2021-2022: Highlighting Black Histories

The SFU Department of History is pleased to announce the 2021-2022 installment of our Annual Public Lecture Series. In “Highlighting Black Histories”, we bring together three remarkable scholars whose work focuses on the untold stories of Black Canadian History. We'll hear about the impact of Pan-Africanism and the Civil Rights movement in Canada, the boundaries of racial belonging along the Canada / US Border, and the fascinating story of the "Banker Ladies"- Black women who participate in informal banking cooperatives. Read on to learn more about our exciting lineup of scholars!

This year's Annual Public Lecture Series will allow a limited number of in-person attendees as well as an option to attend the talk virtually. Specific details may vary slightly for each Lecture in the Series, and will be provided to you with your registration confirmation. The health and well-being of students, staff, faculty, guests and the university community is SFU’s top priority. All in-person attendees will be required to adhere to both SFU and provincial health and safety protocols including but not limited to showing proof of vaccination, mandatory wearing of masks in all indoor common areas, and registering to attend in-person. In-person and virtual attendees must register to receive all the appropriate information. 


Black Radical Traditions and Educational Encounters in Canada

Date: Friday, October 22, 2021

Initiatives created in the 60s and 70s by individuals of African descent, such as the Black Peoples Conference and the Black Education Project, served as examples of the need for Black Canadians to take direct political action against institutional racism in Canada. Hoping to forge alliances with one another, these organizations recognized the global impact of Pan-Africanism and black radicalism that not only adopted, but also changed, the language of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the Canadian context. Carrying traditions of community uplift and cooperation, Aladejebi will discuss the ongoing legacies of black political and radical action through education.

Funké Aladejebi is a scholar of the twentieth century with a specialization in Black Canadian history. Her work explores the importance of Black Canadian women in sustaining their communities and preserving a distinct Black identity within restrictive gender and racial barriers. Aladejebi has been involved in a variety of community engagement and social justice initiatives in Toronto and her research interests are in oral history, the history of education in Canada, Black feminist thought and transnationalism. Her book, Schooling the System: A History of Black Women Teachers, explores the intersections of race, gender and access in Canadian educational institutions. A co-edited collection, Unsettling the Great White North: Black Canadian History, is scheduled for release in January 2022.


Homegoing: Blackness and Belonging Across the Canada/US Border

Date: Thursday, February 17, 2022

"But, where are you really from?" Using the analytical insights of Black political thought and the hard lessons learned from a decade of moving back and forth across the Canada/US border, Debra Thompson explores the boundaries of racial belonging, considers the peculiar nuances of racism in Canada and the United States, revels in the resilience of freedom dreams that link and inspire Black people across national borders, and, ultimately asks what it means to be in a place, but not of that place.

Debra Thompson is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Canada Research Chair in Racial Inequality in Democratic Societies at McGill University. A leading scholar of the comparative politics of race, Thompson’s award-winning book, The Schematic State: Race, Transnationalism, and the Politics of the Census (Cambridge University Press, 2016) examines the political development of racial classifications on the national censuses of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. She is currently writing a non-fiction book, The Long Road Home (Simon & Schuster 2022) on the nuances of race and racism in Canada and the United States, as well as working on an academic book project on the global appeal of the Black Lives Matter movement.


Canada’s Hidden Figures: The Story of Black Women Cooperators

Date: Thursday, April 14, 2022

The story of the Banker Ladies is hidden and erased from history, but it is a story worth knowing. To meet their livelihood and social needs, these Black diaspora women participate in informal cooperatives and lead solidarity economies through a form of mutual aid called Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs). Rooted in equity, mutual aid and self-help, the Banker Ladies decide on the rules and processes of how to make regular contributions to a ROSCA that is then given in whole or in part to each member in turn to help others. Valuing these informal coop institutions and acknowledging the expertise of the Banker Ladies will help build an inclusive economy and bridge the gap of inequity in Canada.

Caroline Shenaz Hossein is Associate Professor of Global Development and Political Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She is a Founder of the Diverse Solidarity Economies (DiSE) Collective, an organization that pushes for equitable economies and a Postgrowth Fellow at the Postgrowth Institute, working alongside global activists and changemakers fighting for new inclusive economies. In 2021, she delivered the Big Thinking Lecture for the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, “Canada’s hidden cooperative system.” Hossein is also an elected board member to the International Association of Feminist Economics, and an editorial board member to the U.N. Task Force for the Social and Solidarity Economy. She is the author of the multi award-winning Politicized Microfinance (2016), co-author of Critical Introduction to Business and Society (2017) and editor of The Black Social Economy (2018). Her co-edited book Community Economies in the Global South is forthcoming.