Session 3 – Tuesday May23 2023

Getting Prepared: What you need to do behind the
scenes to get ready for a life in the public eye.


  • Dr. Deatra Walsh

    Dr. Deatra Walsh’s career stretches across employment in the post-secondary, government and now, non-governmental sector. She worked with the Government of Nunavut for four years, first as the manager of territorial labour market programming and later as the Director of Poverty Reduction.

    She has held teaching and postdoctoral research positions at Mount Allison, Memorial, York and Dalhousie University in Canada. She has also worked abroad at UiT: The Arctic University of Norway as a postdoctoral researcher and an associate professor in methodology.

    She remains affiliated with UiT. Deatra uses both quantitative and qualitative methods in the social sciences and conducts research on wellness among aging populations, environmental change, labour mobility, homelessness and popular culture. She has had a long history of working and researching with rural communities in Canada.

    Deatra is also the Chair of Persistence Theatre – A feminist professional theatre company that responds to the persistent and universal need for promoting, understanding and embracing the core beliefs of feminism.

Guest Speakers:

  • Gemma Hickey

    A multi-awarding winning international author, activist and global speaker from Newfoundland and Labrador, Gemma Hickey’s advocacy has made headlines worldwide and changed the legal landscape of Canada expanding the rights, dignity, and equality of the LBGTQ2+ community and survivors of religious institutional abuse.

    Gemma became a well-known force for change in 2004, when they co-lead the movement that legalized same-sex marriage in Canada. In 2017, their court application requesting a gender-neutral birth certificate spurred the Newfoundland and Labrador government to change its law, and Gemma became the first person in Canada to receive a non-binary birth certificate and Passport.

    In 2013, Gemma founded the Pathways Foundation, a non-profit that supports survivors of clergy abuse. To raise awareness and funds for the cause, they walked over 900km across Newfoundland in July of 2015. In 2019, they co-founded ACTS Canada (Advocates for Clergy Trauma Survivors) to support survivors nation-wide.

    Gemma’s physical and personal journey through gender transformation is the subject of the documentary, Just Be Gemma. The film aired on CBC television and the Documentary Channel in 2017, screened at various Canadian film festivals in 2018, and made its international debut in 2019 in Japan.

    Gemma’s 2019 memoir, Almost Feral has won several national and international awards, and was recently acquired by a publisher in Japan. The first 20 people who registered for Campaign College this year will find a copy of this in your swag bags!

    A highly sought-after public speaker, Gemma has given addresses at various universities and Canadian Embassies in different parts of the world, including the United Nations. In 2012 they were recognized with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for their contribution to human rights in Canada, and in 2016, named a Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Champion.

    Gemma has worked as the Executive Director of Artforce, an arts-based charity for at-risk youth since 2010. They are currently a master’s candidate in Gender Studies at Memorial University and serve as Vice-President of the St. John’s Centre District Association, Member At-Large of the St. John’s South Mount Pearl Riding Association, and the first President of the 2SLGBTQQIA+ Commission for the Liberal Party.
  • Gerry Rogers

    Gerry Rogers was born in Corner Brook and grew up moving from Montreal to Toronto to Winnipeg to Germany due to her father’s military career, to return to St. John’s in 1979, where Gerry completed a Bachelor of Social Work at MUN, then working at the St. John’s Women’s Centre.

    Gerry’s film career began in 1982 at the National Film Board’s Studio D in Montreal where she was Program Producer of the Federal Women’s Film Program, a film production, distribution and training program for women filmmakers. In 1992 she returned to Newfoundland and founded Augusta Productions.

    Gerry has more than 20 films to her credit and over 40 international awards, including My Left Breast, a documentary about her own battle with breast cancer.. Among these are the multi-award winning film My Left Breast (for which she won two Geminis) and the films Pleasant Street, FERRON: girl on a road and After the Montreal Massacre.

    A passionate advocate for social justice, Gerry Rogers served in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly as NDP MHA for the electoral district of St. John’s Centre from 2011 to 2019. The first openly gay politician ever elected to the provincial legislature, Gerry is also the former leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party, 2018-2019.

    In 2017, MHA Gerry Rogers introduced a private member’s bill asking the provincial government to develop pay equity legislation, which was the catalyst of the important conversations we are having today, to hold the government accountable.
  • Gillian Pearson

    Born and raised in Salmon Cove, Conception Bay North, Gillian ran in her first campaign in 1996 during a Grade 3 civic education project. Her slogan was “a Vote for Gillian is a Vote for Progress.”

    With a keen interest in governance and policy, Gillian went on to study Political Science at Memorial University at both the undergraduate and graduate level where she was a member of the Gender and Politics Research Lab. Her research interests include gendered dynamics in electoral politics, political communication, and the social and economic impact of universal childcare.

    A passionate advocate for early learning and childcare in the province, Gillian ran for the Progressive Conservative Party in the 2019 provincial general election, bringing attention to issues that disproportionately affect women and other marginalized populations.

    She has held several key organizing roles within the provincial party, including former President of the Women’s Progressive Conservative Association, Policy Committee Member, and chair of a number of fundraising events. At the 2022 PC AGM, Gillian was co-organizer of a prime time session on equity and diversity, where party members were briefed on supporting and understanding diverse candidates and the importance of equitable outcomes in policy and process.

    She has worked on a number of municipal, provincial, and federal political campaigns, and is currently the Director of Communications for a PC Leadership Candidate. Gillian has also had the immense privilege of serving as a past co-chair of the Equal Voice NL chapter.

    She is currently employed with a federal agency and lives in Mount Pearl with her husband and two young boys. She believes organizing, either for yourself or someone else, is one of the most incredible paths you can take to learn, grow and make a difference in the world.

    Her motto is NOT “what kills you makes you stronger”— (it just doesn’t kill you!)  BUT, her best advice is—never screen yourself out. There are enough people in the world who will do that for you. Always count yourself in.