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Award-Winning Author Souvankham Thammavongsa Rounds off Centre A 2022 Speaker Series

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Vancouver, B.C., Canada (October 13, 2022) – Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is pleased to present an online reading and Q&A session with award-winning author Souvankham Thammavongsa, as part of our 2022 Speaker Series.

 

Event Details:

Saturday, October 15, 2022, 1 – 2 PM PDT / Registration link: HERE.

 

About the Talk:

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During the talk, Thammavongsa will discuss her book HOW TO PRONOUNCE KNIFE and perform a short reading of the book. After the reading, attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions about the book during the Q&A. Attendees are encouraged (but not required) to read HOW TO PRONOUNCE KNIFE prior to the talk.

About the Speaker:

Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of four poetry books, and the short story collection HOW TO PRONOUNCE KNIFE, winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize and 2021 Trillium Book Award, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and PEN America Open Book Award, out now with Little, Brown (U.S.), McClelland & Stewart (Canada), and Bloomsbury (U.K.), available in French, with foreign rights sold in China, Korea, Poland, and Turkey. Her stories have won an O. Henry Award and appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Granta, and NOON. She has also written book reviews for The New York Times, and edited the anthologies Best Canadian Poetry (2021) and The Griffin Poetry Prize (2021). She is known for her PowerPoint videos on Zoom about writing, most recently one titled “I Am Not That Interesting.” Currently, she is working on her first novel. She was born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, and was raised, and educated at public schools, in Toronto.

Centre A’s Acknowledgements:

 

Centre A is situated in Vancouver’s Chinatown, on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. We honour, respect, and give thanks to our hosts. Centre A gratefully acknowledges the support of all of our funders, donors, programming partners, and Centre A members.

 

Centre A would like to acknowledge the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the BC Arts Council for supporting the Centre A Speaker Series.

About Centre A:

Centre A is the only public art gallery in Canada dedicated to contemporary Asian and Asian-diasporic perspectives since 1999. Centre A is committed to providing a platform for engaging diverse communities through public access to the arts, creating mentorship opportunities for emerging artists/arts professionals, and stimulating critical dialogue through provocative exhibitions and innovative public programs that complicate understandings of migrant experiences and diasporic communities. In addition to our exhibition space, we house a reading room with one of the best collections of Asian art books in the country, including the Finlayson Collection of Rare Asian Art Books. Subscribe to Centre A’s newsletter here.

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Media Contact

Henry Heng Lu

info@centrea.org

Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art205-268 Keefer Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X5centrea.orgTel: +1 604-683-8326Fax: +1 604-683-8632Email: info@centrea.org
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Social media tools were key to 'Freedom Convoy' protest, expert tells inquiry – CBC News

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Social media acted as the “central nervous system” of the “Freedom Convoy” protest in Ottawa last winter, the Public Order Emergency Commission heard Tuesday as it considered the role played by misinformation in the lead-up to the invocation of the Emergencies Act.

The commission’s policy phase this week follows six weeks of fact-finding hearings on the events that led to the federal government’s decision to invoke the act to end the convoy protests. Those hearings included testimony about online threats and the role social media played in organizing the protests against COVID-19 public health measures.

Before thousands of trucks started rolling toward Ottawa last January, a loose group of protest organizers communicated mainly over TikTok and Facebook, the commission heard over those weeks of testimony. Many of them had never met in person until the protests began.

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“Social media was the central nervous system of the convoy, and exploration of its role crosses numerous domains, such as law, psychology, history, sociology and public policy, to name a few,” Emily Laidlaw, the Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity Law at the University of Calgary, wrote in a report for the commission.

Social media was used to raise funds, connect organizers and spread their message. It was also used to contrast the accounts of traditional media outlets and provide a different view of what was happening on the ground, Dax D’Orazio, a political scientist and post-doctoral fellow with Queen’s University, testified during an expert panel discussion before the commission Tuesday.

“It was a way of creating meaning, finding community and building, eventually, momentum for social and a political movement,” he said.

The inquiry is seeking expert input to bolster its analysis of whether the government was right to use the Emergencies Act in response to protests that took over downtown Ottawa and halted trade at several border crossings.

The expert testimony will inform Commissioner Paul Rouleau’s recommendations about how to modernize the Emergencies Act and identify other areas for further study. It will also help him and his team study the impact of the purposeful or inadvertent spread of false information during the protest, which was explicitly written into the commission’s mandate.

Experts testified that regulating disinformation is a difficult prospect — especially since it’s not illegal to spread falsehoods.

“It’s lawful but awful,” said Laidlaw during the panel discussion. “For the government to create legislation that targets lawful expression, it likely won’t survive constitutional scrutiny.”

The experts defined disinformation as the intentional spread of false information, while misinformation was described as people spreading false information that they themselves believe to be true.

It would be difficult to draft laws that distinguish between the two, said Jonathon Penney, a legal scholar at York University. “It’s a question of intent,” he said.

The panellists also explored the relationship between extremist views and social media, which can provide an echo chamber that serves to confirm people’s existing biases.

Trucks bound for Ottawa pass through Enfield, N.S., in late January. (Robert Short/CBC)

Studies have shown the internet can help entrench extremist values, said Vivek Venkatesh, an education professor at Concordia University.

