Dear members and friends of the Federation,
On March 18, 2020, we made the difficult decision to cancel Congress 2020 at Western University, and began consulting our members on a proposal to move the event online. Our priority was to protect public health, while giving our scholarly associations an alternative to share their research and connect with their communities.
But in those conversations, we realized that many of us are feeling tired and overstretched. We are worn out trying to balance new demands at home and in our work. The burden is especially heavy for marginalized, racialized and disabled people, as this crisis compounds existing inequities and creates new ones.
So today, I am announcing that we will no longer move forward with Congress this year, in any form, including online. It is time to pause and give ourselves some space to meet our immediate needs.
Our members have told us that we need to turn our energy to other things right now: picking up groceries for our parents; caring for children who are home without school or childcare; answering emails from worried students; and making the shift to virtual classrooms.
Cancelling Congress is the right decision, but it is a difficult one. It is a unique event, built on people’s hard work and generosity, and we owe our thanks to association Presidents and Directors, Program Chairs, and Local Arrangement Coordinators.
To Alan Shepard, President of Western University: please accept our deepest gratitude for the work of your talented and dedicated organizing team, led by Academic Convenor Jeff Tennant and Project Manager Cliff Fielder, who have poured their heart and soul into this Congress. We will not forget your spirit of partnership, and we look forward to collaborating with you again.
We know some of the most important questions remain to be answered, including that of this year’s Congress theme – Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism. Despite this cancellation and the immediate challenges of COVID-19, we remain committed to having these critical conversations, and we will be working with all of our Congress partners and member associations to make that a reality.
While the past few weeks have been difficult, I was inspired many times by the commitment and collaboration of my staff and our association leaders. It is a privilege to work with them and on behalf of our members. Thank you, be safe, and let’s look forward to many more conversations to come.
President and CEO, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences