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Canadian-American Studies at WWU celebrates 50 years

March 24, 2021

When I first came to Western in 2008 as an assistant professor of French, former C/AM director Don Alper immediately welcomed me into the Canadian-American Studies’ program by inviting me to lunch. That lunch changed the trajectory of my career as the Center’s academic and non-academic programming assisted and supported my growth as a teacher-scholar in promoting a deeper and more comparatively critical understanding of Canada.

It hasn’t always been an easy journey for the Center; Canada House, while freshly painted in 2020, sits behind the parking lot of the Performing Arts Center and often goes unnoticed. “It looks like a little cottage. I like the look of it but I have no idea what the purpose of it is.”[1] I, and fellow Canadianists, would encounter a similar reaction when discussing our work with students and scholars from different fields of research; what was the purpose of studying Canada?

While Canada and the United States are linked by deep economic ties, several common historical experiences, and many cultural similarities, they are also marked by real and important differences. It is this precise dynamic that drives our mission to expand our common knowledge of Canada and understanding of the shared Canadian-American experience, including both opportunities and challenges. Through the dedicated and relentless efforts of those who have held the position of director before me, the Center for Canadian-American Studies now stands as a leader in the nation for its academic program and research.

To celebrate this important milestone that is the Center’s 50th anniversary, we are inviting you all to join us in participating in a series of virtual events throughout the entire year of 2021. Our schedule of events illustrates the breadth of the Center’s academic and non-academic programming, highlighting the passionate work of our faculty, students, sister programs in Canada House, and our partnerships both across campus and in the larger community. All events are free and open to the public, and we encourage you to follow along with us this year, bringing your curiosity, knowledge, and ideas. We hope these events deepen your understanding of Canada and its relationship to the United States, as well as the uniqueness of Western’s proximity to the international border and the complexities and opportunities that come with it.

I’d also like to congratulate former C/AM director and professor emeritus, Don Alper, for his recent publication Bridging the Longest Border: A History of Canadian-American Studies at Western Washington University (2021). Copies are available for purchase at Village Books. To celebrate this achievement, join Don for a conversation with Cat Wallace (Journalism instructor at Whatcom Community College and former Managing Editor of The American Review of Canadian Studies) on April 29, hosted by Village Books (for more information / to register, click here).  What a wonderful gift for the Center!

Thank you all for your continued support and Happy Birthday C/AM!


Christina Keppie
Director of the Center for Canadian-American Studies and Professor of French, Western Washington University


The Canadian Studies Center in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies (Jackson School) at the University of Washington is a U.S. Department of Education designated National Resource Center on Canada (NRC). It is one of six NRCs in the Jackson School. Together with the Center for Canadian-American Studies at Western Washington University, it forms the Pacific Northwest NRC on Canada—one of just two NRCs on Canada in the nation. The NRC is funded by a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant administered by the International and Foreign Language Education office in the Office of Postsecondary Education.