Black Canada Symposium

Unsettling the Great White North:
Re/Viewing, Re/Visioning, and Re/Imagining Black Canada

A stack of red books, the top book has black paint dripping from the pages.
Photo credit: Chantal Gibson, Redacted Text 2019.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

University of Toronto — St. George Campus
Paul Cadario Conference Centre, University College (UC 183)

Sessions Event Information
Symposium Welcome 
9:30 am
Funké Aladejebi and Michele Johnson
Keynote Address #1
10–11 am
Chantal Gibson, “Exploring Historical In(ter)ventions
Session #1
11 am–12 pm
Theorizing Black Canadian History and Studies
  • Barrington Walker, “Critical Histories of Blackness in Canada.”
  • Daniel McNeil, “Wrestling with Multicultural Snake Oil: A Newcomer’s Introduction to Black Canada.”
Lunch 12–1 pm
Session #2
1–2 pm
Enslaving Blackness
  • Karolyn Smardz Frost, “Planting Slavery in Nova Scotia’s Promised Land, 1759-1775.” (Virtual)
  • Natasha Henry, “Where, Oh Where, is Bet?: Locating Enslaved Black Women on the Ontario Landscape.”
Session #3
2–3 pm
Constructing Blackness across Borders and Boundaries
  • Adam Arenson, “A Forgotten Generation: African Canadian History between Fugitive Slaves and World War I.”
  • Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey, “Petitioning Power: Canadian Racial Consciousness Meets Alabama Injustice, 1958.”
Coffee Break 3–3:15 pm
Session #4
3:15 pm
Schooling Black Canadians
  • Deirdre McCorkindale, “Black Education: The Complexity of Segregation in Kent County’s Nineteenth Century Schools.” (Virtual)
  • Carl E. James, “‘We have to strive for the best’: The high aspirations of Black Caribbean-Canadian youth of the 1970s and 80s.”


Friday, February 3, 2023

York University — Keele Campus
Archives of Ontario (134 Ian MacDonald Boulevard)

Sessions Event Information
Opening 9:30 am Michele A. Johnson & Funké Aladejebi
Keynote Address #2
10–11 am
“Conversations on Blackness” with Wayde Compton and Andrea Davis
Session #5
11 am–12 pm
Building Black Communities and Shaping Black Resilience
  • David Este and Jenna Bailey, “The Shiloh Baptist Church: The Pillar of Strength in Edmonton’s African American Community, 1905-1940.”
  • Amoaba Gooden, “Establishing Communities.”
  • Sean Mills, “Montreal’s Black Renaissance.”
  • Anna Ainsworth, “‘The part of you that’s Rwanda’: Creating a Rwandan Diaspora Community in the Greater Toronto Area in the Early Twenty-first Century.”
Lunch 12–1 pm
Session #6
1–2 pm
Gender, Labour and Black Women’s Knowings
  • Claudine Bonner, “‘Likely to become a public charge’: Examining Black Migration to Eastern Canada, 1900-1930.”
  • Michele A. Johnson, “‘. . . not likely to do well or to be an asset to this country’: Canadian Restrictions of Black Caribbean Female Domestic Workers, 1910-1955.”
  • Funké Aladejebi, “‘I Don’t Know if I Should Say This’: Black Women, Oral History, and Contesting the Great White North."
Coffee Break 2–2:15 pm
Session #7
2:15–3:15 pm
Locating Historical Black Presences in Cultural Artefacts 
  • Paul Watkins, “Hogan’s Alley Remixed: Wayde Compton’s Performance Bond and the New Black Can(aan)Lit.”
  • Winfried Siemerling, “Jazz, Diaspora and the History and Writing of Black Anglophone Montreal.”
Mentorship Roundtable 3:15–4:15 pm Roundtable with Graduate Students
  • “Navigating the Archives: Finding Sources on Black Canada”
Social Gathering/Closing Remarks 4:15–5 pm


Hosted by:

York University

University of Toronto