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International Conference:
Black Diasporic Experiences of Societal Engagement:
The Politics of Inclusion – Engagement on whose terms?
April 11 - 12, 2007
Library & Archives Canada, Ottawa



Conference planner:

James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Dalhousie University. The James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies is a national senior academic post covering all of Canada based at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in recognition of the unique historical presence of Black people in the area. The James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies is the only such Chair in Canada.

Advisory Committee:

Senator Donald Oliver.
(Ottawa, Ontario)

Dr. Yvonne Brown,
Manager, International Initiatives External Programs and Learning Technologies (Vancouver, BC)

Dr. Boulou de B’beri
Founder, Director, Audiovisual Media Lab for the Studies of Cultures and Societies (Ottawa, ON. University of Ottawa)

Mr. Peter Hanes
Information Technology Specialist, U.S.
National Park Service (Washington, DC)

Mr. Peter Irniq

Professor David Divine
ex-officio. James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies. (National)

Ms. Claudette Legault
Executive Director MISA (Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (Halifax, NS)

Dr. Rinaldo Walcott
OISE / University of Toronto. Canada Research Chair of Social Justice and Cultural Studies. (Toronto, Ontario)

Dr. Marjorie Stone
Co-Director Atlantic Metropolis Centre, Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Dalhousie Univ. (Halifax, NS)

Mr. Wek Kuol
Community Social Worker, City of Calgary Neighbourhood Services (Calgary, AB)

Dr. Dorothy Wills
Chair of the National Advisory Board of the James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies (Montreal, Québec)


The international conference is an exploration of the politics, policies and practices of “inclusion” efforts relating to Black people of African descent in four countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States of America. What are the similarities and differences in approach (es) between the four countries and why? What can Canada learn from those experiences? What can Canada contribute to the experience of others? The conference will explore the costs and benefits of such “inclusion” endeavours to the country itself and to the individuals who are the subjects of it. The international conference builds on the successful national conference in 2005, titled “Multiple Lenses: Voices from the Diaspora Located in Canada” which explored how Black people in Canada have identified themselves and been identified, over a 400 year period. A major publication related to that conference is due to be published in early 2007.

The conference will explore notions of “inclusion”, “integration”, “assimilation” and “community”. It will address measures for evaluating whether inclusion has occurred. It will highlight what conditions need to prevail before one can voluntarily commit oneself to the country where one is resident, including to its values, rights and freedoms and “accepted” perceptions of how to think and act relating to specific areas of life. It will share models of best practice and highlight areas needing further
examination and policy formulation. In seven major concurrent sessions, key issues will be explored in: Criminal Justice System(s) and Inclusion, Health and Inclusion, National Memory Institutions and Inclusion, Education and Inclusion, Youth and Inclusion, Employment/Business and Inclusion, and Religion/Spirituality and Inclusion.

This conference is timed to coincide with the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in the British Empire, the 60th Anniversary of Canadian Citizenship and the 25th Anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The international conference, over two days, will provide a platform for national and internationally recognized contributors from across Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, to share policies, practices, ideas and research both past and present about what it means to be “included” as a Black person in the four participating countries. This conference will include contributions from scholars, public servants, community representatives, students, youth, and members of the public.

Intended audience:

For all those interested in furthering their understanding and knowledge about the complexities of forging a national identity with it’s accompanying commitments to identified rights and freedoms, citizenship and responsibilities, whilst at the same time, acknowledging the diversity of varying histories, experiences, religions, geographic origins and allegiances of members of its population.

The audience will include scholars, members of the public, community representatives, university, college and high school students, public officials, politicians and the media.

As there will be a focus on youth and students (ages 13 – 25), 100 of the 384 delegate places, will be reserved for this age group.

Target Number of Participants:

384 delegates

Language of conference:

Bilingual. French and English. Simultaneous translation service provided.

Publication of a major book linked to the Conference in autumn 2008 Identification of a Network of Community representatives, scholars and policy makers: A network will be identified at the conference of interested community representatives, scholars and policy makers who wish to be involved in further exploration of the issues, research, policies and practices raised at the

Invited speakers are being asked as part of their contribution to submit a draft chapter covering the themes in their conference presentation, in advance of the conference. Those chapters will be amended by the authors in the light of the dialogue during the conference, and re-submitted within two months of the conclusion of the conference. The chapters will be edited by the James Robinson Johnston Chair, and the book will be published in the autumn of 2008.

Audio visual coverage:

As part of the fulfillment of the objectives of the conference to advance understanding of the Black Canadian experience and its links to a wider Black diaspora, selected highlights of the event appropriately packaged, will be broadcast to a wider audience. The possibilities of simultaneous broadcast will be explored particularly in relation to high schools and community centres.
Television coverage and web casting (recording of the event over the world wide web), is envisaged.


Invited speakers will have undertaken major work in their fields and have contributed to advancing knowledge in the field of Black studies and the understanding of Black experience in their respective countries. Emerging scholars, community representatives and young people will also present. Following shortly.

Funding sources:

It is hoped due to the importance of the event coinciding with the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade in the British Empire, the 60th Anniversary of Canadian Citizenship and the 25th Anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. and the ongoing discussion of the meaning of citizenship in the 21st century, that a significant element of the cost of the conference
will be contributed by Government. Other sources will include: registration fees, partner universities and institutes, foundations, Dalhousie University, fund raising activities and private donors.


To register for the April 2007 conference, we recommend that you use our online registration form. For other registration-related inquiries, please contact the office of the James R. Johnston Chair (see below).


The James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies will post details of recommended hotels in Ottawa on the conference web-site (www.jamesrjohnstonchair.dal.ca). Delegates are responsible for securing their own accommodation. Information about hotel accommodation in Ottawa is available at the following web site: www.ottawatourism.ca


For more information, contact Professor David Divine, James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies: david.divine@dal.ca