New Hildebrand Fellow studies Canadian art; Trudeau and Biden’s controversial immigration move

A newsletter from a fellow Canadian organization in the Bay Area.

Canadian Studies Announcements

In This Issue:

Upcoming Events

  • “Fragility and Resilience: Climate Change and Arctic Archaeology”

Program News

  • New Hildebrand Fellow, Madeleine Morris, studies work of Canadian conceptual artist Joyce Wieland

US-Canada Relations

  • Trudeau and Biden make common cause in Ottawa
  • Trudeau and Biden toughen enforcement of law limiting asylum claims in Canada

External Events

  • “A New Horizon of Opportunity: Canada in the Indo-Pacific”
  • “Meeting Global Skills and Talent Needs in Changing Labor Markets”
  • “Why Canada Matters Speaker Series: Dr. Andrea Geiger”


If you require an accommodation to fully participate in an event, please let us know at least 10 days in advance.

Fragility and Resilience: Climate Change and Arctic Archaeology

Wed., April 5 | 12:30 pm PT | 223 Philosophy | RSVP

The human history of the North American Arctic has been a cycle of expansions and contractions, of mobility and migration, and of fragility and resilience. Archaeology brings a long-term perspective to the relationship between humans and the arctic environment. More recently, however, the face of archaeological research and knowledge production has undergone rapid change, particularly in the past decade. Just as geneticists and isotopic chemists have discovered the wealth of information locked in the archaeological record of the arctic, these formerly frozen sites are rapidly melting or eroding into the sea. In addition, Inuit scholars and communities are redefining their relationship with archaeology and archaeologists. Based on the author’s own field work, this talk focuses on the historical ecology of Smith Sound at the northern edge of what is now Canada and Greenland. New questions and new methods have enhanced our understanding of a place that exemplifies both isolation and long-distance social bonds, precariousness and resilience.

Note: The speaker will share artifacts from excavations in Greenland at the in-person presentation.

About the Speaker

Dr. Christyann Darwent is a professor of anthropology at UC Davis. She is originally from Calgary, where she completed her undergraduate degree in archaeology and undertook her first of several field seasons in the Canadian High Arctic 30 years ago. After receiving her M.A. at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, she started her career at UC Davis in 2001. Since then, she has conducted NSF-sponsored archaeological excavations in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska and Inglefield Land, Greenland. For the past decade her lab has also been conducting archaeological research near the Native village of Shaktoolik in Norton Sound, Alaska. In addition to studies of past subsistence practices and social organization among Inuit, Inughuit, Inupiaq, and Yup’ik occupants of the Arctic over the past 1000 years, she has published on the history of Inuit sled dogs using ancient and modern DNA.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Archaeological Research Facility (ARF).


New Hildebrand Fellow, Madeleine Morris, Studies Work of Canadian Conceptual Artist Joyce Wieland

Canadian Studies is pleased to introduce Madeleine Morris as the recipient of an Edward Hildebrand Graduate Research Fellowship for Summer 2023.

Madeleine is a first-year Ph.D. student in the history of art specializing in twentieth century art of North America, with an emphasis on folk art and modernism of the United States. The Hildebrand Fellowship will facilitate Madeleine’s research on pioneering Canadian nationalist artist Joyce Wieland (1930-1998). Promoting unity between Francophone and Anglophone Canada while maintaining critical distance through absurdist humor, Wieland’s work interrogates US economic and ecological interference in Canada through a feminist and ecocritical lens, utilizing unconventional mediums like textile and olfactory art. Madeleine’s research will closely analyze the artworks and archival documentation of Wieland’s 1971 landmark exhibition True Patriot Love, housed in several Canadian cultural institutions in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto. Analyzing Wieland serves as a means to consider North American art across national and temporal borders, focusing on Canada-United States relations and dialogues around national identity between the interwar period and 1960s-1970s.

Before beginning her Ph.D. program, Madeleine received her B.A. in studio art and Italian from Vassar College in 2014 and her M.A. in the history of art and archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University in 2022.


Trudeau and Biden Make Common Cause in Ottawa

US president Joe Biden and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau met in Ottawa last week as President Biden made his first visit to Canada of his presidency. The President was warmly greeted by the Prime Minister, as well as by ordinary Canadians, in what officials described as a “productive” and positive visit.

The trip was the first visit by a US president to the country since 2017, and Biden was clearly eager to affirm the importance of the US-Canada relationship. In a speech to Parliament, Biden declared that the United States has “no better partner” than its northern neighbor. He pointed to the two nation’s shared goals and values and historically close ties, to repeated applause from attending MPs and guests.

As part of the visit, the two leaders issued a joint statement committed to joint action in seven key areas, including clean energy; economic integration; protection of natural resources; advancing diversity; promoting global alliances; and coordinating joint hemispheric defense efforts.

Both countries agreed to increase defense spending following recent provocations from Russia and China. The US has heavily lobbied Canada to increase defense spending to the 2% NATO minimum. Both leaders condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and pledged their complete support for the Ukrainian government. Trudeau also announced an increase and acceleration of investment in modernizing NORAD, a binational radar system that monitors aerial threats. The announcements follows the much-criticized handling of the Chinese spy balloon incident, and at a time when both countries are experiencing frostier relations with China (including an ongoing scandal over alleged Chinese government interference in Trudeau’s own Liberal Party).

The US also pledged billions in investments in Canada’s semiconductor industry, in a bid to strengthen self-sufficiency in that critical sector. The move envisions the creation of a North American “chip corridor”, making the region less reliant on foreign sources for crucial materials and creating thousands of good-paying jobs.

Also on the agenda was the crisis in Haiti. US officials have tried to convince Canada to lead an international force to restore order in the failing country, but Canadian leaders are hesitant to do so. The issue was again raised when the leaders discussed ways to manage increasing levels of regional migration, which has been expedited by Haiti’s collapse.

In terms of the environment, Canada and the US pledged further investment in clean energy projects in both countries, and emphasized their commitment to achieve net-zero national power grids by 2035. A major new development was a pledge to increase spending to improve water quality in the Great Lakes, which serves as a source of drinking water for millions of people in both countries. They also agreed to work towards modernizing the Columbia River Treaty. This has been a long-running discussion between the two governents, and Canadian Studies hosted a conference that issued a set of policy recommendations in 2017.

Image source: US Government.

Trudeau and Biden Toughen Enforcement of Law Limiting Asylum Claims in Canada

Prime Minister Trudeau announced a major change to a controversial US-Canada refugee agreement during President Biden’s visit to Ottawa last week.

The deal, which was worked out last year but only announced Friday, would expand Canada’s ability to deport asylum seekers to the United States under the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). In exchange, Canada agreed to accept an additional 15,000 migrants from the Latin America and the Caribbean per year.

The STCA was enacted between the US and Canada in 2004, and requires that any person claiming refugee status must make the claim in the first country they arrive in. Under the terms of the agreement, officials at US-Canada border posts will turn back asylum seekers who attempt to cross. While the agreement applies to both countries, the number of asylum-seekers attempting to enter Canada is far greater than those headed the other way, as Canada is seen as more friendly to refugee claims.

However, in a major oversight, the original agreement only applied to official ports of entry. No provision was made for migrants who crossed the border illegally. While entering Canada this way is illegal, asylum seekers could nevertheless claim asylum and have their deportation proceedings halted while the claim was processed. The new deal closes this loophole. With few exceptions, any migrant who makes an asylum claim within 14 days of crossing into Canada from the US by land will now be deported back to the United States, and will lose the ability to make future claims in Canada.

The deal is just one of several of similar immigration policies Biden has announced in recent months, but revising the STCA has also been a priority for Trudeau. While Canada has historically been friendlier towards asylum claims, in recent years irregular migration has become more politically charged as the total number of migrants has increased. Government statistics show that from October to December 2022, over 8,000 asylum claims were made by irregular border crossers. The Roxham Road crossing between New York and Quebec has received particular notoriety, due to its unusually high volume of irregular crossings. An estimated 40,000 people crossed in 2022, and many as 5,000 more in January alone. Quebec provincial leaders have claimed they do not have the capacity to handle the increasing number of asylum claims, and federal officials have felt increasing political pressure to close the crossing.

Both the Trudeau and Biden governments praised the new deal, which they say will make immigration safer and discourage dangerous illegal crossings after two migrants froze to death in two months. However, opponents claim that closing Roxham Road will only cause a humanitarian catastrophe, by encouraging migrants to take even riskier, more isolated routes. Additionally, the 14-day window for deportation will only drive migrants underground and increase smuggling activity. And they note that Trudeau’s acceptance of 15,000 additional refugees per year covers only around 40% of the people that crossed at Roxham alone.

Opponents of the deal hope that it may prove be short-lived, as it takes place against the background of ongoing legal challenges to the Safe Third Country Agreement. Since its inception, the STCA has been criticized by immigration advocates and human rights groups in Canada. Opponents have filed numerous legal challenges to the law, asserting that the way US prosecutes immigration enforcement makes the country unsafe for asylum seekers and that migrants have a human right to seek a better life in Canada.

A 2007 challenge found initial success before being overturned by a higher court. Canada’s Federal Court again ruled in favor of suspending the agreement in 2020, determining that it violated the right to “life, liberty, and security of the person” in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The decision cited the likelihood of detention for asylum claimants sent back to the United States, as well as the risk of deportation to their home country. Canadian Studies hosted a discussion of this decision shortly after it was announced, featuring Audrey Macklin, an expert in human rights law from the University of Toronto, and Berkeley Law professor Leti Volpp.

Like before, the decision was again overturned the following year after an appeal by the Trudeau government, which insisted that the United States was a “safe country” as defined in international refugee law. This time, however, the case has advanced to the Canadian Supreme Court, with a ruling pending for an undetermined date.

In the meantime, the new, stricter policy took effect early Saturday morning. The news has been slow to spread, as Roxham Road remains busy with migrants who may not have yet heard about the change. Stéphanie Valois, president of the Quebec Association of Immigration Lawyers (AQAADI), worries that migrants may be unaware of the risk they now take in crossing irregularly. While in the past they may have expected to claim asylum on arrest, they now face deportation and losing the right to make an asylum claim in Canada ever again.

“I’m disappointed that two political leaders who cast themselves as progressive centrists are turning their backs on asylum-seekers,” says Canadian Studies program director Irene Bloemraad, a sociologist specializing in immigration. “Canada has already committed to an expansion in the number of newcomers they plan to welcome; they could easily shift the proportion of those immigrant spots given to refugees and asylees.”

Image: Migrant woman enters Roxham Road crossing. Author: Daniel Case on Wikimedia Commons.


A New Horizon of Opportunity: Canada in the Indo-Pacific

Thurs., March 30 | 6:00 pm PT | San Francisco, CA | Buy tickets

The Indo-Pacific is rapidly becoming the global center of economic dynamism and strategic challenge. Encompassing 40 economies, more than 4 billion people and more than one-third of all economic activity worldwide—what happens in the region will play a critical role in shaping the future of the international order.

Join the Consulate General of Canada at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco for a thought-provoking discussion examining the role and significance of Canada’s enhanced engagement in building a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable Indo-Pacific region. Consul General Rana Sarkar and Dr. Yves Tiberghien, professor of political science, Konwakai Chair in Japanese Research, and director of the Center for Japanese Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, will hold a fireside chat exploring this new horizon of opportunity, as well as the importance of the Bay Area as an international cultural, commercial and financial hub and vital gateway to the Indo-Pacific region. The discussion will be moderated by Ian McCuaig, chair of Asia-Pacific Affairs Forum for the Commonwealth Club of California.

Tickets are available to attend either in person or online.

Meeting Global Skills and Talent Needs in Changing Labor Markets

Tuesday, April 11 | 7:00 am PT | Online | RSVP

As demographic pressures, technological advances, economic shifts, and pandemic disruptions rapidly reshape labor markets in the United States and globally, the resulting labor shortages and skills gaps are sparking conversations about the role that immigration could serve.

On April 11, join the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) for a discussion with senior policymakers and other experts to the extent to which labor market needs should shape future immigration policy decisions, and how countries are adjusting – and could adjust – their immigration systems to meet human capital and competitiveness needs. Participants will include Christiane Fox, Deputy Minister for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada.

Why Canada Matters Speaker Series: Dr. Andrea Geiger

Friday, April 14 | 10:00 am PT | Online | RSVP

Western Washington University’s Center for Canadian-American Studies continues their “Why Canada Matters” speaker series with a talk from historian Andrea Geiger. Dr. Geiger will discuss her book, Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, which examines the role of the North Pacific borderlands along the northernmost stretches of U.S.-Canada border that divide Alaska from the Yukon and British Columbia, as well as those that follow the contours of the B.C. and Alaska coast, in the construction of race and citizenship in both the United States and Canada. She will speak to the intersecting nature of the race-based legal constraints imposed by Canada and the United States on Japanese immigrants and Indigenous people in this borderlands region, arguing for the importance of giving Canada an equal place in our studies of both transpacific and borderlands history.

Andrea Geiger is professor emerita of history at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia. Her most recent book is Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, 1867-1945. Dr. Geiger spoke to Canadian Studies at Berkeley about her book last semester.

Canadian Studies Program
213 Moses Hall #2308
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Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley213 Moses Hall #2308Berkeley, CA 94720

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