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July 2012 Report

Parliament Building

July 7, 2012

From Ross Burkhart, Executive Director

As you may know, in May, the Government of Canada terminated the Understanding Canada program, which provided funding through 18 separate grant initiatives for academic projects ranging from the support of Canadian Studies programs via the Program Enhancement Grant, to course development through the Course Enrichment Grant, to research projects via the Faculty Research Grant.Colleagues:

As you may know as well, the Consortium has relied on the Program Enhancement Grant over the past few years for essential funding that has paid the bills for our Annual General Meeting, supported faculty and graduate student research and travel, and generally enhanced the profile of the Consortium.  Now, we will no longer have access to these funds.

What does this mean for the Consortium?  We will not waver in our mission to promote the study of Canada in our neck of the woods.  We will continue to host the Annual General Meeting, albeit on a smaller scale, and provide support for research and travel where we can.  The details of these activities will be forthcoming, but please do not think that the Consortium will cease to exist.  Rather, we will recalibrate our work to fit the new budgetary normal.

What can you do in the meantime?  The Association for Canadian Studies in the United States recommends that you contact the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister (through whose ministry the Understanding Canada program was administered) directly to express your support of the Understanding Canada, especially as it has assisted you over the years in enhancing your study of Canada through teaching, scholarship, and service.  The Consortium agrees with this strategy.  The more personal our stories are of how Understanding Canada has helped us, the better.  The more frequently we can inform the Government of the importance of the Understanding Canada program, the better as well.

Here is the contact information for the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.

Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

Honourable John Baird
Minister of Foreign Minister
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2

We’ll look forward to seeing you at the Annual General Meeting!

Best wishes,

A Tale of Two Norths

By Gary N. Wilson, Associate Director, Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium

Tale of North MapThe north occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of Canadians. We define ourselves as a northern people, even though most Canadians have never been “north of 60”, one of the traditional demarcation lines between north and south in Canada. Recently, the Canadian government has been paying more attention to the Arctic. As climate change melts the sea ice in the Circumpolar North, Arctic states are rushing to establish their control over this vast region and its resources. Even non-Arctic states such as China, India and South Korea are anxious to benefit from the huge potential of the Arctic, its resource wealth and, in particular, its shipping routes from the Pacific to the Atlantic Oceans.

The Canadian Arctic is also undergoing significant political change. In part, this is a reaction to some of the developments noted above. But it is also in response to the pressing challenges facing the region and its peoples. The territorial governments are demanding greater devolution of powers from Ottawa. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic are taking important strides towards autonomy and self-government. Everyone, of course, has heard of Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory and the homeland of the Inuit peoples of the Eastern Arctic. But did you know that Inuit peoples in Nunavik (northern Québec), Nunatsiavut (northern Labrador) and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (Northwest Territories) have negotiated land claims agreements and are using these agreements as a basis to build their own self-governing regions? Indeed, throughout the Arctic, Aboriginal peoples are redefining their relationship with the Canadian state and this is having a profound impact on the north and on the country as a whole.

We should not forget, however, that the Canadian north is more than just the Arctic and the territories. It includes a vast swathe of land in the northern parts of many of the provinces. Historians, Ken Coates and Bill Morrison, have called this region “the Forgotten North,” in reference its neglect, both in the popular psyche and by academics who study the north in Canada. Although the provincial north does not have the allure of the Arctic, it will most certainly be a critical part of the Canadian economy and society in the 21st century. This region is home to vast quantities of natural resources. Moreover, the population of the provincial north is much larger than and just as diverse as the territorial north, but its challenges around a whole series of social issues are just as pressing.

For some time now, the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium and its parent organization, the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States have championed the study of the Canadian north. Arctic and northern issues have featured prominently at our Annual General Meetings and conferences. To this end, the Consortium is currently developing a summer field school in Churchill, northern Manitoba for faculty at American and Canadian post-secondary institutions. Churchill is located in the provincial north, but lies on the boundary between the sub-Arctic and Arctic regions. The field school, therefore, promises to bridge the historical divide in the study of the Canadian north and will most certainly be a fascinating and worthwhile experience for those who are able to participate. For more information on the proposed summer field school, please contact the organizers: Morna MacEachern ( or Nadine Fabbi (

 The Pas Story

By Morna McEachern

All Aboard the CCGS Harper to a Glorious Ice-Free North

“All Aboard the CCGS Harper to a Glorious Ice-Free North” by Avery Ascher
(CCGS stands for Canadian Coast Guard Ship, the designation on Canada’s fleet of ice breakers)
Photo courtesy of the artist.

