Big Picture at #congressh: Canada 150

Friday, May 26, 2017

Guest blog by Karen Leiva, Congress 2017 blogger

The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together leading thinkers, academics, researchers, policy-makers and innovators to explore some of the world’s most challenging issues. Congress celebrates the vitality and quality of Canadian research contributions, and helps train the next generation of Canadian ideas leadership. This year’s theme “The Next 150, on Indigenous Lands" celebrates the history, legacy and achievements of the peoples and territories that make us who we are, and anticipates the boundless opportunities of the future. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, this year’s Congress is being hosted by Ryerson University in Toronto from May 27-June 2. Follow this series of Big Picture at #congressh blogs.

There’s no doubt that Congress has played an important part of Canada’s history – for 86 years, Congress has been uniting the country’s leaders in the humanities and social sciences to move the country forward. To mark Canada’s 150th, Congress 2017 has planned a series of lectures and sessions that focus on the country’s history and explore the next 150 years to come.

We asked Ryerson University’s Dean of Arts, Pamela Sugiman, to tell us about the importance of Canada 150 at Congress 2017.


“Congress is an opportunity to showcase the social sciences and humanities, and given that it is Canada’s 150th birthday, we wanted to integrate the theme to draw parallels between the past and future,” she said. “A lot of work being presented at Congress shows the currency of history; for example, racism is a part of Canada’s past and it persists today, but with some different groups targeting different communities.”

 As a third generation Japanese-Canadian, Dean Sugiman recognizes the similarities between Canada’s treatment of Japanese Canadians and the current treatment of Muslim people. During the war, her grandparents and parents were interned from British Columbia to Ontario – even though they were Canadian citizens at the time.

“These are some of the very issues that will be addressed in Congress, particularly during the session Open Borders, Open Minds which will examine: What does citizenship mean? Does race overpower citizenship, regardless of your legal status in the country? Do perceived threats to national security diminish your citizenship?

“It’s important that we examine these kinds of issues. When you do, you can see the parallels between the past, present and future.”

What’s on: 3 sessions to look for

Timeline 150: Québec, Canada, and the weight of history
May 29, 12:15 – 13:15
Panelists: Jocelyn Létourneau, professor of history at Laval University and 2006 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation fellow; and Andréanne LeBrun, doctoral student in history at Sherbrooke University and 2015 Trudeau scholar.

Grading Canada at 150
May 29, 19:00 – 21:00
Panelists: George Elliott Clarke, James Karl Bartleman, Michael Bliss, Veronica Strong-Boag, Eugénie Brouillet, Jean-François Nadeau, and Jean Teillet.

Remembering our past, rethinking the next 150 years and beyond
May 29, 1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.
Presenters Lee Maracle, Pamela Palmater and Murray Sinclair






Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2017