FLUID is a photographic portrait series by Los Angeles-based photographer Blake Little. The project began in 2017 as a simple casting call. The response was overwhelming. What Little recognized at the time was the pivotal and seismic shift in the history of the human identity spectrum that saw transgender, non-binary, gender fluid, Two Spirit and + subjects at the forefront. As an artist Blake felt compelled to begin recording the regular, activist, and celebrity subjects on the vanguard while paying particular attention to diversity of class, race, age, and geographic location of his subjects.

With the support of the University of Regina’s MAP, Queer City Cinema and other supporters, portraits were taken at the University in March. Little has captured a range of details in his models – from confident, poignant, or emotionally raw physiques and skin surfaces to carefully considered attire. Each portrait is constructed collaboratively with the model. Little’s subjects are “in-between,” “out,” or elsewhere on the gender spectrum. Each is a sensitive marker of degrees on the spectrum that can read as both expressive and open, or formally reserved.

The touring exhibition of 40 colour portraits and a publication have evolved in close consultation with Aaron Devor, founder and academic director of the world’s largest transgender archives, and founder and host of the international, interdisciplinary Moving Trans History Forward conferences and professor of Sociology at the University of Victoria. The FLUID exhibition will begin to address pertinent issues and concerns to a broader public, such as: Is gender over? What are the new semiotics of gender representation? Is post-gender the new international civil rights movement? What are the protocols and issues to be addressed in the making of photographic representation of trans, gender fluid, non-binary and Two Sprit + models? Answers to these and other questions will undoubtedly challenge expectations.

- Wayne Baerwaldt



Evie Ruddy
Evie Ruddy

 “It seems to me we’re in a post-Pride era of diversity and gender neutral inclusion in public and private life, with issues being discussed in university forums as well as public school classrooms and corporate board rooms. As a photographer and a viewer there is perhaps an unconscious aim to have my own understanding of gender representation (informed initially by the culture wars of the 1980s) refreshed and perhaps corrected. I am so thankful to my models that came to the University of Regina to be photographed, simply for allowing me to work with them. In many ways I, like others, are being encouraged to listen in and learn about gender diversity through photographs and moving images. My procedure then is, first and foremost, to observe and interpret with sensitivity. The portraits and the social process behind their production at the University of Regina and elsewhere will continue to generate public discussion around why we find these images so powerful, alluring and, on occasion, so difficult to process. Each portrait subject invites new forms of characterization by us as observant interpreters.”

-Blake Little

Asher Chen
Asher Chen

Blake Little was born and raised in Seattle, Washington and moved to Los Angeles in 1982 after graduating with a photography degree from Seattle’s Central College. He is best known for his ability to capture, with an honest intimacy, the energy and personality of his subjects. His portraits subjects have been diverse, from luminaries such as Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Samuel Jackson, kd Lang, and John Baldesarri, to rural Canadians in his series New West. Little’s work has been exhibited in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Calgary, Kansas City, St. Louis, San Diego, Lethbridge and in Japan. His work has been appeared in the London Times, New York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ and other media outlets. Four monographs on his work have been produced: Dichotomy in 1997, The Company of Men, 2010, Manifest, 2012 and Preservation, 2014.

Madi Schenk
Madi Schenk

Wayne Baerwaldt is an art, photography, architecture curator and a Michele Sereda Artist in Residence for Socially Engaged Practice within MAP at the University of Regina. He has co-produced exhibitions, events, symposia and publications that trace performative elements, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary investigations of unstable forms and disputed identities.

Apple Fluid
Apple Fluid

Aaron Devor, initiated and holds the inaugural position as the world’s only Chair in Transgender Studies. He is the founder and academic director of the world’s largest transgender archives, and founder and host of the international, interdisciplinary Moving Trans History Forward conferences. He is the author of numerous well-cited scholarly articles and three enduring books: FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society (2016, 1997), The Transgender Archives: Foundations for the Future (2014), and Gender Blending: Confronting the Limits of Duality (1989). He has delivered more than 20 keynote addresses worldwide and won many awards for his transgender work, including the Virginia Prince Pioneer Award, a national Equity Award, and awards from the University of Victoria for Outstanding Community Outreach, and for Advocacy and Activism in Equity and Diversity. His book about the transgender archives was also a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.

