Coming up: The Coastal Communities Workshop, 19-20 November 2021

Unique Indigenous and settler cultures have been shaped in intimate relation with particular coastal environments and ecologies. The multi-racial and international social arrangements of urban waterfronts and rural resource ports have engendered distinctive political configurations. Dramatic weather and climate patterns have shaped coastlines and human fortunes alike, just as humans have reshaped coasts through industry, agriculture, fisheries, and leisure. Canadian ports have staged episodes of international law and family narratives in the history of global migrations. Ambiguous, fluid borders have long made coastal regions the objects of international diplomacy. Sea-level rise, melting ice, and coastal erosion are transforming the future of coastal communities, while also threatening irreplaceable sites of cultural heritage. All along the coast, the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic oceans have seeped into all aspects of Canadian history. This workshop will feature two keynote presentations: Renisa Mawani (Professor of Sociology, University of British Columbia) will give a keynote lecture on the Ingress into India Ordinance (1914) and the mobility of Indian migrants in Canada and the Indian Ocean World in the early 20th century.

Under the inspired leadership of Dr. Sara Spike, co-ordinator of the Wilson Institute’s Watersheds Project, the Wilson Institute is co-organized (with the Gorsebrook Research Institute of St. Mary’s University in Halifax) a workshop on “Canadian Coastal Histories.”

Zoe S. Todd (Associate Professor of Sociology, Carleton, Founder of the Institute for Freshwater Fish Futures) will chair a keynote roundtable with scholars and advocates working in Indigenous coastal fish relations.

Other participants will include scholars working in history, archaeology, geography, art history, Indigenous studies, sociology, the heritage sector, and from other perspectives on the past. We anticipate engagements with Canadian ocean coasts from any time period that are either explorations of particular situated environments or events, studies of cultural representations, or which make broader regional or transnational connections.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with workshop convener Dr. Sara Spike at

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