Faculty for Palestine expresses deep sorrow today as we grieve the loss of the beautiful, brilliant Mary-Jo Nadeau, activist, scholar, friend, and co-founder of Faculty for Palestine. So many of us are devastated because MJ made building loving relationships central to building movements. We express our deepest condolences to MJ’s partner of twenty years, Steve Tufts, and to her family, friends, and comrades. MJ also had an incredibly large network of folks around the world who cherished and loved her, and from whom tributes have been flowing in daily.
Mary-Jo was a force for Palestinian solidarity, and against white supremacy and white settler colonialism. She was crucial to building the BDS movement in Canada and keeping us connected with the BDS movement worldwide. In addition to Faculty for Palestine, MJ co-founded the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA), and dedicated herself to Labour for Palestine. As an activist and organizer for CUPE, she worked tirelessly to promote union support for Palestine solidarity. Mary-Jo was also a brilliant scholar who brought an anti-racist critique to Canadian feminism and wrote critically on the silencing of the political opposition to the Israeli state. She graduated with a PhD in Sociology from York University in 2005 and, over the years, she taught at various campuses including York University, Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Toronto Mississauga, and Trent University. Tributes from her students show that she was a much-loved educator, who invited students to see themselves as agents for building a better world.
Faculty for Palestine exists in no small part because of Mary-Jo’s enthusiasm, dedication and political smarts. MJ had a way of making everyone who attended our meetings and events feel welcome and important. She drew on her deep knowledge of and connections with the Palestinian solidarity movement to keep Toronto organizing meetings on track, leading with wise counsel and her infectious laugh, warmth and good humour. Always with her eye on the big picture and on the detailed work on the ground, MJ steered F4P from its beginning as a handful of Toronto-area scholars into a network of 600 faculty of all ranks and librarians in 40 universities and colleges across Canada.
MJ held F4P together and inspired us all with her commitment, responsibility, warmth and humour. While it is painful to imagine a Faculty for Palestine meeting without MJ, her perseverance in the last months reminds us that we must not despair.
First mourn, then organize.
Rest in peace and power dear MJ.