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Black Excellence: A Heritage to Celebrate; a Future to Build

Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month events and festivities that honour the legacy of Black people in Canada and their communities.

The events listed below are presented by various departments and schools across the University of Calgary campus to celebrate Black Canadians' many achievements, contributions and communities. Throughout history, Black Canadians have done so much to make Canada the culturally diverse, compassionate, and prosperous nation it is today. All registration details for each event are listed below.
Lucie and Thornton Blackburn

Lucie and Thornton Blackburn, courageous freedom seekers who narrowly escaped slavery in the United States and found refuge in Canada.

2024 Changemakers Series

Compiled by the Faculty of Social Work Anti-Black Racism Committee. Illustrations by Ginette Crichlow. 

Canada has a rich history of inspiring Black individuals who shattered barriers and broke through the black ceiling. Join us as we learn more about some of these remarkable figures in Canadian history this Black History Month.

Join us to celebrate, create, learn, share and connect!


Collage of book covers courtesy of UCalgary Library

Image courtesy of Libraries & Cultural Resources | University of Calgary

UCalgary Libraries and Cultural Resources - Black History Month Featured Collection

This featured collection, created by UCalgary Library staff, curates and celebrates books, music, art, theatre, film, poetry and archival materials by and about Black people, culture and history in Canada, the U.S. and beyond.


Rwanda

The Republic of Rwanda | ’The Land of a Thousand Hills’ | Africa

Getty Images

‘I Don’t Tell You My Story to Make You Feel Sorry for Me’

April 7, 2024, marks 30 years since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It’s a milestone that reminds survivor Dr. Régine Uwibereyeho King, PhD, of the commitment she made to help others and stem violence through courageous storytelling.

‘I Don’t Tell You My Story to Make You Feel Sorry for Me’
Written by Jacquie Moore, BA ‘97
arch magazine - The University of Calgary Inside and Out


Black History Month Movies and Short Films

Black History Month Movies and Short Films 

These films are presented by the Students' Union at UCalgary.

The Students’ Union is hosting a day of inspiring feature-length films and National Film Board (NFB) short films in honour of Black History Month. The selections include;

 

Thursday, February 8, 2024
10.00 a.m., 12.15 p.m. and 1 p.m.
That Empty Space (lower level, MacEwan Student Centre) 


Dr. Carl E. James, Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University where he is also the Equity Advisor to the Dean

Dr. Carl E. James, Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora, and Equity Advisor to the Dean, Faculty of Education | York University

  Professor  Werklund School of Education  Associate Professor  Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry  SSHRC CRC II in Creativity in STEM Education  Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry

Dr. Jennifer D. Adams, Professor, Werklund School of Education | Associate Professor, Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry | SSHRC CRC II in Creativity in STEM Education, Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry | University of Calgary

Black students taking space & creating structures for successful advancement through education

This session is presented by the Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre (ACLRC).

Black people in North America have faced historical inequities in schooling that account for their underrepresentation in particular educational paths – most notably, the STEM fields – which, in turn, accounts for their lack of economic mobility. As such, the society misses out on the potential educational, social, economic and scientific contributions that could emerge from Black minds. And since educational institutions have been slow to change, Black students have, in response, come together to create spaces for thriving. In this panel presentation, we will discuss the ways in which Black students worked to realize their aspirational goals with the support of educational sponsors.

 

Thursday, February 8, 2024
12.00 p.m. - 1.45 p.m. MT
Virtual

Please register by Monday, February 5, 2024 by 5.00 p.m. MT

Carl E. James holds the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University where he is also the Equity Advisor to the Dean; and for 3 years before, he was the Senior Advisor on Equity and Representation in the Office of the Vice President of Equity, People & Culture. In addition to teaching in the Faculty of Education, Carl holds cross-appointments in the Graduate Programs in Sociology, Social and Political Thought, and Social Work. He has served as Affirmative Action, Equity & Inclusivity Officer (2006-2020); was the founding Director of the York Centre on Education & Community (2008-2016), and Director of the Graduate Program in Sociology (2007-2008). A Distinguished Research Professor, James is known for his mentorship of students and colleagues.

