Evelyn Encalada Grez has worked transnationally with export-processing workers in Mexico and Central America and as lead travelling faculty teaching U.S. university students in over six countries. For three semesters, she was the Academic Director of an intensive social justice study abroad program in her city of birth, Valparaiso, Chile.

Evelyn Encalada Grez brings 20 years labour organizing experience to SFU’s Labour Studies program

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When Evelyn Encalada Grez was in high school she knew she wanted to be a changemaker, but she didn’t know how to begin. Now, Grez has amassed 20 years of experience as a community-labour organizer in Central America, Mexico and Canada, and she is keen to share her experience with SFU students when she joins the faculty of the Labour Studies program in fall 2020.

“What I want to bring to my students is hope with the strategies that I’ve seen firsthand, where communities come together in spite of all of the obstacles and repression,” Grez says. “I want to mentor them, to guide them in finding how and where they can situate themselves in this grand scheme and dream of social justice. That dream could be very different for all of us, but all of our imaginings are needed in this world more than ever.”

Grez credits serendipity for her academic career. As the first member of her family to go to university, her journey began as a young girl when her family fled Pinochet’s military dictatorship in Chile for asylum in Canada. In high school Grez became interested in social justice issues and began making connections between her life in Canada and inequality and injustice around the world.

“Questions arose that weren't answered in high school,” says Grez. “Such as, why is it that many people from the Global South are displaced? Why is it that we can’t live in the countries we were born in? Why is it that Indigenous peoples cannot live on their traditional land anymore?” 

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