Last call for Thanksgiving! ūü¶É Plus: Nat’l Day of Reconcilliation; Quebec election

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

Canadian Studies Announcements

In This Issue:

Upcoming Events:

  • 5th Annual Canadian Family Thanksgiving
  • Book talk:¬†Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, 1867‚Äď1945
  • Graduate student discussion with Prof. Andrea Geiger

Canadian News

  • Canada marks second National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
  • What Quebec’s election could mean for Canada


5th Annual Canadian Family Thanksgiving

Saturday, October 8 | 5:00 pm

Clark Kerr Campus, UC Berkeley | Buy tickets here

Canadian Studies is pleased to partner with the Digital Moose Lounge for our fifth annual Canadian Thanksgiving dinner! Join us for a special meal celebrating the Bay Area’s Canadian community, as you mingle with your fellow SF Bay Canadians while enjoying entertainment and a delicious turkey dinner.

Tickets may be purchased through the Digital Moose Lounge.

Book Talk:¬†Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, 1867‚Äď1945

Wednesday, October 19 | 12:30 pm | 223 Moses | RSVP here

Andrea Geiger will discuss her new book,¬†Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, 1867‚Äď1945¬†(University of North Carolina Press, 2022). Making a vital contribution to our understanding of North American borderlands history through its examination of the northernmost stretches of the U.S.-Canada border, the book highlights the role that the North Pacific borderlands played in the construction of race and citizenship on both sides of the international border from 1867, when the United States acquired Russia‚Äôs interests in Alaska, through the end of World War II. Imperial, national, provincial, territorial, reserve, and municipal borders worked together to create a dynamic legal landscape that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people negotiated in myriad ways as they traversed these borderlands. Adventurers, prospectors, laborers, and settlers from Europe, Canada, the United States, Latin America, and Asia made and remade themselves as they crossed from one jurisdiction to another.

Within this broader framework, Geiger pays particular attention to the ways in which Japanese migrants and the Indigenous people who had made this borderlands region their home for millennia negotiated the web of intersecting boundaries that emerged over time, charting the ways in which they infused these reconfigured national, provincial, and territorial spaces with new meanings. To see the North Pacific borderlands only as a remote outpost that marked the westernmost edges of the U.S. or British empire, is to miss not only the central place it occupied in the lives of the Indigenous peoples whose home it continues to be, but the extent to which it functioned, in the eyes of Japanese entrepreneurs, as an economic hinterland for an expanding Japanese empire, as well as the role it played in shaping wartime policy with regard to citizens and subjects of Japanese ancestry in both Canada and the United States.

Andrea Geiger¬†is professor emerita of history at Simon Fraser University. Her research interests include transpacific and borderlands history, race, migration, and legal history. She received a J.D. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington, and is the author of the award-winning¬†Subverting Exclusion: Transpacific Encounters with Race, Caste, and Borders, 1885‚Äď1928.

This event is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative (BIMI), the Center for Race and Gender, and the Department of History.

Graduate Student Discussion with Andrea Geiger

UC Berkeley students with a research interest in Professor Geiger’s work are welcome to attend a small group discussion with the speaker following her public presentation. For more information, please email¬†


Canada Marks Second National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

On Friday, Canada marked its second¬†National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The holiday commemorates the children who passed through Canada’s residential school system, and honours the survivors and their families. The commemoration originates from “Orange Shirt Day”, an indigenous-led grassroots awareness campaign. It was elevated to a federal statutory holiday last year, following the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school sites.

Canada’s Indian residential school system operated from the late 19th century through the mid-20th century. It aimed to assimilate Indigenous people into European-Canadian society by removing children from their families and severing their connections to their communities and culture. Attendance was compulsory for Indigenous children from 1894 until 1947, and over 150,000 children are believed to have been enrolled between 1831 and the closure of the last school in 1998. Conditions in the schools were often horrific, and children suffered from poor sanitation, malnutrition, and physical and sexual abuse. The number of students who died at the schools remains unclear due to poor record-keeping, with estimates ranging from 3,000-30,000 children.

In a¬†statement¬†published Friday, Prime Minister Trudeau asked Canadians to “come together to reflect on the legacy of residential schools.” He called it the nation’s “shared responsibility” to understand the ongoing impacts of the schools on survivors and their families, and to work to addressing these wrongs. To that end, he noted several programs the Government has implemented, including the appointment of an Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites and introducing new legislation to create a¬†National Council for Reconciliation.

What Quebec’s Election Could Mean for Canada

Quebeckers headed to the polls today to elect the new members of their province’s legislature, the National Assembly. While results have yet to be released, recent polling shows the governing Coalition Avenir Qu√©bec (CAQ), led by current premier¬†Fran√ßois Legault, cruising to an easy victory. The final projection from¬†338Canada¬†has the CAQ winning a comfortable 39% of the vote, which translates to 77% of legislative seats.

In an article published in¬†CTV News¬†last month, political scientist Daniel B√©land, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada and frequent Berkeley Canadian Studies collaborator, spoke to some potential national effects of this election. Legault and the CAQ have worked to increase Quebec’s autonomy from the federal government, and the party has opposed many of Trudeau’s policies. While a CAQ victory is all but assured,¬†B√©land says the margins are important: a strong victory would “not be good news for Justin Trudeau.”

A particular point of contention between Trudeau and Legault is immigration. Legault has vocally opposed the Liberals’ target of¬†430,000 immigrants per year, equal to about 1% of Canada’s total population. Liberal policymakers argue that immigration is necessary to sustain the Canadian economy. Last quarter, Canada saw its highest quarterly¬†population growth¬†since 1957, 95% of which was due to international migration.

Legault calls the Liberals’ policies “extreme”, and has promised to limit Quebec’s acceptance of new immigrants to 50,000 people per year. In¬†controversial comments, the premier suggested that increasing levels of non-Francophone immigrants would damage “social cohesion” and threaten Qu√©b√©cois culture. Opponents called his words “divisive” and “hurtful”, and accused the CAQ of weaponizing anti-immigrant sentiment for politics. The CAQ immigration minister recently¬†apologized¬†after being criticized for falsely stating that “80% of immigrants… don’t work, don’t speak French, and don’t adhere to the values of Quebec.”

Other opponents worry about how the CAQ’s push for autonomy extends to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Some high-profile laws sponsored by the current government have been accused of violating the Charter, notably Bill 21, which instituted a ban on the wearing of religious symbols by state employees, and Bill 96, which expanded the scope of French language laws. While these laws are mostly popular in Quebec, they have been harshly criticized from other parts of Canada, as well as by Quebec’s English-speaking and religious minorities. They are nevertheless exempt from review by the Canadian Supreme Court due to the National Assembly invoking Section 33 of the Charter (the Notwithstanding Clause). This clause, unique to Canadian law, allows a province to suspend fundamental rights for a limited period, which can be renewed indefinitely.

In the CTV article, human rights lawyer and McGill professor Pearl Eliadis decried this move as a “unilateral attempt… to change our fundamental Charter and constitutional values.” She warns that if this practice becomes commonplace, the Charter will soon lose its relevance in Canadian law and society. This was the case for several years after the passage of the charter in the 1980s, when the Parti Qu√©b√©cois invoked the clause for every piece of legislation they passed to ensure that no law could be challenged based on Charter rights. A CAQ government will likely continue to employ the Notwithstanding Clause.

Image: François Legault. Source: Lea-Kim Chateauneuf, Wikimedia Commons.

Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
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Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley, 213 Moses Hall #2308, Berkeley, CA 94720

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