A former youth and community worker, Carl holds a PhD in Sociology and is widely recognized nationally and internationally for his research contributions in the areas of race, racialization, racism, and inequity as they affect the educational, social, athletic, occupational and health experiences of Black community members. Building on this premise, his work explores the ways in which accessible and equitable opportunities in education and employment account for the lived experiences of racialized – particularly Black – community members; the limits to the Canada’s multiculturalism and its promise of equity; the complementary and contradictory nature of sports in the schooling and educational attainments of Black youth; and the health situation and related access to healthcare of Black community members. In advocating for systemic changes in schooling and education, Carl brings attention to the difficulties, obstacles, and barriers that stifle the interests, expectations, ambitions, and dreams of Black youth at all levels of the education system in Canada. He has also researched and written on the experiences of Caribbean peoples in Canada, as well as on the education and inter-island migration patterns and experiences of people in the Caribbean.

As the Jean Augustine Chair, James works on programs which serve to support the journeying and transition experiences of Black students from their early schooling years through to graduation from high school and postsecondary institutions. One such program is Securing Black Futures in which, with RBC funding, he collaborates with colleagues from McMaster University, Dalhousie University, University of Calgary, University of British Columbia, Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) and University of Ottawa to enhance the university experiences of Black students; and in the case of elementary, middle and high school students, partner with schools and community organizations on initiatives geared towards high school graduation and the possibilities of obtaining postsecondary education. A particular area of interest is increasing Black youth’s interest in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM).

Jennifer D. Adams is a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair of Creativity and Science and Professor at The University of Calgary, Department of Chemistry, affiliated with the Werklund School of Education.

She is the PI of the Creativity, Equity and STEM Lab, where she and her team research equity in STEM teaching and learning environments, emphasizing identity-affirming, anti-deficit, and justice-oriented approaches. In addition, she is in leadership on several national projects, including “Securing Black Futures,” which seeks to increase the visibility and support the flourishing of Black students in STEM and the Canadian Black Scientists Network, where she is involved with a national data collection project about Black students’ STEM experiences, serves the steering committee as a co-leader on STEM education Pathways and Postsecondary projects and is the PI of the STEM Beyond Borders initiative that will examine research, policy and practice in Canada and the United States around equity and justice in STEM education and careers for Black students.

Dr. Adams was recognized by the Calgary Black Chambers with an award for Black Achievement in STEM. In addition, she is an NSF Early CAREER award winner. She has served on the executive board of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching and on advisories for NSF-funded grant projects that focus on racial and gender equity in STEM. She also serves on the editorial board for Cultural Studies in Science Education, Journal of Research in Science Education and International Journal of Informal Science and Environmental Learning. Her prior appointments include Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York, the American Museum of Natural History, and The New York City Department of Education.


Lunch & Learn: A Conversation with Torys LLP

Lunch & Learn: A Conversation with Torys LLP

Join Torys LLP and the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) for an engaging conversation about business development, as well as the diversity challenges and experiences encountered in the workplace. This event is open to all students, providing them with the opportunity to ask any burning questions they may have.

Stay tuned for more details about the event, including information about the special panelists who will be sharing their insights.

 

Thursday, February 8, 2024
12,00 p.m. MT 
In person - Murray Fraser Hall, Room 3330


A Conversation with CABL

A Conversation with CABL

Join CABL and the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) for an engaging conversation about how our internal and underlying biases, and how these can impact our workplace environments and everyday lives. 

This event is open to all students, providing them with the opportunity to ask any burning questions they may have. Stay tuned for more details about the event, including information about the special panelists who will be sharing their insights. 

 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024 
12.00 p.m. MT 
In person - Murray Fraser Hall, Room 3360


Jon Cornish

image courtesy of the Calgary Public Library

Black History Month: Jon Cornish “Power and Privilege in an Intersectional Life”

Presented by the Calgary Public Library in partnership with the Chinook Country Historical Society.

