to work with specialists from diverse disciplines to address complex problems,” said Dr. Scott, adding that the notion of “mapping” is becoming an increasingly integral requirement in many subject areas within the natural sciences and social sciences, as well as the arts and humanities. “The program will offer students the opportunity to become geospatial specialists while applying their expertise to a research project, developing the high-level expertise across all geospatial techniques at the outset followed by the opportunity to apply expertise to a master’s thesis project.” 

The M.Sc. (applied geomatics) program will train students in a field that has a high employability rate – roughly 20,000 individuals are employed in geomatics-related jobs in Canada. 

“The Canadian Forest Service, situated in Grenfell’s Forest Centre, will provide a rich and rewarding opportunity for these M.Sc. students and NRCan scientists to interact on projects of mutual interest,” said Dr. Eddy. “The west coast of Newfoundland provides an ideal environment for research in ecology, natural resources, and community and regional development. This, combined with its smaller community setting and presence of a number of provincial and federal government agencies and other stakeholders in the region, provides a unique advantage with regard to offering this applied master-level program.”

Students wishing to enroll in the program must have completed an undergraduate degree, as well as the nine-month GIS applications specialist (post-diploma) program at CNA before they will be admitted into the M.Sc. (applied geomatics) program. 

Individuals wishing more information on the M.Sc. (applied geomatics) program should contact Dr. Scott at

To learn more about the GIS applications specialist program, visit:

For information about CFS, visit the Atlantic Forest Centre here.

Community-academic partnerships: Collective aims to make the GNP more sustainable

A newly formed collective spanning Corner Brook to the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula is aiming to make the area a healthier and more sustainable place to live. 

The Great Northern Peninsula (GNP) Research Collective, which aims to promote collaborative community research and development initiatives, has a particular focus in the areas of health and community sustainability. The initial aim is to establish the “GNP Community Place.” 

Joan Cranston, Coordinator for the Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital Heritage Corporation in Norris Point, and a strong advocate of the project, said there are specific characteristics that make the GNP Community Place project distinctive. 

“The project offers a social enterprise solution to an identified issue – that is, a lack of access to health and wellness supports in the region,” she said, adding that it uses an inter-disciplinary Collective Impact Approach as well as a “3-P” Partnership Model – Public/ Private/People. “Finally, the project will be evidence-based and supported by the involvement of the Great Northern Peninsula Research Collective, supporting the creation of local knowledge through research.” 

Recently a team from Grenfell Campus travelled up the Northern Peninsula to participate in meetings and site visits – a hybrid of socially distanced in-person, as well as online – to discuss some exciting possibilities.  

“Community members from Port au Choix, Port Saunders, St. Anthony and Bonne Bay area, as well as faculty, staff and students from Western Regional School of Nursing and Grenfell Campus, engaged in presentations and discussions pertaining to a variety of subject areas, ranging from the actual purpose of the collective and what “community place” means, to regional sustainability, social enterprise and food security,” said Jennifer Buxton, regional engagement and experiential learning co-ordinator. 

In Port au Choix the group toured GNP Community Place (see photo), which will become a community hub for health and wellness, and food security initiatives. In St. Anthony they visited the GNP Health & Wellness Centre, participated in an outdoor walking tour of the town. 

Renee Pilgrim, a registered acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner, is a seventh-generation resident of St. Anthony, and founder GNP Health & Wellness. She also advocates this community-led initiative.  

“We have to start at the root when it comes to health – how we eat and how we move our bodies are the foundation,” she said. “Growing our own food offers a two-for-one opportunity to do both. The knowledge of many generations continues to be relevant – their resourcefulness will continue to support the great potential on the GNP. Reminding people of their own abilities and strengths empowers us all to become a healthier population, relying less on external care.” 

Towards the end of the weekend expedition, community members, business owners, farmers and officials from of the Town of St. Anthony gathered with research collective representatives to talk about food security. One of the goals is to build upon the research conducted by Dr. Greg Wood and the late Dr. Jose Lam, who studied the history of the Grenfell Gardens, and create a community-led approach to food sovereignty, such as building more community gardens or a greenhouse, increased access to local produce, and education on growing and storing your own produce.  

“The goal is to build upon the legacy of the Grenfell Gardens through a community-led approach,” said Ms. Buxton. “Ultimately, if successful, it would see the establishment of a working group focused on increasing food sovereignty in the St. Anthony area, and opportunities for collaborative research projects on food security and agricultural production in the region.   

The GNP Research Collective continues to move forward on community-engaged research initiatives to support innovation, resilience and sustainability on the Great Northern Peninsula.  For more information on how you can get involved, contact Ms. Buxton at

Big science and big goals: CFI funding to help Grenfell physicists to hunt for Dark Matter

Subatomic Physics is often called “Big Science,” since it involves big teams united by ambitious goals working on mega projects. The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is based on the ideals of thinking big, and now support from CFI will enable physicists and students at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, to hunt for Dark Matter in our Universe.

