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A Dialogue on Citizenship
Good Conversation > Philia Dialogues > A Dialogue on Citizenship

To highlight the insights within the disability community, we initiated the Philia Address with the intention of bringing together leading public thinkers from the mainstream with leading public thinkers who happen to have a disability. Our first Philia Address was held on December 13, 2002, between Catherine Frazee and Michael Ignatieff. Over 500 individuals attended the event, jointly hosted by Ryerson University's Institute for Disability Studies Research and Education and Philia.

You can listen to the dialogue or view it in streamed video by clicking here.

"Being a citizen is much more than asserting one's rights. It is also about making our contribution, and accepting our responsibilities to the common good. The old definition of 'citizen' encouraged a certain passivity. What is required today is a new definition, one that inspires the engagement and diverse contribution of everyone." -- Michael Ignatieff

Michael Ignatieff is a noted Canadian scholar, novelist and, most recently, Member of Parliament. Until 2005 Dr. Ignatieff was Carr Professor and Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In August 2005, he left Harvard to become the Chancellor Jackman Visiting Professor in Human Rights Policy at the University of Toronto. His book, The Rights Revolution, argues for the universal relevance of the Canadian rights experience. The Needs of Strangers (1984) examines our need for a sense of community, for the compassion and practical welfare it brings - a need that is often not met. In January 2006, Dr. Ignatieff was elected as a Liberal MP to the Canadian House of Commons.

"For people with disabilities, the notion of citizenship is bound up with questions of access and entitlement, and with processes and structures that threaten to extinguish our identity and contribution. To be a citizen is to belong. At the intersection of disability and citizenship, we confront the essential question of our collective allegiance to a constitution of values." -- Catherine Frazee

Catherine Frazee is a writer, educator and researcher who draws from her own experience of disablement in entering ethical and cultural dialogues about citizenship and personhood. A Professor of Distinction in the Disability Studies program at Ryerson University and Co-director of Ryerson's Institute for Disability Studies Research and Education, she is a committed activist who has lectured and published extensively on issues related to disability rights, identity, culture and the disability experience.  Her work is informed by many years of involvement in the equality struggles of disadvantaged and marginalized groups, most notably during her term as Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 1989 to 1992.

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