Join Jon Cornish as they unravel the complexities of their unique journey as a person of mixed heritage, navigating a world rife with stereotypes and misconceptions. They will highlight the intricate interplay of race, culture and geography in shaping identity while challenging the audience to re-examine their perceptions, biases and often-mistaken assumptions.

 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024
7 - 8:30 p.m. MT
Calgary Public Library
Level 1 - 1-03 - Patricia A. Whelan Performance Hall

 


Join us for the first ever Violet King Engaged Scholar Awards Ceremony

The first ever Violet King Engaged Scholar Award is a commitment to supporting outstanding Black, racialized and Indigenous students who have demonstrated both contributions to their community and leadership despite financial and other constraints. As a joint initiative between the Students' Union and the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the award recognizes and honours a Calgary trailblazer, Violet King, who is an inspiration to many as the first Black woman lawyer in Canada.  

Six engaged students were selected based on their contributions to their communities and their working to dismantle barriers to inclusion for others. Recipients include: Victory Abraham (Faculty of Arts), Misgana Abraha (Faculty of Science and Werklund School of Education), Pelumi Adeosun (Faculty of Arts), Tolu Adewole (Faculty of Nursing), Senait Yohannes (Faculty of Law), and Yvette Ysabel Yao (Cumming School of Medicine). 

Joining us at the ceremony will be Violet King’s only daughter, Ms. Jo-Anne Henry along with Jon Cornish, Chancellor, to announce the award recipients. The ceremony will be hosted by Dr. Malinda Smith, PhD, Vice-Provost (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) and Associate Vice-President Research (EDI).  A blessing will be offered from Elder Colleen Sitting Eagle. 

Ms. Jo-Anne Henry will also deliver a keynote speech about her mother following the awards ceremony.

Jo-Anne Henry

Ms. Jo-Anne Henry

Jo-Anne Henry

Ms. Jo-Anne Henry is the daughter of Violent King Henry and Godfrey Henry, who were both attorneys and spectacular parents. 

Ms. Henry is currently the Director of LEAD Strategic Impact at the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C.. Previously she has been in leadership positions in: District of Columbia Public Schools; DC’s Child Welfare system; the state of Georgia’s Child Welfare system; Director of a community-based child abuse prevention strategy called “Community Partnerships for Protecting Children”; and one of the 1st lawyers at an environmental justice pro bono law organization called “Alternatives for Community & Environment” (ACE). 

Ms. Henry received her J.D. degree from University of California, Berkeley’s School of Law; and her M.A. from Georgetown University’s School of Business. 

She currently resides in Washington DC with her teacher husband and their teen daughter, who wants to be a child psychologist when she gets older. 

Ms. Henry is thrilled with the ways her mother Violet has been and continues to be honoured; how her legacy still inspires; and how Violet’s historic trailblazing has been recognized.

Jon Cornish, Chancellor

Community leader and Canadian Football Hall of Famer Jon Cornish was elected the 15th chancellor of the University of Calgary, effective July 1, 2022. Cornish is most known for their legendary nine years as a member of the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League where they were selected as the top Canadian player for three years consecutively, Most Outstanding Player in 2013, only the second football player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete, and led their team to two Grey Cup championships. In recognition of their Kansas University football career, where they still hold numerous records, the Jon Cornish Trophy is awarded annually to the best Canadian NCAA Football player. 

During and after their football career, Cornish spent the last nine years in various wealth management roles, working as a consultant and was a part of a top-ranked private investment counsel wealth team. They are now an investment advisor and team lead at RBC Dominion Securities, where they are responsible for building relationships, providing wealth management guidance, and holistic, goal-oriented financial planning so their clients can realize their best lives. 

Cornish works with various non-profits and charities around Calgary, including many events as an emcee for the Alberta Children's Hospital, working directly with at-risk youth for Wood's Homes, and at the Calgary Foundation, where they serve on the Doc Seaman Hockey Fund. They also continue to work with the Calgary Stampeders as gameday ambassador. 

