The University of Winnipeg



Lineup for UWinnipeg’s annual Middle East Week unveiled

Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, Dr. William R. Dickson, Dr. Nora Gold, and Belle Jarniewski, ©Mike Sudoma 

Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, Dr. William R. Dickson, Dr. Nora Gold, and Belle Jarniewski, ©Mike Sudoma

UWinnipeg presents its annual Middle East Week from February 26 – March 2, 2018 on campus. This week promotes dialogue, and further understanding of this multifaceted and historically-rich region of the world. This year’s lineup includes Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (University of Waterloo); Dr. Nora Gold, writer, activist and founder of JSpaceCanada; Belle Jarniewski, Chair of the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada; and Dr. William R. Dickson, UWinnipeg academic contemporary Islamic professor. All events are open to the public.

Monday, February 26, 2018
Fields of Exile: Fiction as a Tool for Educating About Israel on Campus
Presented by Dr. Nora Gold
12:00pm – 12:45 pm in Eckhardt Gramatté Hall

Coffee break 12:45 – 1:00pm

Canadians in ISIS: Who Are They and Is There a Threat?
Presented by Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam
1:00 pm – 1:45 pm in Eckhardt Gramatté Hall

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
5th Annual Leadership Breakfast – Strangers No More: Refugees, Schools, and a Future for All 
Presented by Mohammad Rezai, Vice-Principal, Grant Park High.
7:30 am in Convocation Hall
To purchase tickets please visit Multi-faith Leadership Breakfast  

*Sponsors for this event: The Manitoba Multifaith Council, The Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy of the Global College, University of Winnipeg, and the University of Winnipeg.

Friday, March 2, 2018 
What’s in a Word? Defining Antisemitism and Islamophobia
Presented by Belle Jarniewski and Dr. W. Rory Dickson
12:30 – 1:30pm in Convocation Hall

Biographies (in alphabetical order)

Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, photo supplied

Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, photo supplied

Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Waterloo where he co-directs a study of Western foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq. He is the author of Pain, Pride, and Politics: Sri Lankan Tamil Activism in Canada (2015).

His research interests are in radicalization, terrorism, diaspora politics, post-war reconstruction, and the sociology of religion. He is the editor of Sri Lanka: The Struggle for Peace in the Aftermath of War (2016), The Stewart/Colbert Effect: Essays on the Real Impacts of Fake News (2011) and Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal (2010). He is also the author of several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, has presented papers at over 100 national and international conferences, and has written for The New York Times, The Monkey Cage, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, and War on the Rocks. He tweets at @AmarAmarasingam.

Dr. Nora Gold, photo supplied

Dr. Nora Gold, photo supplied

Dr. Nora Gold, the Founder of JSpaceCanada, is a writer, activist, and the creator and editor of the prestigious online literary journal, Jewish Fiction .net. She created JSpaceCanada in her living room in 2010 and, prior to that, co-founded the New Israel Fund of Canada and Canadian Friends of Givat Haviva. Her first book, Marrow and Other Stories, won a Canadian Jewish Book Award and was praised by Alice Munro. Her second book, Fields of Exile, was the first novel about anti-Israelism on campus, and won the 2015 Canadian Jewish Literary Award, as well as praise from Irwin Cotler, Cynthia Ozick, Phyllis Chesler, and Ruth Wisse, among others. Gold’s most recent book is The Dead Man, a novel set in Israel.

Gold received her PhD in social work from University of Toronto, was an Associate Professor for ten years, and is currently an Associate Scholar and the Writer-in-Residence and at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE), at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (OISE/UT). At the CWSE Dr. Gold founded and coordinates the Wonderful Women Writers Series, which showcases the work of excellent Canadian women writers. She currently serves on the board of the Jerusalem-based feminist foundation, The Dafna Fund, and is on the Academic Advisory Council of the Hadassah Brandeis Institute in Boston. Find her work at

Belle Jarniewski, photo supplied

Belle Jarniewski, photo supplied

Belle Jarniewski has been Chair of the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada since 2008. Since 2013, she has served on the federally appointed delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). She is also the current President of the Board of Directors of the Manitoba Multifaith Council. 

As a child of two Shoah survivors, Jarniewski has felt compelled to educate students of all ages about the Shoah and other genocides. Among the events she helps to organize is an annual symposium for Manitoba high school students at the University of Winnipeg attracting up to 2000 students. Her book, Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors (2010), documents the stories of 73 local survivors. Jarniewski’s passion for tikkun olam (mending the world) led her to pursue an MA degree in Theology at the University of Winnipeg. Believing that actions speak louder than mere words, she co-founded a Muslim-Jewish interfaith dialogue group in 2015, which meets regularly. She is also one of the original founders of Operation Ezra, an initiative to sponsor Yazidi refugees to Canada and to focus world awareness on this genocide occurring “in broad daylight.” 

William Dickson, ©UWinnipeg

Dr. William R. Dickson, ©UWinnipeg

Dr. William R. Dickson is an Assistant Professor of Islamic Religion and Culture at UWinnipeg. His research focuses on contemporary Islam in general and Islamic spirituality (Sufism) more particularly. Dickson’s first book, Living Sufism in North America: Between Tradition and Transformation (SUNY 2015) explores how Sufis in North America relate to Islamic orthodoxy, authority, and gender. He has recently published an introduction to Sufism with Meena Sharify-Funk, Unveiling Sufism: From Manhattan to Mecca (Equinox 2017), and an overview of issues within contemporary Sufism with Sharify-Funk and Merin Shobhana Xavier, Contemporary Sufism: Piety, Politics, and Popular Culture (Routledge 2017). Dickson has published articles on Islamic identity and practice in the Journal of Contemporary Islam and Studies in Religion and has presented his research at a number of national and international conferences, most recently at the Transnational Sufism in Contemporary Societies conference at the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice, Italy (November 2017).