The Canadian team received $2,336,900 of CFI funding for the MOLLER Detector: Expanding our understanding of matter in the universe with a new, precision electron detector. Dr. Aleksandrs Aleksejevs and Dr. Svetlana Barkanova of Grenfell, MUN, are the grant co-recipients and a part of the MOLLER project: a world-class, international effort involving collaborators from 36 institutions, from the USA and Canada (the lead and founding countries), as well as Germany, Italy, France and Mexico.

The Right Honourable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this, and other funding – to the tune of $518 million – on Wednesday. The funding aims to support the infrastructure needs of universities and research institutions across the country.

The MOLLER project will enable experiments that aim to measure the interaction properties between pairs of electrons down to separation distances of zeptometers, which is roughly a million times smaller than the size of the smallest atomic nucleus, to unprecedented accuracy. It is expected that completely new interactions may be found at such small distances, including those that couple to Dark Matter, and may explain some of the deepest unanswered questions in particle physics and cosmology.

The detector will be developed and build at the University of Manitoba, and the experiment will take place at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab), a premier electron beam accelerator laboratory located in Newport News, USA, funded by the US Department of Energy. The Canadian team is the largest group in the MOLLER collaboration.

In addition to the team leads at the University of Manitoba and Drs. Aleksejevs and Barkanova at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, the Canadian team includes colleagues from the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Winnipeg.

Several of its members have been among the world leaders in the development of the needed technologies over three generations of previous experiments and, consequently, are work package leaders for many of the most important components of the experiment. The MUN group, with decades of experience in precision calculations, will provide the indispensable theory input. 

“We are well-used to working remotely, collaborating with colleagues from all across the globe, so we are not particularly impacted by the pandemic,” said Dr. Barkanova. “That is one of the many skills our students acquire – to coordinate and communicate with large groups, and our students have worked on the major international projects before without leaving our campus.”

 She added that most of their portion of this new funding will go to supporting students, “so we are looking for new talent.”

Dr. Aleksejevs agreed, adding that physics is a great discipline offering many career opportunities.

 “Physics is providing a great foundation for many exciting careers in a knowledge-based economy,” said Dr. Aleksejevs. “This funding will help our students learn complex problem-solving, coding, critical thinking, collaboration, and many other transferable skills.”

Grenfell researcher seeks parents and guardians for study

The research of Dr. Kelly Warren aims to understand how parents would react if their child witnessed or experienced crimes.

A professor of psychology at Grenfell Campus Memorial University, Dr. Warren’s work will inform a larger series of studies assessing parent-child discussion of crime; results of these studies will be used to inform legal practitioners of the realities surrounding such conversations.

Dr. Warren, whose research interests intersect between psychology and law, is trying to learn more about these conversations.

“As part of a criminal investigation, children who witness or experience a crime are often asked to talk about any prior discussions they have had with a parent about that crime,” she explained. “The concern is that parents may knowingly or unknowingly suggest information to a child that can interfere with their memory. Yet, because such conversations between parents and children happen in the privacy of their homes, little is known about how these conversations occur. Perhaps, parents can even help children recall a crime.”

Dr. Warren is currently conducting a study that asks parents how they would react if their child witnessed or experienced crimes that vary in seriousness. 

“Parents and guardians who participate will take part in a 30-minute telephone or virtual interview with a research assistant,” she said, adding that participation is voluntary and any data collected will remain confidential. “They will be presented with fictitious crimes, and then asked to discuss how they would react, as well as if/how they would discuss this with their children.”

Participants who complete the study will receive a $10 gift card as a token of her appreciation. If you are a parent of a child between the ages of 5 and 10 and are interested in participating in this study, please contact Kelly at to learn more about it or to sign up. Interviews will be completed at a mutually convenient time.  

2021 Grenfell English Winter Lecture and Reading Series

The Grenfell Campus Department of English is pleased to announce the 2021 slate of lecturers for its lecture and reading series. 

Leading up to each author’s reading, panels of Grenfell faculty and students will discuss the works of these distinguished writers. A full schedule of Grenfell panels and lecturer’s talks follows below. 

The first featured author, on Feb. 3, will be Irene Oore, author of The Listener (2019). According to the synopsis, “in The Listener, a daughter receives a troubling gift: her mother’s stories of surviving World War II in Poland.  During the Holocaust, Irene Oore’s mother escaped the death camps by concealing her Jewish identity.  Instead, those years found her constantly on the run and on the verge of starvation, living a harrowing and peripatetic existence as she struggled to keep herself and her family alive. Throughout the book, Oore reveals a certain ambivalence towards the gift bestowed upon her. The stories of fear, love, and constant hunger traumatised her as a child. Now, she shares these same stories with her own children, to keep the history alive.”

