CBW ENFebruary 6, 2019 | Writing our Way to Freedom: Commemoration for the Congress of Black Writers

In 1968, in the midst of the Quiet Revolution when radical ideas were being debated in classrooms, cafés, and factories across the city, Black Caribbean university students at McGill and Sir George Williams along with members of Montreal’s Black community organized the Congress of Black Writers. For four days, those attending the McGill event grappled with the ongoing consequences of colonialism and the afterlife of slavery for people of African descent.

Over 50 years later, we gathered again at McGill to commemorate this historic event and explore the multitude of ways that Black people continue to fight for justice using their voice and their words as they write their way to freedom. This event, taking place at the McGill Faculty Club, featured a panel of 4 excellent speakers including Senator Anne Cools, Mr. Rodney Saint-ÉloiMs. Elena Stoodley and Dr. Dorothy Williams, and was moderated by Ms. Pat Dillon-Moore. The speakers each had a chance to look back on the Commemoration and then join in on a discussion of the past, present, and future of Black resilience, resistance and power.


Language BIFebruary 22, 2019 | The Challenges of Coexistence: Language Policy in Canada

Much has been written recently about language policy in Canada, in light of political developments in provinces like New Brunswick and Ontario, the 50th Anniversary of the Official Languages Act and the announced recognition of Indigenous languages in Canada. The objective of this Symposium was to discuss language policy in Canada, with a particular emphasis on language minorities. The event focused on Canada’s two official languages and their fate at the federal and provincial levels while also bringing to the fore issues related to other languages present in Canada, including Indigenous languages.

Following a short introduction, a first panel provided retrospective insights on official (and non-official or not-yet official) languages in Canada (i.e. a sort of “lay of the land” from the perspective of various language groups). A second panel, then looked forward, taking a more prospective approach. It aimed to facilitate a conversation about the co-existence of Canada’s Official Languages with the recognition of Indigenous languages, and arguably of the country’s rich linguistic diversity.

This event was fully bilingual, and included simultaneous interpretation.

March 21 & 22, 2019 | MISC's 24th Annual Conference: Federalism and Canada's Shifting Political Landscape

On March 21st and 22nd, MISC hosted it's 24th Annual Conference, featuring 9 different panels that discussed several different issues facing today's Canadians, and how they relate to federalism and our shifting political landscape. Hosted in collaboration with the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP), the objective of this year’s conference was to improve our understanding of how recent and forthcoming provincial elections and other ongoing political trends are likely to impact federalism, intergovernmental relations and public policy in Canada. More specifically, the conference addressed the following questions: First, how are recent and forthcoming elections in provinces like Alberta, BC, Ontario, and Quebec and related political trends likely to impact debates over crucial policy issues ranging from trade, energy policy, and environmental protection to immigration, and Indigenous affairs? Second, how will public opinion and the media shape these debates and, more broadly, the future of Canadian federalism? Third, what is the potential impact of these intergovernmental debates on the next federal elections and public policy in Canada?

For more information on the conference and its participants, you can visit the event's page here. Pictures can be viewed here and video clips of the conference and all the panels can be found here

March 26, 2019 | The Winter 2019 Eakin Lecture, Counteracting Erasure and 'Unvisibility': Expressions of Black Identity in Contemporary American and Canadian Fiction 

Ralph Ellison suggests that the unnamed protagonist of his 1952 novel has become an "invisible man" simply by being a black man in the United States of his time. Canadian feminist scholar Katherine McKittrick contends in her 2006 book Demonic Grounds: Black Women and the Cartographies of Struggle that the state Ellison's protagonist experiences is better described as "unvisibility," a condition that renders him an an “imperceptible social, political, and geographic subject." She goes on to argue that contemporary black Canadians face a similar condition. For the Winter 2019 Eakin Lecture on March 26th, Professor Derek C. Maus comparatively discussed works by three pairs of contemporary African-American and black Canadian authors – Percival Everett and Andre Alexis, Dany Laferrière and Jesmyn Ward, Colson Whitehead and Esi Edugyan – and examined the ways in which they resist and overthrow the cultural forces that erase or otherwise contribute to the "unvisibility" of black identity in North America. For more information on the lecture, visit the event's page here. To view photos of the event, click here

April 3, 2019 | The Winter 2019 Mallory Lecture, Canada's Climate Impasse: A Way Forward

Hewers of wood, drawers of water and emitters of...hot air?

Canadians consistently state that environmental issues, including action on climate change, are a priority for them. Canadian governments consistently fail to meet our international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While they took very different paths, all arrived at the same result: increased GHG production in Canada. Did Stephen Harper really believe that Kyoto was a « socialist plot »? When Justin Trudeau proclaimed « Canada is back » at the Paris climate conference, how could Canadians know that he was back with Stephen Harper's plan, targets and timeline? Does Maxime Bernier really believe that CO2 is just plant food and therefore cannot be considered pollution? Why is the NDP opposed to oil pipelines as a matter of principle but in favour of gas pipelines? Thomas Mulcair's contribution to the Winter 2019 Mallory Lecture focused on the smoke screens used in Canadian politics, the climate reality that we are in and the different policy solutions that we should already be adopting. Fore more information on the lecture, visit the event's page here. Pictures of the event can be viewed here, and the recording of the lecture can be found here

October 15, 2019 | Perspectives on the 2019 Federal Elections 

MISC partnered with The Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship to present a panel of experts to discuss the Canadian Federal Elections prior to the vote on October 21, 2019. The panel featured Claire DurandAllison Harell, MISC's Eakin Fellow Melanee Thomas and was moderated by the Dean of Arts, Antonia Maioni. The speakers discussed the parties' respective campaigns, as well their predictions for the election.