Cornish is president emeritus and founder of the Calgary Black Chambers, a non-profit working to make Calgary the best place to live and work for BIPOC people. The Calgary Black Chambers provided over $120,000 in scholarships to help university students and supported hundreds high school students with skill training to aid in their careers and life journeys over the last three years.

Malinda S. Smith, PhD, LLD (Hon) (She/Her) Vice Provost (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) and Associate Vice-President Research (EDI) Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (OEDI)

Dr. Malinda Smith is the inaugural Vice Provost and Associate Vice President of Research (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) and a full professor of political science at the University of Calgary. Prior to joining UCalgary, she was a full professor of political science at the University of Alberta, where she held various roles, including Provost Fellow (EDI Policy) in the Office of the Provost and Associate Chair (Graduate Studies) in the Department of Political Science.

Dr. Smith worked to advance an equitable and inclusive higher education for over 30 years. This work includes initiatives to create institutional cultures that build trust and support disaggregated EDI data, anti-racism, equity and human rights accountability, and initiatives to embed equitable and inclusive principles and practices in hiring and retention, research, and teaching and  learning. She has has served on numerous higher education governance committees, including Vice President (Equity Issues) for the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion External Review Committee for the Canada Research Chairs. Currently, she serves on SSHRC Governing Council and Executive; as Vice Chair of the Inter-Institutional Advisory Committee for the Scarborough Charter, on Statistics Canada’s Immigration and Ethnocultural Statistics Advisory Committee; and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s External EDI Advisory Board.

Dr. Smith is the coauthor, editor, or coeditor of 8 books, numerous articles, book chapters and reports and has given dozens of invited keynotes and public lectures in the areas of equity, diversity, human rights, and decolonization in higher education, African political economy, and international relations. Dr. Smith is the coauthor of The Equity Myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian Universities (2017); coeditor of Critical Concepts: An Introduction to Politics (OUP 2023); the Nuances of Blackness in the Canadian Academy (UofT Press, 2022); States of Race: Critical Race Feminism for the 21st Century (BTL 2010). and three books on Africa, including Securing Africa: Post-9/11 Discourses on Terrorism (2010).

Dr. Smith is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including Calgary Black Chambers’ Lifetime Achievement Award (2023), an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Simon Fraser University (2021), Compelling Calgarians (2021), the International Studies Association’s  Women’s Caucus’s Susan S. Northcutt Award (2020), 100 Accomplished Black Women Honouree (2020), the ISA-Canada Distinguished Scholar Award (2018-19), P.E. Trudeau Foundation Fellow (2018), the HSBC Community Contributor of the Year Award (2016); and the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ Equity Award  (2015).

Elder Colleen Sitting Eagle

Oki Niistowoak Siipiyanatohkomiaaki.
Kitohkanaiksimmatsimmohpowawa.

Elder Colleen Sitting Eagle has worked with young people all their working years in many different but similar aspects. From being a Youth Camp Coordinator,Youth Prevention Juvenile Counsellor, Crime prevention with Gleichen R.C.M.P. and Blackfoot Tribal Police, Researcher for Siksika Culture and Heritage to being a Language Teacher/Liaison for Siksika Schools.

Colleen learned her Siksika history from her late parents and the honour of working with knowledgeable elders. She was one of the first groups from Siksika to be integrated to start her schooling in Strathmore, AB. She previously attended and continues to take courses from the University of Calgary.

She is gifted with two beautiful children with loosing her son in 2022. She has six grandchildren ranging from 7-21 years old.

Dr. Terrell R. Morton

Dr. Terrell R. Morton, Assistant Professor, Identity and Justice in STEM Education, Educational Psychology | University of Illinois

Dr. Ti'Era Worsley

Dr. Ti'Era Worsley, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education (TED/HED) | University of North Carolina at Greensboro | UNCG

Freedom Dreaming: Affirming and Embracing the Creativity and Innovation of Black People in STEMM

This event is hosted in partnership with UCalgary Faculty of Science and the United States Consulate.

Come celebrate the brilliance and help untangle the challenges of racialized communities in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Medicine (STEMM)!

The event is open to racialized communities as well as allies from across campus and beyond.