People who subscribe to extremist views increasingly turn to “fringe media” instead of taking in news from traditional sources, said David Morin, a national security expert with Sherbrooke University, who spoke to the panel in French.

He said “self-made journalists” associated with those fringe outlets were present in Ottawa during the convoy protest, and produced “alternative information” for viewers.

For example, Morin said, some alternative media sources reported that hundreds of thousands of protesters attended the Ottawa demonstration, when police reports show the true number was far lower.

Windsor blockade affected thousands of jobs

A second panel on the flow of essential goods and services, critical infrastructure and trade corridors told the commission on Tuesday afternoon that 339,275 jobs depend on the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., that protesters blockaded for six days in February, halting trade to the United States.

Those jobs account for 1.8 per cent of all jobs in Canada, according to a report prepared by economist Francois Delorme and economics student Florence Ouellet.

The blockades highlighted the vulnerability of some of Canada’s critical infrastructure, which is governed by a patchwork of government and private sector jurisdictions.

Police cleared vehicles from a blockade of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ont., on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

If the federal government hopes to protect critical infrastructure with legislation, it should be very transparent about defining what that is, and what is and isn’t permissible nearby, said Phil Boyle, a legal studies professor at the University of Ottawa. Otherwise, he said, the legislation could be overbroad and used to stifle lawful dissent.

Drawing up a list of what constitutes critical infrastructure could be tricky, though, said Kevin Quigley, a director at the MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance at Dalhousie University.

Different infrastructure is critical to different people at different times, he said, depending on the context. A small bridge that serves as the main route to transport food to a small community could be considered critical on a local scale, for instance.

Ambarish Chandra, an economics professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, pointed out that when it comes to Canada’s land border crossings, trade is heavily concentrated in southern Ontario.

If something unexpected were to happen there, the effects could be catastrophic for the whole country, he said, adding that Canada could encourage the diversification of trucking networks to make greater use of border crossings in Quebec and in the Prairies.

The inquiry is on a tight timeline to complete its work. Rouleau is expected to submit final recommendations to Parliament at the beginning of February.

Policy panels continue on Wednesday.

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Emergencies Act: Social media was key to protests, expert says

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OTTAWA –

Social media acted as the “central nervous system” of the “Freedom Convoy” protest in Ottawa last winter, the Public Order Emergency Commission heard Tuesday as it considered the role of misinformation in the lead up to the invocation of the Emergencies Act.

The policy phase this week follows six weeks of fact-finding hearings into the events that led to that decision, which included testimony about online threats and the role social media played in organizing the protest against COVID-19 public health measures.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

Before thousands of trucks started rolling toward Ottawa last January, a loose group of protest organizers communicated mainly over TikTok and Facebook, the commission heard over those weeks of testimony. Many of them had never met in person until the protest began.

“Social media was the central nervous system of the convoy, and exploration of its role crosses numerous domains, such as law, psychology, history, sociology and public policy, to name a few,” Emily Laidlaw, the Canada Research Chair in Cybersecurity Law at the University of Calgary, wrote in a report for the commission.

Social media was used to fundraise, connect organizers and spread their message. It was also used to contrast the accounts of traditional media outlets and provide a different view of what was happening on the ground, Dax D’Orazio, a political scientist and post-doctoral fellow with Queen’s University, testified during an expert panel discussion before the commission Tuesday.

“It was a way of creating meaning, finding community and building, eventually, momentum for social and a political movement,” he said.

The inquiry is seeking the expert input to bolster its analysis of whether the government was right to use the Emergencies Act in response to protests that took over downtown Ottawa and halted trade at several border crossings.

The expert testimony will inform Commissioner Paul Rouleau’s recommendations about how to modernize the Emergencies Act and identify other areas for further study. It will also help him and his team study the impact of the purposeful or inadvertent spread of false information during the protest, which was explicitly written into the commission’s mandate.

Experts testified that regulating disinformation is a difficult prospect, especially since it’s not illegal to spread falsehoods.

“It’s lawful but awful,” said Laidlaw during the panel discussion. “For the government to create legislation that targets lawful expression, it likely won’t survive constitutional scrutiny.”

The experts defined disinformation as the intentional spread of false information, while misinformation was described as people spreading false information that they themselves believe to be true.

It would be difficult to draft laws that distinguish between the two, said Jonathon Penney, a legal scholar at York University. “It’s a question of intent,” he said.

The panellists also explored the relationship between extremist views and social media, which can provide an echo chamber that serves to confirm people’s existing biases.

Studies have shown the internet can help entrench extremist values, said Vivek Venkatesh, an education professor at Concordia University.

People who subscribe to extremist views increasingly turn to “fringe media” instead of taking in news from traditional sources, said David Morin, a national security expert with Sherbrook University, who spoke at the panel in French.

He said “self-made journalists” associated with those fringe outlets were present in Ottawa during the convoy protest, and produced “alternative information” for viewers.

For example, Morin said some alternative media sources reported that hundreds of thousands of protesters attended the Ottawa demonstration, when police reports show the true number was far lower.

The inquiry is on a tight timeline to complete its work, with Rouleau expected to submit final recommendations to Parliament at the beginning of February.

Another panel on the flow of essential goods and services, critical infrastructure and trade corridors was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2022.

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