To watch the recording of the panel, click here. To see images from the event, click here


Fall 2019 | MISC Brown Bag Series

The MISC Brown Bag Lecture series is a new project that will feature McGill and other Montreal-area scholars in the humanities and the social sciences working on research projects about Canada.

MISC will be hosting six of these lectures over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year (three per semester). The lectures will take place once a month, around the lunch hour in MISC’s conference room (Ferrier 105), and will be open to McGill faculty and students as well as any interested members of the general public. Each speaker will be speaking about a new or completed research project by emphasizing key ideas or findings to their audience. The MISC Brown Bag series will allow speakers to put forward novel research ideas that will improve our understanding of the past, present and/or future of Canada.

Session 1 - Dr. Jarrett Rudy

"Towards a History of Time-Telling in Lower Canada and Quebec, 1840-1970"

The standardization of time has long been part of Canada’s national mythology. For many Canadians, Sandford Fleming’s efforts to bring standard time to fruition put Canada into the international spotlight. This paper briefly re-examines the myth of Sandford Fleming as father of standard time in asking the broader question: how did people in Lower Canada and Quebec come to agree on one notion of time based on a clock? To answer this question, this paper argues it is necessary to understand both the ways in which time was institutionalized in daily life and the strengths and weaknesses of the technologies used to tell time. 

For more information, click here

Session 2 - Dr. Amélie Quesnel-Vallée

"Canada, Québec, and the Public-Private Healthcare Debate in Canadian Provinces" 

This presentation will discuss the interplay between public and private health care in Quebec, links with the Canada Health Act, and what we might learn from the Quebec case to understand current challenges to the public system in British Columbia. 

For more information, click here and to view her presentation, click here

Session 3 - Professor Erin Hurley

“Who Knew? English-language drama and theatre in Québec”

My current research aims to document and analyse the history of English-language theatre in Quebec (1930-2010), an often overlooked minority-language expressive and artistic practice. This sector is interesting not only for its aesthetics and the range of people, venues, institutions, and texts of which it is composed. The story of English-language drama and theatre in Quebec is also compelling for the ways in which it has reflected the changing status and institutional support of anglophone Quebecers. In this talk, I will present some key moments in this history from 1930 to 2000 – including a blockbuster musical produced by McGill students – and highlight the ways in which the changing place and role of this official-minority language group affected its drama and theatre. Such issues occasion a reflection on the role and purpose of theatre in society broadly, and its potential contributions to community vitality more locally.

For more information, click here

Fall 2019 | The Documentary Film Series 

MISC is partnering with SSMU's Peel St Cinema to present the Documentary Film Series. This series consists of two film screenings per semester, pertaining to important issues that affect Canadians. The topics of the movies will include Indigenous Rights, Quebec Culture, Black History and Culture, and finally Climate Change.

Each Screening will be followed by a talk featuring an expert on the topic presented in the film. Audiences will be encouraged to share their points of view during these discussions.

Screening 1 - Trick or Treaty

The first screening will take place on September 24, at 7:30PM at 3475 Peel Street. The movie, presented by the National Film Board, will be Alanis Obomsawin's Trick or Treaty and our guest speaker will be Melissa Mollen Dupuis of the David Suzuki Foundation. For more information, click here

Screening 2 - The Devil's Share/La part du diable 

The second screening will take place on November 19, at 7:30PM at 3475 Peel Street. The movie, presented by the National Film Board, will be Luc Bourdon's The Devil's Share (screening will be French with English sub-titles) and our guest speaker will be Dr. Will Straw of McGill University. For more information, click here

November 21, 2019 | The Fall 2019 Eakin Lecture, Balancing "Competing" Interests: How Albertans Think about Energy Transition

During the 2019 federal election, while some Canadians demonstrated unprecedented concern about the environment, others presented action on the environment as an “existential” threat to economic prosperity, particularly for provinces like Alberta. In this semester’s Eakin Lecture, Visiting Fellow Melanee Thomas will present a research-based argument for why it is in Canada’s, and particularly Alberta’s interest to seriously plan for transitioning away from fossil fuels. Her project will examine who is most (and least) likely to be part of a conversation about the need for transition, and how malleable their opinions are. What makes people supportive of energy transition, from fossil fuels toward more renewable sources of energy?

For more information on Melanee Thomas' Lecture, click here. To watch the recording of her lecture, click here. The slides used during the presentation are also available: PDF icon Fall 2019 Eakin Lecture Slides

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