Determination and Discovery will feature:

  • a keynote from Dr. Terrell Morton
  • a talk by Dr. Ti’Era Worsley
  • panels and dialogues about Black experiences in STEMM
  • a screening of Woman in Motion
  • lunch and networking session

 

Thursday, February 29, 2024
10 - 4:30 p.m. MT
MacEwan Hall Ballroom; 3rd Floor
Free 

Students, faculty, and staff are welcome to drop in and out as their class schedules allow.

Dr. Terrell R. Morton is an Assistant Professor of Identity and Justice in STEM Education in the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education. Dr. Morton graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a M.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Miami, and a Ph.D. in Education concentration Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies from UNC Chapel-Hill. Dr. Morton identifies as a Scholar-Activist! His research and work focus on identity as it informs the persistence and engagement of racialized and minoritized students in STEM postsecondary education. He draws from critical race theory, phenomenology, and human development to ascertain Black students’ consciousness and how it manifests in their various embodiments and actions that facilitate their STEM postsecondary engagements.

As a scholar-activist, Dr. Morton works to transform the positioning and understanding of Blackness in mainstream education, specifically STEM, seeking justice and joy for Black women, Black students, and other minoritized individuals given the social-cultural-political-historical positioning of their identities. He advocates for identity, justice, and joy to be fundamental for education. He also works to transform STEM learning environments, creating spaces that are recognized and understood as extensions of students’ identity rather than sites of oppression that perpetuate hostility and exclusion.

learn more

Dr. Worsley received a North Carolina Environmental Educator certification from the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). DEQ Secretary Michael Regan presented her with this award.

Worsley researches informal science education with middle-school aged youth in STEM. She works with historically marginalized youth in an informal makerspace at a local Boys and Girls Club and refugee center. “The EE Certification program has provided me the content knowledge to help bridge the gap of people’s perspectives about environmental education and building environmental literacy,” she says. “After participating in the certification program, I think about environmental issues with a diverse mindset.”

The EE Certification program is administered by the DEQ Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and encourages professional development in environmental education and acknowledges educators committed to environmental stewardship. This program establishes standards for professional excellence in environmental education for classroom teachers and non-formal educators.

In 1977, NASA struggled to recruit scientists, engineers and astronauts for their new Space Shuttle Program. That’s when Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, challenged NASA by asking the question: “Where are my people?” and embarks on a four-month campaign to recruit the first Black, Latino and Asian men and women to fly in space.

learn more

Woman in Motion - movie

Woman in Motion - Directed by Todd Thompson

United States Consulate General of Calgary

United States Consulate General of Calgary


Justice David St. Pierre

Justice St. Pierre, Justice of the Provincial Court of British Columbia (Port Coquitlam), UCalgary LLB, 1994

A Candid Conversation with Justice David St. Pierre

This session is presented by the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) of the University of Calgary.

Join Justice David St. Pierre and the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) for a candid conversation. Justice St. Pierre will explore his approach to judicial decision-making and how it aligns with the pursuit of racial equity, as well as the challenges and successes in promoting fairness within the legal system. 

This will be a forward-looking discussion on the future of racial justice within the legal system, exploring potential reforms and improvements. 

 

Thursday, February 29, 2024
1:30 p.m. MT
Zoom

Judge David St. Pierre put himself through school, in part, by playing guitar in a band. When he was about 18, he was arrested for allegedly being in possession of a “prohibited weapon”: St. Pierre had just come off the stage at a big show and was wearing a studded wristband.

It was then determined—of course—that a studded wristband was not a prohibited weapon and the charges were eventually dismissed. However, the event made clear to St. Pierre the immensity of the power of the state to interfere with one’s liberties, and beyond that, the fact that it was his lawyer who was essentially the only one checking those powers. “I thought that if I could do that work someday, it would be very important work.”

St. Pierre attended the University of Alberta to get his undergraduate degree in psychology, but then took some time off before going to law school. In that time, he worked as a musician, and music still plays a significant role in his life. After a few years as a professional musician, St. Pierre attended the University of Calgary Law School. While at law school, St. Pierre participated in the students’ legal advice program, helped to found the Black Law Students’ Association of Canada, and was part of a task force that was drafting human rights legislation in Alberta. After getting his law degree, St. Pierre practiced criminal law in Vancouver.