This being election year in the USA, imagine an electoral district more than twice the size of Washington State with a total population of 75,000 people. This describes the Churchill riding (voting district) in subarctic, northern Manitoba. Within this riding, the town of The Pas is home to the University College of the North, which hosted an important symposium Gateways North, Expansion, Convergence and Change. The keynote speaker was Tomson Highway, Order of Canada, playwright, novelist and indigenous activist. Mayors from two towns, the MP from Churchill riding, the predominantly Cree elder council who are one of the governing boards of UCN, scientists, artists, historians, Cree dancers and hunters all participated and shared knowledge.

As part of developing a field institute for US and Canadian students and faculty in Churchill, Manitoba, summer of 2013, I had the privilege of attending the symposium. Starting by making connections and receiving invitations to work together, at the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg, where Lloyd Axworthy, renown statesman, is president, I took a ten hour bus ride north to The Pas.

In The Pas, I was welcomed and spent two days of intense learning. The Cree elders took me under their wings and told me many wonderful stories of the land, the people, the history, the horrors of residential schools, and the strength of traditions. One story was of a community where the water main had broken and they had to wait an extra month this year for the winter roads (when the lakes freeze and trucks can reach communities to which there are no land roads). The organizer of the conference told me that I did not need to bring winter clothes. The ice had broken up at least three weeks early. The textile art of the fraying of the polar bear and the artist’s well researched presentation about the politics and economics of the arctic and the polar bear as the canary in the mine of global warming were bookends to the stories.

If Canada and the US are to join forces in relationship to the Arctic, it is essential that those of us who live in the south (and Winnipeg is considered the south in The Pas, which is only in the sub arctic) become educated and consider the rich and multifaceted lands, natural environments, peoples of the Arctic in our economic, political and cultural foci. Please consider joining us in Churchill and environs next summer.

Au revoir, Victoria, Welcome, Monick!

Morna and Victoria

Morna McEachern and Victoria Choe at Victoria’s graduation celebration. Victoria wearing the necklace she received from PNWCSC.

PNWCSC has been more than fortunate to have had the excellent, cheerful, support of Victoria Choe for the past few years. In June, Victoria graduated from the University of Washington and set off for a double masters’ program at Syracuse University, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs for Master in Public Administration and Interntional Relations. She is a part of the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Fellowship 2012.

Honoured with a Pickering Fellowship to support her studies, Victoria is pursuing Masters’ degrees in Foreign Affairs and International Studies. The consortium gave Victoria a Pacific Northwest necklace, which she is wearing in the attached picture (with Morna McEachern), taken at her graduation celebration.

We will miss her and are very fortunate to have Monick Keo join us. She has been working with the University of Washington Canadian Studies program, supporting the website, and will take on web and communication related tasks. She has also been working for the Canadian Studies Center at the University of Washington. Monick is a student from the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. Her major is Japanese Studies and also minors in Japanese. Welcome Monick!

Sample Letter for Institutional Justification for PNWCSC Dues Payment

The objective of the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium is to promote the study of Canada and Canada-US relations throughout the Pacific Northwest region. It does this by:

• Supporting Canada Week programs at American post-secondary institutions
• Organizing and hosting Canadian Summer Institutes for American academics
• Organizing and hosting an Annual General Meeting and Conference, along with the Canadian government and with other supportive organizations
• Supporting faculty and graduate students with small grants for projects with Canadian content and participation in some conferences
• Sponsoring conferences and meetings for Canadian and American students on issues of mutual concern
• Working closely with the Association of Canadian Studies in the US (ACSUS) and both the Canadian and American governments

The Consortium has been active since 1986 and has over 40 members in 7 different jurisdictions: 3 Canadian provinces and territories (British Columbia, Alberta and Yukon) and 4 American states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska).

For Canadian post-secondary institutions such as UNBC, the Consortium offers a means to connect with scholars from elsewhere in Canada and the United States for the purpose of conducting research on Canada, sharing best practices in teaching courses on Canada and Canadian studies and promoting mutual understanding between our two countries. Canadian scholars have actively participated in the Canada Week programs at American institutions and the annual meeting and conference. The Consortium has also facilitated participation in the Annual General Meeting and Conference by offering travel subsidies to institutional representatives and the members of the Board of Directors and Executive.

UNBC has been a member of the Consortium since 2003. Gary Wilson (Political Science) is the current UNBC representative. He has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2008 and was elected Associate Director of the Consortium in 2011. In the past, UNBC students have participated in Consortium-sponsored student conferences. UNBC faculty members have also presented papers at the Annual General Meeting and Conference. As a result of its active role in the Consortium, UNBC has raised its profile among post-secondary institutions in the Pacific Northwest region.