He is an elected senior member of the International Academy of Sex Research, and was chosen as a Fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. He is historian for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) and has been involved in writing versions of the WPATH Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People since 1999. He is also overseeing the translation of Version 7 into world languages. Devor is a former dean of Graduate Studies (2002-2012), a national-award-winning teacher, and a professor of Sociology at the University of Victoria.

Visit Blake Little’s website at www.blakelittle.com

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For their benevolent spirits and philanthropic generosity, Gordon and Jill Rawlinson will receive honorary degrees from the University of Regina. Both are honoured to be jointly recognized.

Gordon and Jill were both born and raised in Saskatchewan; Gordon in Prince Albert and Jill on a farm near Redvers. Jill received the Governor General’s Academic Medal in high school, and then graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Gordon graduated with distinction with a Bachelor of Commerce degree (Honours, Administration) from the University of Saskatchewan.

“My father’s mantra was, ‘The better you serve the community, the better your business will do,’” Gordon recalls. “It has proven to be very successful.”

Gordon grew up around CKBI radio in Prince Albert, the broadcasting company that his father E. A. Rawlinson founded in 1946. Gordon took over managing the company in 1969, and became the owner and CEO in 1974. He has developed and expanded the company – now Rawlco Radio – to include radio stations in Regina, Saskatoon and Calgary, all of which have been recognized for their emphasis on community service.

“My father’s mantra was, ‘The better you serve the community, the better your business will do,’” Gordon recalls. “It has proven to be very successful.”

That same emphasis on community is evident in the lengthy list of philanthropic activities supported by the couple in the areas of health care, education, the arts, and support for Aboriginal entrepreneurs and business leaders, primarily through the Lily Street Foundation, which Jill chairs.

“Growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan made me realize and appreciate the importance of a strong family and a strong community,” Jill says. “There was a huge interdependence; supporting one another is just what you did. That’s where our philanthropic commitment to Saskatchewan came from.”

The donations Jill and Gordon have made reflect their shared belief that they owe most of their success to spending their formative years in the province. Some examples include: $1.5 million to furnish and equip the Rawlco Centre for Mother Baby Care at the Regina General Hospital; $1.5 million to promote business education to Indigenous students at the University of Saskatchewan; $230,000 to the University of Regina to support aspiring journalists and Indigenous entrepreneurs; $1 million to the Children’s Discovery Museum (now Nutrien Wonderhub) in Saskatoon; $1.45 million to the E. A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts in Prince Albert; and $300,000 to the Victoria Hospital Foundation, also in Prince Albert. Other donations include $1 million to the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford and $500,000 to help develop a multiplex in North Battleford.

“Growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan made me realize and appreciate the importance of a strong family and a strong community,” Jill says. “There was a huge interdependence; supporting one another is just what you did. That’s where our philanthropic commitment to Saskatchewan came from.”

Jill and Gordon also provided $875,000 to a fund assisting Saskatchewan musical artists to each produce a CD, giving the artists full ownership of their work. The couple are also major annual supporters of the Canadian Red Cross, and the United Way in Regina and Saskatoon, always focusing their donations on the programming these organizations deliver in Saskatchewan.

Gordon is a Member of the Order of Canada and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit. He also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council at the Edwards School of Business, University of Saskatchewan.

The couple receives their honorary degree on June 7, 2019.

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Maria Fernanda Martinez CNSLI’18 sits in her office at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina where she works as the donor services coordinator for the Archbishop's Appeal.

“It’s an excellent position for me because one of my favourite areas in the non-profit sector is fundraising,” she says of her job, which includes a fundraising campaign whose proceeds support ministries, programs and Catholic charities in Southern Saskatchewan. “I’m also really happy because I never thought I’d secure a satisfying job so soon.”

