Former Governor General Michaëlle Jean will deliver the keynote address at the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA) inaugural international conference at Brock University later this month.
The theme of the three-day event that starts on May 24 is: “Where are you from? Reclaiming the Black Presence in Canada.”
Jean, the University of Ottawa chancellor, will speak about the value of advancing Black Studies in Canada and its importance for intercultural dialogue and understanding.
Nearly 60 international academic researchers, educational practitioners and scholars will present papers on a broad range of topics.
“This conference has its genesis in a meeting of Black Studies scholars that I organized in 2009 at Simon Fraser University with a follow-up meeting a year later at the University of Alberta chaired by Professor Jennifer Kelly,” said Dr. Afua Cooper, the BCSA co-chair and the James Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University. “This historic conference recovers and celebrates diverse branches of Black knowledge that previously have been subjugated and places Black Canadian Studies at the cutting edge of Canadian scholarship.”
BCSA secretary and conference organizer, Tamari Kitossa, said the event is critical for promoting research and sharing knowledge about the diversity and complexity of the Black Canadian experience.
“African-Canadians have for centuries contributed significantly to the enrichment of the Canadian experience and the development of Canada,” he said. “The African-Canadian presence is treated ambivalently, moving from reluctant recognition to erasure from the national memory. More often than not, African-Canadians are framed as ‘newcomers” or worse, seen as a ‘social problem’. This conference has implications to clarify these kinds of public misconceptions and more positively affect public policy in Canada.”