Next week: Blackness in North America; a board member explains why Canadian Studies matters

An item from our of our fellow Canadian organizations in the Bay Area.

Canadian Studies Announcements
In this issue:
  • Next Week: Blackness and Belonging in North America
  • Meet Canadian Studies: Board member Kathryn Exon Smith
  • Upcoming event: Migrant farmworker rights under COVID-19
Next Week:
Return: On Blackness and Belonging in North America
Lecture | September 15 | 12:30 PM | Online – RSVP here
McGill University professor Debra Thompson, an expert on race and ethnic politics, will explore the complex experience of Black people in North America, juxtaposing her deep, ancestral links to the United States with a parallel but at times competing national affinity with the land to which many enslaved Black Americans once fled: Canada. Through the analytical insights of black political thought, Prof. Thompson uses personal narrative to explore the boundaries of racial belonging and identify key facets of Canadian ideas about race and racism; to analyze the transnational nuances and contours of the African diaspora in North America; and ultimately, to think through what it means to be in a place, but not be of that place.
Please RSVP at to receive a webcast link. You must be signed in to a Zoom account to join. UC Berkeley affiliates can use their CalNet ID’s to sign in to Zoom; other participants can create a free, consumer Zoom account or dial in via phone.
Meet Canadian Studies: Board Member Kathryn Exon Smith
For this week’s “Meet Canadian Studies” profile, we talked to board members Kathryn Exon Smith. We asked her how living in the United States had shaped her identity as a Canadian, and why she thinks Canadian Studies has an important role to play in addressing today’s issues.
Born in England, Kathryn’s family moved to Ontario when she was a child. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Toronto. In 2013, she and her husband moved to California, settling in San Jose. Kathryn is an urbanist and has volunteered for a number of nonprofits in the South Bay and Toronto, with a focus on intelligent planning and sustainable development.
Highlights from our interview are below; read the full piece here.
What’s it like to be a Canadian living in the Bay Area?
I didn’t realize how deep my sense of being Canadian was until we moved away — I think this is common for many expats. In some ways, I feel even more connected to Canada here in California: I now have good friends from across Canada, and I better understand the wide spectrum of experiences being “Canadian” includes. With my family being English, the only sport on our television growing up was football [soccer], but I was persuaded to attend my very first hockey game a few months after moving here.
What makes Canadian Studies at Berkeley special?
Canadian Studies is a unique mix of important scholarship and community engagement. It is a cultural and intellectual home for students, academics, and the broader community. To have a program focused on Canada at Berkeley, one of the world’s premier educational institutions, is a signal of the role Canada can play in the critical issues of the twenty-first century. Canadian Studies has reach into all kinds of disciplines, and this is its strength.
What is your vision for the program’s future?
I am thrilled to be working with Irene, and feel honoured to serve on this board. In the last year, we’ve tried to bring in board members with a diversity of experience and perspectives, who are passionate about Canada and invested in the success of the Canadian Studies Program. I’d also like to continue to strengthen partnerships between the program and the community. One of the silver linings of the last few months is how adept we’ve become at moving things online, which means the program can have a broader reach.
Social Movements and Legal Mobilisation in Times of Crisis: Migrant Farm Worker Rights in Canada
Lecture | October 6 | 12:30 p.m. | Online – RSVP here
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected migrant farm workers. Former Hildebrand Fellow Vasanthi Venkatesh, a professor of law at the University of Windsor specializing in social movements and immigration, gives context to the crisis by showing how the pandemic has overlaid itself onto existing systemic racial discrimination against migrant farm workers embedded in law and policy. She also shows how migrant farm worker advocates have responded to the crisis by exposing the racial capitalism of the Canadian agricultural economy, using radical narratives to challenge these systems.
Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley, 213 Moses Hall #2308, Berkeley, CA 94720

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