Martinez moved to Canada at the end of 2017 in search of professional advancement. Her non-profit work experience in her native Colombia was extensive, including, at one point, managing corporate contributions for a private company. Just before leaving, she was the funding lead in a non-profit organization. She had the experience but lacked academic credentials.

“I was researching different programs that matched my non-profit interest,” she says, adding that she was drawn to shorter courses and ones that complement her existing experience in the non-profit sector. That’s how she happened upon Luther College and the Centre for Continuing Education’s Certificate in Nonprofit Sector Leadership and Innovation (NSLI).

“It fulfilled all my criteria,” she says. “It was short so I could do it in one year and I could work part-time or full-time while I completed it. So I applied and was accepted.”

Under the directorship of Yvonne Harrison, the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Studies Network (NVSSN), located at Luther College at the University of Regina, oversees delivery of the five-course NSLI Certificate. It’s the first formal program of study on the non-profit and voluntary sector in Saskatchewan.

Harrison draws from her extensive non-profit and voluntary sector background, rich in scholarship and innovative research. As a faculty member at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the State University of New York at Albany (University of Albany, SUNY), she was awarded the President’s Award for Exemplary Public Engagement and received grants to increase access to non-profit leadership education and research by proposing a series of massive open online courses on improving leadership and governance in non-profit organizations. Those courses currently enrol about 19,000 people in 162 countries.

Maria Fernanda Martinez Although Maria Fernanda Martinez had a lot of non-profit experience in her native Columbia, the NSLI Certificate program fit nicely with her availability and those skills she wished to acquire. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

“And they are working on critical social justice and economic issues, often in countries without functioning governments,” she says, explaining that students are encouraged to use the course and open source materials she and co-instructor, Professor Vic Murray of the University of Victoria, developed to teach, conduct research and provide a service to help boards reach higher levels of performance. This includes Board Checkup, a free online tool students and boards use to conduct confidential assessments of board performance, and Guidelines for Improving the Effectiveness of Boards of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations, the SUNY Open Textbook, which has been downloaded over 11,200 times.

She says that even in more stable economies where there have been a growing number of governance failures, there’s a movement for boards within the non-profit and voluntary sector to beef up governance processes to be more efficient, effective and accountable.

“So, universities are giving back to the communities, not only by sharing the knowledge and resources they have, but also by shaping education and research to generate real, usable, practical knowledge to help them respond to real world problems,” Harrison says.

To that end, the NSLI certificate program follows a largely applied experiential learning model, intentionally connecting students to organizations in the community through academic courses in one way or another. This is what, in part, appealed to alumna Hannah Sackville BA’18, CNSLI’18.

Hannah Sackville (left) was one of the first students to complete the NSLA certificate. She’s seen here with administrative assistant Vivya Natana. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

“While you’re learning about cost analysis and mission drift as issues within an organization, for example, you’re also consulting with a local non-profit that’s struggling with those issues,” says Sackville, who currently works for the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan. “You’re doing research that can inform their future decisions, depending on how well you’ve done your job, of course,” she adds.

Sackville was among the first cohort to graduate from the program and currently sits on the NVSSN Advisory Committee. During the program, she remembers working in various capacities with local non-profits, including the Regina Bridge Club, the Indian Head Grand Theatre, the Joshua Mutafya Foundation and the Mennonite Central Committee.

“We were always learning from each other and working together to innovate,” she says of projects that she and her classmates undertook. Sackville says these varied from boosting revenue development streams, to strategies for recruiting volunteers, to deciding — in the case of one particular charity — what to do with an unused space.

The experiential learning aspect of the curriculum is a highlight of the program that resonated with Martinez.

“There’s no playing around,” says Martinez, who worked as a research assistant with NVSSN before graduating in autumn 2018. She was especially impressed by all the projects that had students design proposals to address specific challenges faced by local non-profit organizations. “You get to help real non-profit organizations do better by offering valuable proposals that can be developed further.”