In 2009, St. Pierre stepped into the role of judge, welcoming the great challenge of being an impartial adjudicator after being an advocate for 15 years. St. Pierre, Justice Selwyn Romilly, Matthew Nathanson, and two anonymous donors established the St. Pierre, Romilly, Nathanson Entrance Award in Law for Black Students. 


Dr. Charmaine Nelson

Dr. Charmaine Nelson, Provost Professor of Art History | Department of History of Art and Architecture and Director of the Slavery North Initiative | University of Massachusetts

Slavery, Mobility, and the Creolized Counter-Knowledge of Resistance

The African Studies program in collaboration the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI), the Department of Art & Art History, & the Faculty of Arts Dean Office invites you to delve into the intricate web of Slavery, Mobility, and the Creolized Counter-Knowledge of Resistance as Dr. Charmaine Nelson explores a pivotal historical moment through the lens of an intriguing fugitive slave advertisement from the Quebec Gazette dated May 3, 1767.

On the 3rd of May 1767, a man named Andrew described as a “Mulatto Negro Slave” was listed in a fugitive slave advertisement in the Quebec Gazette. According to James Crofton, the white enslaver who arranged for the notice to be printed, the twenty-tree year old Maryland-born Andrew was remarkable “for being clean dress’d” (sic) and speaking four languages, but also because he was suspected of having with him “forged Certificates of his Freedom, and Passes.” 

Advertisements like the one placed for Andrew are not unusual in the understudied landscape of Canadian Slavery. The enslaved black communities of the regions that would become Canada, suffered (like their fellow bondspeople in southern, more tropical sites) the direct control of their mobility by their enslavers. However, in a world where individual enslaved people came to be associated with specific white citizens, the nature of their slave minority status also made daily surveillance from the broader and dominantly white populations routine. 

This lecture adopts an extended conceptualization of creolization – the transformation of cultures, societies, and populations within the context of the contact between Europeans, enslaved Africans, and colonized and enslaved Indigenous peoples in the Americas – to explore the intersection of and conflicts between knowledge production, enslaved mobility, and anti-slavery solidarity. The very fugitive advertisements which asserted white dominance also became frequent sites of the representation of what Dr. Nelson wishes to call a creolized counter-knowledge of the enslaved black communities which demonstrated their awareness, analysis and insight into white behaviour, customs, society, and technology.

 

Thursday, February 29, 2024
6.00 p.m. - 8.00 p.m. MT
In person - Craigie Hall - Room 119

The African Studies Speaker Series is a part of a Quality Money project brought to you by the University of Calgary’s Student Union.

Charmaine A. Nelson is a Provost Professor of Art History in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and Director of the Slavery North Initiative at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Black Maple Magazine, one of the only national platforms aimed at black Canadians. From 2020-2022, she was a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University in Halifax, CANADA where she founded the first-ever institute focused on the study of Canadian Slavery. She also worked at McGill University (Montreal) for seventeen years (2003-2020). 

Nelson has made ground-breaking contributions to the fields of the Visual Culture of Slavery, Race and Representation, Black Diaspora Studies, and Black Canadian Studies. She has published seven books including The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America (2007), Slavery, Geography, and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Marine Landscapes of Montreal and Jamaica (2016), and Towards an African Canadian Art History: Art, Memory, and Resistance (2018). She is actively engaged with lay audiences through her media work including ABC, CBC, CTV, and City TV News, The Boston Globe, BBC One’s “Fake or Fortune,” and PBS’ “Finding your Roots”. She has blogged for Huffington Post Canada and written for The Walrus

In 2017, she was the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University and in 2021 a Fields of the Future Fellow at Bard Graduate Center (NYC). In 2022 she was inducted as a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada and elected as a Member of the American Antiquarian Society.


Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Chair of the Joint Program in English and Education and Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s Marsal Family School of Education

Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, Chair of the Joint Program in English and Education and Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s Marsal Family School of Education

The Dark Fantastic

Thomas, Ebony Elizabeth 
NYU Press, 2019

The Dark Fantastic, Five Years Later: How do we close the imagination gap

This session is presented by the Werklund School of Education, Werklund International Lecture, featuring Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, PhD.

The Dark Fantastic is an engaging and provocative exploration of race in popular youth and young adult speculative fiction. Grounded in her experiences as YA novelist, fanfiction writer, and scholar of education, Thomas traces the journeys of four black girl protagonists from some of the most popular stories of the early 21st century: Bonnie Bennett from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Rue from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Gwen from the BBC’s Merlin, and Angelina Johnson from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Analyzing their narratives and audience reactions to them reveals how these characters mirror the violence against minoritized peoples in our own world.

In response, Thomas uncovers and builds upon a tradition of fantasy and radical imagination in Black feminism and Afrofuturism to reveal new possibilities. Through fanfiction and other modes of counter-storytelling, young people all over the world have reinvisioned fantastic worlds that reflect their own experiences, their own lives. In doing so, they have closed the imagination gap, reading and writing themselves into existence -- and changing the entire world so that the most powerful people in the world have taken note. The implications for schools, societies, and the future could not be more profound.

 

Thursday, March 7, 2024
7 - 9 p.m. MT
In person - Taylor Institute Forum

Chair of the Joint Program in English and Education and Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s Marsal Family School of Education. A former Detroit Public Schools teacher and National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, she serves as co-editor of Research in the Teaching of English. She is the author of The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games (NYU Press, 2019), which won the World Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the Children’s Literature Association Book Award, among other accolades. Her most recent books are Harry Potter and the Other: Race, Justice, and Difference in the Wizarding World (University Press of Mississippi, 2022) co-edited with Sarah Park Dahlen, and Restorying Young Adult Literature (NCTE, 2023), co-authored by James Joshua Coleman and Autumn A. Griffin.

Her expertise on race and representation in children’s and young adult literature has been sought after nationally and internationally. She has been interviewed by MSNBC, the BBC, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She is a former reviewer for Kirkus’ children’s book section, and has written book reviews for the Los Angeles Times. She is a past National Book Award for Young People's Literature judge, and served as a board member of the United States Board on Books for Young People from 2020-2022.

In addition to her work on books for young readers, she has published widely on race, discourse, and interaction in classrooms and digital environments. In conjunction with the National Writing Project, Amy Stornaiuolo (Penn GSE), Elyse Eidman-Aadahl (NWP), and Sarah Levine (Stanford), she is a co-principal investigator on a major James S. McDonnell Foundation Teachers as Learners grant, the Digital Discourse Project (DDP), a longitudinal collaborative inquiry into how partnering teacher consultants studied their own discourse practices with data and platforms as they facilitated online discussions during and after the COVID-19 era. She is also conducting empirical, digital, and archival research for her next monograph, The Shadow Book: Reading Slavery, Fugitivity, and Liberation in Children's Books and Media, which will focus on how traumatic historical events such as slavery in the teaching of literature are introduced through children's picturebooks, popular media, and the social Web.


Remembering Alberta's Sleeping Car Porters

Remembering Alberta's Sleeping Car Porters

The Canadian History of Sleeping Car Porters has been amplified recently, including as the subject of the Giller-Prize winning novel The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr. Yet the local history of Porters in Calgary and across the prairies, and the links between their unionization efforts and the development of anti-discrimination organizations in Alberta is not widely known. Join us at The GRAND on March 7, 2024 for an evening of memory and music to celebrate Alberta porters within local, national, and international history.

A pre-event reception will take place in The GRAND Lobby at 6:30pm. The evening will feature presentations by Cheryl Foggo, Saje Mathieu, and Suzette Mayr. There will be musical performances by Miranda Martini and Dallas Hayes-Sparks, and a special guest appearance from Judy Williams Graham, a porter descendant.

