Calgary arts groups call on Arts Commons to cancel Jordan Peterson event in open letter

Several arts groups in Calgary have sent an open letter to Arts Commons demanding it cancel an event involving controversial University of Toronto professor Jordan Peterson later this week.

Peterson is scheduled to give a lecture at the Jack Singer Concert Hall on Friday. 

The professor, who is also an author, has spoken out about Bill C-16, which provides protections for transgender Canadians. Peterson also made headlines a few years ago for refusing to use gender-neutral pronouns.

The letter has over 400 signatures and calls on Arts Commons to cancel the event, provide better diversity training to its staff and issue a public apology.

The letter says the artists are expressing their “deep shock and disappointment” by Arts Commons’ choice to host Peterson.

“The toxic, and often violent, rhetoric touted by Peterson—whose quasi-academic ideas are misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, and racist—wholly undermines the important work that our communities have been doing,” the letter read.

Several of the arts groups involved with the letter have window spaces in the Plus 15 network. 

“Hosting a talk by Jordan Peterson kind of precludes the possibility of us and our community being able to work safely in that space, so that’s something that we have to hold Arts Commons accountable for,” said Natasha Chaykowski, the director of the United Art Society.

Arts Commons responds

Arts Commons said the organization did not invite Jordan Peterson to speak, rather the event was booked by the promoter Live Nation, which selected the venue.

In a written statement, Arts Commons said it supports free speech, which means “not censoring someone because we don’t agree with what they have to say.”

“We support and fight for free speech because it helps minority views, while also allowing for a robust defence by those who disagree with those or other viewpoints. We refer to the Criminal Code, because it is our duty to uphold the law. It is not our place, however, to act as judge or jury,” the statement read.

According to Arts Commons, the Peterson event is sold out.

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.


Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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