CAMPUS WATCH: Queen’s nature-based DEI project open to students who “identify as fat”
CAMPUS WATCH: Queen’s nature-based DEI project open to students who “identify as fat”

A Queen’s University “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) project seeking to “reclaim space in outdoor culture” is open to graduate applicants who “identify as fat.” 

The “Reclaiming Nature Spaces” project is also open to visible minorities, LGBTQ people, and those who are disabled, amid the scholars behind the project claiming that outdoor culture has been “historically been white, able-bodied, heterosexual, (and) male” dominated.

A project overview document obtained by True North notes that “racialized people, women, the LGBTQ+ community, disabled people, and those who identify as fat have all created grassroots programs to support each other in a constellation of resistance against what outdoor culture has historically been: white, able-bodied, heterosexual, male.”

The project “seeks to uplift and amplify these structures of resistance by learning from and with the very people who are doing what their ancestors could not do.”

The multi-site project has several objectives to “reclaim” outdoor culture. These include challenging “dominant narratives that reproduce the white heteropatriarchy and tend to recolonize outdoor culture” and learning how groups “navigate, negotiate, resist, and interpret recreation on stolen (Indigenous) land.”

The project is being funded by a Government of Canada grant. A $12,000 annual stipend will be given to successful applicants – in addition to scholarships and teaching assistant opportunities. 

The document also notes that participants will be working out of Queen’s University – a “predominantly white institution situated on the ancestral lands of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe First Nations.”

One of the scholars leading the initiative is Queen’s Kinesiology and Health Studies assistant Prof. Courtney Szto.

Her bio on Queen’s website notes that her research is “largely activist driven” and tries “to complicate our understanding of how, when, and where sport and/or physical cultures can be used to address issues of injustice.” 

Szto’s bio also notes that she is interested in supervising graduate students working in the areas of “(new) media studies, intersectionality/intersectional justice, anti-racism, consumption culture, corporate social responsibility, (cultural) citizenship, fat activism, athlete activism, environmental sustainability/justice, outdoor culture (e.g., hiking, camping, mountaineering, climbing etc.) and public memory.”

Neither Szto or Queen’s University responded to True North’s request for comment. 

“Fat-identifying” students interested in being part of the project have until Jan 15, 2024 to submit their application.

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