Canada has the second largest non-profit sector in the world with an estimated 170,000 registered charities and non-profit organizations. According to Imagine Canada, an umbrella organization that represents the charitable sector, more than two million people are employed by non-profits. These institutions contribute $176 billion in income and account for more than eight per cent of Canada’s GDP.

For Sackville, being included on the NVSSN Advisory Committee — first as a student and now as an alumna — has served as a professional development opportunity.

“I get to work with a lot of people who are executive directors of organizations or who are practitioners in the community and who are supportive and conscious that, while I may not have their level of experience as a practitioner, my input on matters to do with NVSSN is valuable,” she says.

According to Sackville, recurring statistics have revealed an age gap on important committees and boards, with younger people not adequately represented. People her age, she supposes, may not even consider themselves suitable for those leadership opportunities, but formal training like the NSLI certificate can equip them with the necessary skills and confidence to seek out those opportunities.

Harrison agrees. She says that formal academic programs on the non-profit and voluntary sectors not only foster the development of knowledge and leadership capability, they generate knowledge and resources that non-profit and voluntary organizations can use to further develop and grow.

(Left to right) Hannah Sackville, Yvonne Harrison, and Vivya Natana are just three of the individuals who see a bright future for the NSLI certificate program. Canada has the second largest non-profit sector in the world with an estimated 170,000 registered charities and non-profit organizations. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

But Harrison says those statistics are based on data collected from incorporated charitable and non-profit organizations of a certain size, which Canada Revenue Agency tracks. These data don’t include the unincorporated voluntary associations or the contributions from volunteerism. “So, the sector’s actually much larger than we know,” she explains, “and what those social contributions add up to economically? It’s a whole lot.”

This is why Harrison sees it fitting that the province with the highest rate of volunteerism in the country (58 per cent) has an academic program like NVSSN to play a supporting role in enhancing contributions and building sector capacity in Saskatchewan.

One way NVSSN does this is by organizing gatherings like the Common Threads Conference, which brings people together to discuss emerging issues and trends within the sector. “That’s where the seeds of innovation begin,” Harrison says. “And that can inform education, it can inform research and it can inform service.”

“We see our program as an academic pathway,” Harrison says. “Our community and students are now saying, ‘We would like to see a course on this or that, more accessible, affordable and flexible courses, and a degree or a minor or a major because this is what we need to succeed or want to study and do.'"

Last year’s conference addressed the question: How do we become more representative of the communities we serve? The conference featured a panel of local experts, talking circles and a keynote by Patricia Bradshaw, dean of the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University and a professor of Management. Bradshaw’s keynote drew from research she had conducted and published on diversity and inclusion in the governance of non-profit organizations in Canada.

Participants, including students and local practitioners, left the conference with protocols, practices and evidence that diversity is a powerful tool that has transformed non-profit boards and organizations. The conference also planted the seed for a new NSLI course – Managing Diversity in Nonprofit Organizations – which launched in the winter 2019 semester.

“We see our program as an academic pathway,” Harrison says. “Our community and students are now saying, ‘We would like to see a course on this or that, more accessible, affordable and flexible courses, and a degree or a minor or a major because this is what we need to succeed or want to study and do.’”

“Absolutely,” says Martinez about the idea of a degree option. She says graduating from the program has sharpened her interest in areas of the non-profit sector not tackled deeply by the certificate.

Sackville, too, says a degree program or more robust formalized education in the non-profit and voluntary sectors will open doors for early career workers. “I think that charitable and non-profit organizations in Canada are moving in that direction,” she says. “They want to mitigate talent gaps down the road, and hiring and retaining qualified staff is the way to do that.”

For more information on the program, click here.


Iryn Tushabe is a Ugandan independent journalist and writer living in Saskatchewan. Her literary journalism has appeared in Canadian publications, including Prairies North magazine, and in Uganda’s New Vision newspaper.

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