About Us



Nancy Nicol

BFA (Concordia), MFA (York)

Associate Professor, Department of Visual Art & Art History, Full Time

Personal website Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights

Professor Nicol is an award-winning video artist and documentary filmmaker whose work is grounded in the tradition of the artist as activist, probing issues of human rights, social justice and struggles for social change. Her research, writing and creative projects include video art and documentary as well as critical theory in contemporary visual arts and social criticism. She has created more than 30 feature films and presented her works widely in national and international festivals, academic and human rights conferences and community-based organizations.

Nicol will lead a major international project on the impact of criminalizing sexual orientation and gender identity, with $1 million in funding over five years from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)’s Community-University Research Alliances (CURA) awards. This international project will foster research links between Canada and the global south, exploring the impact of laws that criminalize sexual orientation and gender identity, the ways in which LGBT and human rights groups are organizing to resist this criminalization, and the implications for human rights policy formation, social services, and immigration and refugee policies.

Envisioning will capture and contribute to history-in-the-making of distinct but linked struggles at a key moment of national and global change. Since 2009, Nicol has been bringing together a strategic alliance of partners with proven capacity in international LGBT human rights work with grass roots partners in Canada, India, East Africa, Southern Africa, and the Caribbean. The work will combine documentary and participatory video with qualitative interviewing, focus groups, legal data research and analysis and a limited use of surveys, to make a unique contribution to documenting and analyzing criminalization, asylum and resistance to criminalization within and beyond regions.

In 2009, Professor Nicol completed her award-winning series From Criminality to Equality on the history of lesbian and gay rights organizing in Canada from 1969 to 2009 (Elle Flanders Award for Best Documentary, Inside Out, Toronto, 2007 and 2006; Best Documentary, Image + Nation, Montreal, 2006; Audience Choice Award, Making Scenes, Ottawa, 2002; John Bailey Completion Award, Inside Out, 2002). The series includes the films Stand Together (124 min. 2002), The Queer Nineties (90 min. 2009), Politics of the Heart (68 min. 2005) and The End of Second Class (90 min. 2006). This body of work was supported by a research/creation grant of $198,464 awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (2003-07) as well as grants from the Canada Council for the Arts ($60,000) and Ontario Arts Council ($20,000) in 2007.  Nicol's latest film is One Summer in New Paltz a Cautionary Tale (2008).

Dykes Planning Tykes (documentary, 70 minutes, 2011) will premiere at Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, May 2011. The documentary provides a look into the groundbreaking family planning course for lesbians and queer identified women, Dykes Planning Tykes; and the diversity of queer families.

Also in May 2011, Professor Nicol was honoured for her contributions to research and documentaries on LGBT movements histories, and inducted into the National Portrait Collection of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Professor Nicol is a frequent contributor to international conferences in the areas of lgbt human rights, social movements, and art and activism. Her recent scholarly publications include: "Politics of the Heart: recognition of homoparental families", in Who's Your Daddy? And Other Writings on Queer Parenting, ed. Rachel Epstein (Sumac Press, March 2009); "Legal Struggles and Political Resistance: Same-Sex Marriage in Canada and the U.S" co-written with Miriam Smith, Sexualities Vol 11, Issue 6 (Sage Publications, December 2008, pp.667-687); and "Politics of the Heart: recognition of homoparental families", Florida Philosophical Review: Journal of the Florida Philosophical Association, Vol 8, issue 1 (University of Central Florida Department of Philosophy, summer 2008).