On Feb. 17, the featured author will be Souvankham Thammavongsa, who won the 2020 Giller Prize for her book of short stories How to Pronounce Knife (2020). The book is described as “a revelatory book of fiction (that) establishes her as an essential new voice in Canadian and world literature. Told with compassion and wry humour, these stories honour characters struggling to find their bearings far from home, even as they do the necessary ‘grunt work of the world’.” 

On March 5, Maria Reva will be the final author to read, corresponding with the opening night of the Atlantic English Undergraduate Conference. She is the author of Good Citizens Need Not Fear (2020), which is described as taking the reader from “paranoia to tenderness and back again, exploring what it is to be an individual amid the roiling forces of history. Inspired by her family’s own experiences in Ukraine, Reva brings the dark absurdity of early Gary Shteyngart, the empathy of Miriam Toews, and the sly interconnectedness of Anthony Marra’s The Tsar of Love and Techno to a sparkling work of fiction that is as clever as it is heartfelt.”  

After each event there will be an informal online social to continue the relevant discussion or just hang out and have fun with other people who love literature and talking. Participants are invited to stick around to see friends or make new ones and share a toast with a virtual glass of wine or coffee. 

To receive connection information, visit  

Here is the full schedule of authors and Grenfell contributors: 

Feb. 1, 1-4 p.m. NST  

Public lectures on Irene Oore’s The Listener and other Holocaust literature and history by Dr. Adam Beardsworth, Dr. Bonnie White, Dr. Shoshannah Ganz and a student panel (student names and lecture titles tba). 

Feb. 3, 3:30-4:30 p.m., NST 

Lecture and reading by Irene Oore, author of The Listener (2019). 

Feb. 15, 1:30-3:30 p.m., NST 

Lectures by Dr. Tom Halford, Dr. Shoshannah Ganz, and a student panel on Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife (2020). Student names and lecture titles tba. 

Feb. 17, 3:30-4:30 p.m., NST 

Reading by Souvankham Thammavongsa, winner of the 2020 Giller Prize for How to Pronounce Knife (2020). 

March 3, 1:30-3:30 p.m., NST 

Lecture by Dr. Shoshannah Ganz on “The Canadian Short Story Cycle, Dark Tourism, and Maria Reva’s Good Citizens Need Not Fear (2020),”and a student panel on select stories from the collection (individual student names and paper titles tba). 

March 5, 7:30-8:30 p.m., NST 

Reading by Maria Reva, author of Good Citizens Need Not Fear (2020) – this reading will correspond with the opening night of the Atlantic English Undergraduate Conference. 

Debunking covid-19

Grenfell prof investigates Covid-19 conspiracy theories

A Grenfell professor has co-authored a new book exploring the development of pandemic conspiracy theories.

“Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order and Other Viral Ideas,” co-authored by Grenfell Campus folklorist John Bodner, was released just prior to the holiday season.

Dr. John Bodner

Dr. Bodner is one of six authors who “examine the most popular COVID-19 theories,” according to the publisher, McFarland & Company, Inc.: In a recent presentation about his research, Dr. Bodner explained some of the basics about “conspiracy theories.”

For instance, one frank definition for “conspiracy” was termed by Knight (2003): “when a small group of powerful people combine together in secret to plan and carry out an illegal or improper, particularly one that alters the course of events.”

“There are a lot of different ways to understand the different types of conspiracy theories,” said Dr. Bodner., pointing to alternate explanations of an isolated event (the moon landing hoax), vast conspiratorial systems (QAnon) and super-conspiracies (the New World Order).

Another way of understanding conspiracies, he said, is “who’s the enemy?” In other words, who is “them?”

“Conspiracy theories often talk about “them” or “they,” said Dr. Bodner. “Sometimes they identify who it is, sometimes they don’t.

Of course the term “conspiracy theory” is a derogatory one, and he points out that theorists will refer to themselves as “researchers” or “truthers” who are sharing knowledge that they consider to be nonfiction.

Cover image

The work featured in “Covid-19 Conspiracy Theories” examines how theories, stories and conspiracy beliefs emerged as Covid-19 spread around the globe.

According to the publisher’s synopsis, “these theories infected communities from the halls of Congress to Facebook groups, spreading quickly in newspapers, on various social media and between friends. They spurred debate about the origins, treatment options and responses to the virus, creating distrust towards public health workers and suspicion of vaccines. This book examines the most popular Covid-19 theories, connecting current conspiracy beliefs to long-standing fears and urban legends. By examining the vehicles and mechanisms of Covid-19 conspiracy, readers can better understand how theories spread and how to respond to misinformation.” Chapters include:
Chapter 1: Conspiracy 101: A Primer
Chapter 2: The “Wuhan Virus”: A Cautionary Tale of Origin Conspiracy Theories
Chapter 3: Recycling White Power Rumors after the Black Death
Chapter 4: “But My Cousin Said”: COVID-19 and Black Communities
Chapter 5: Harmful Additives: Anti-vaccination Conspiracy Theories Before and During the Time of COVID-19