"I love that human geography affords me the space to include my passions, skills and training in dance, documentaries, poetry, Black history and culture."

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Student Profile: Joy Russell

Geography master's student in the Faculty of Environment

February 11, 2021
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I am a mature Black student, born in Belize, who came to Canada to start grade one. I returned to SFU to finish the BA I had left behind in the eighties and focus on gerontology. I took an urban geography course and never looked back. I am thrilled to be starting my Masters in the Geography department. I love that human geography affords me the space to include my passions, skills and training in dance, documentaries, poetry, Black history and culture. I am deeply curious about the production and intersection of racial formations and what can they tell us about concepts of the self, modernity, racism and resistance.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

I chose to continue at SFU so that I could work with Dr. Magie Ramírez, from the Department of Geography, based on her expertise in urban, cultural, racialized and feminist geographies. Her open, interdisciplinary approach was also a key factor for me which aligned with my approach, experiences, interests and skills.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESEARCH OR YOUR PROGRAM TO A FAMILY MEMBER?

My research examines the segregation practices and policies at Crystal Pool, Vancouver’s first semi-public, then public swimming pool, between 1929-1945, and also explores the significance of a Vancouver site locally known as ‘Brown Skin Beach.’ Archive-based, my research also explores how racialized people responded to and negotiated their exclusion from public swimming pools, focusing on the relationship between the sites of Crystal Pool and ‘Brown Skin Beach.’ I see this work as offering new research into the underexplored history of racism and segregation policies in recreational spaces in Vancouver and Canada and extending a wide body of literature examining recreational segregation in the USA.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

Starting grad school during a pandemic has been a tough terrain to navigate and I am grateful for the sustenance, generosity, compassion and kindness shown by my peers, instructors and supervisor, Magie Ramírez. I especially enjoyed the weekly injection of joy from our course-curated playlist, played on our breaks—the brilliant idea of our professor, Dr. Rosemary Collard—which made Zoom learning human, playful and a real sonic pleasure.

HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR-FUNDED AWARDS? IF SO, PLEASE TELL US WHICH ONES AND A LITTLE ABOUT HOW THE AWARDS HAVE IMPACTED YOUR STUDIES AND/OR RESEARCH.

I have received a BC Graduate Scholarship. This award has afforded me time and greater financial ease, allowing me to focus on my studies with less distraction

Contact Joy: jrrussel@sfu.ca