This event is sponsored by the Calgary District Labour Council, the Canadian Committee on Labour History, Mount Royal University, the University of Calgary, the Calgary Institute of the Humanities, and The GRAND.

This event is FREE to attend!

 

Thursday, March 7, 2024 
7.30 - 9.30 p.m. MT 
THE GRAND.
608 1 St SW, Calgary

Suzette Mayr

Suzette Mayr

Cheryl Foggo

Cheryl Foggo

Saje Mathieu

Saje Mathieu

Suzette Mayr is the author of six novels including her most recent, The Sleeping Car Porter, longlisted for the 2024 Dublin Literary Award, finalist for the 2023 Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and winner of the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize, the George Bugnet Award for Fiction, and the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize. The novel was also shortlisted for the inaugural Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, and the Republic of Consciousness Prize (US and Canada). Mayr’s other novels have won the ReLit Award and City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize, and been nominated for numerous other awards. Mayr has done interdisciplinary work with Calgary theatre company Theatre Junction, and visual artists Lisa Brawn and Geoff Hunter. She has also published articles in journals such as Horror Studies, Studies in Canadian Literature, and The Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature. She is a former President of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta. Mayr teaches Creative Writing at the University of Calgary, and is a Killam Laureate. She also plays the clarinet. Poorly, but enthusiastically.
Cheryl Foggo of Calgary is an award-winning Canadian storyteller. She embraces various forms of narrative – journalism, books, film, television and theatre – to tell compelling stories of Alberta’s Black pioneers. By shining a light on the Prairies’ rich and diverse Black history, she helps us understand the relevance of this history to our lives, and the significance of contributions by Black people to Canada. Cheryl Dawn Foggo was born in 1956 in Calgary and raised in Bowness. Her father Roy was a mailman and her mother Pauline worked for the Calgary Board of Education as a library assistant. Cheryl is a descendant of the Black Migration of 1910, when approximately 1,500 African Americans fled hatred in the southern United States. Both sets of her maternal great grandparents joined that migration, travelling from Oklahoma to settle near Maidstone, Saskatchewan. The third of six children, Cheryl grew up among a family of storytellers. She loved watching her mom’s siblings tell stories about their early lives in Western Canada. “It was like a show. You’d sit around the living room and one of them would act out all the parts,” she says. Cheryl hoped she would become a storyteller, too.
Saje Mathieu is a dedicated educator and historian whose work centers the experiences of African-descended people in the Americas and Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She specializes in the Black Diaspora, war, immigration, race, globalization, social movements, and political resistance. She is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, and a Faculty Fellow at Harvard University’s Warren Center for Studies in American History. Prof. Mathieu earned a joint Ph.D. in History and African American Studies from Yale University and specializes in twentieth century American and African American history with an emphasis on immigration, war, race, globalization, social movements, and political resistance. Her first book North of the Color Line: Migration and Black Resistance in Canada, 1870-1955 examines the social, cultural, legal, and political impact of African American and West Indian sleeping car porters in Canada. It analyzes black immigrant railway workers’ transnational vision of trade unionism and their political mobilization in Canada during the first half of the twentieth century. Her book, The Glory of Their Deeds: A Global History of Black Soldiers and the Great War Era examines the experiences of black soldiers and civilians during World War One, both in Allies and Central Powers nations. The book explores how race shaped the politics of enlistment and engagement in the British, Canadian, African, Caribbean, French, American, and German armies. It also discusses how blacks, whether combatants or intellectual-activists, challenged prevailing racialist ideas and practices during the Great War era. In addition, the book investigates how black soldiers and intellectual-activists responded to international outbreaks of racialized violence in Europe, Southern Africa, and North America as important moments for galvanizing new transnational models of political resistance that redefined black civil rights globally. Together, black soldiers and radicals beat back an international color line—whether defined as colonialism, apartheid, or Jim Crow—viewing each regime as inextricably linked in geopolitical terms. Prof. Mathieu has earned several international awards and is a former fellow at the University of Heidelberg’s Center for American Studies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and at Harvard University’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute. She is also the recipient of the Arthur ‘Red’ Motley Exemplary Teaching Award.