Arthur Holiday Fundraiser
Arthur News School of Fish
Her Excellency The Right Honourable Mary Simon delivers a keynote address in Champlain College's Great Hall on October 22nd, 2022. Photo credit: Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay.

Trent Hosts Conference in Honour of Shelagh Grant featuring Keynote by Governor General

Written by
Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay
and
and
October 31, 2022
Trent Hosts Conference in Honour of Shelagh Grant featuring Keynote by Governor General
Her Excellency The Right Honourable Mary Simon delivers a keynote address in Champlain College's Great Hall on October 22nd, 2022. Photo credit: Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay.

As a part of the ongoing celebration of fifty years of Canadian studies at Trent, the School for the Study of Canada hosted a day-long conference in honour of the memory of esteemed historian and scholar, Shelagh Grant entitled “Northern Nationalisms, Arctic Mythologies, and the Weight of History.”

The proceedings took place on October 22nd and were organised by Trent University professor Dr. P. Whitney Lackenbauer, expert on Canadian Arctic history and security and Tier one Canada Research Chair in the Study of the Canadian North, and University of Calgary PhD Candidate Ryan Dean. 

Shelagh Grant passed away in June 2020. During her long career as an historian, teacher, and researcher she wrote landmark publications on Canadian Arctic policy, history and historiography including Sovereignty or Security? Government Policy in the Canadian North, 1939-1950 (1988), Arctic Justice: On Trial for Murder - Pond Inlet, 1923 (2002), and Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America (2010).

Grant was an internationally renowned expert on Arctic issues and spent seventeen years as an adjunct professor and research associate in Canadian studies at Trent, receiving an honorary doctorate of letters in 2015 from the university.

The conference brought together leading experts from across Canada to discuss the topic of the north from a wide array of perspectives and disciplinary approaches. The day was made up of four panels: Narrating North, Histories of the Canadian North, Politics and the Environment, and Education and Experiential Learning. 

“The all-star cast of participants at the conference was a testament to Shelagh Grant’s myriad contributions to our understandings of the history of Northern Canada and to contemporary debates about sovereignty and security,” Lackenbauer noted. “It was such an honour to host a distinguished group of Canadian authors, scholars, leaders, thinkers, and practitioners to share their insights on how the North has been and is narrated, its histories and myths, politics and the environment, and education and experiential learning.”

If there was one common theme running through the panels that took place over the course of the day, it was the outpouring of respect for Dr. Grant’s work and her commitment to being a good and gracious colleague and mentor. Several generations of scholars spoke of the caring and genuinely encouraging nature of Dr. Grant’s advice when they encountered her at conferences. 

Peter Kikkert, now a professor of public policy and governance at St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia reflected upon the first time he encountered Dr. Grant at one of the first academic conferences he attended as a graduate student. His paper, he recalled, was actually refuting several key arguments Grant had recently published, but following his presentation Dr. Grant approached him and told him his ideas were “interesting” and to keep it up. 

Dr. Peter Kikkert and Amanda Graham during a panel on Histories of the Canadian North. Photo credit: Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay.

Panellists also took the time to reflect on the gravity of the issues facing Canada’s North and the rest of the northern polar regions. Professor Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan, said reflected on the urgent need for scholars to reconsider the ways in which they engage with the reading public, noting that academic publications have increased markedly in recent decades while sales and overall readerships has declined markedly.

“The participants'  list was awe-inspiring -- a wonderful mix of old and new,” Dr. Coates added in an email following the conference. “Debate was robust and highly informed -- but also polite and urgent.”  Coates emphasized that the conference offered “a wonderful memorialization of Shelagh Grant's work and contributions,” with the diverse contributors keeping “her front and centre throughout.”

Dr. Ken Coates, Trent Fulbright Chair Dr. Elizabeth Elliot-Meisel, and Trent CRC Dr. Whitney Lackenbauer. Photo credit: Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay.

Education, both in and about the North, was a central topic of discussion across all panels. The centrality of the North in Canada’s national identity and the global association of images of Northern climes and animals in messaging around climate change is a powerful reminder of how significant research into issues affecting the Arctic are to those living in the South. 

“My head is still reeling as I process all the information that was shared and the very insightful and fruitful conversations we had throughout the day and when we were able to chat face-to-face sharing meals,” Bridget Larocque, a Metis leader from the Northwest Territories stated after the conference. “It was a wonderful opportunity to engage with thinkers with such vast knowledges and experiences.”

The keynote address for the conference was given by Governor General Mary Simon, who was a long-time friend of Dr. Grant.

Place setting for Governor General Mary Simon. Photo credit: Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay

Her Excellency delivered a thoughtful and personal account of her relationship during her 30 minute speech in Champlain College’s Great Hall, using Shelagh Grant’s words to illustrate the relationship between the two and her love for the North. When I was granted the opportunity to speak to Her Excellency after her address, she was gracious in recalling a friendship which blossomed out of professional encounters and which came to be more familial in the later part. 

During our conversation, Her Excellency reflected on coming to know Dr. Grant while delivering Arctic Issues lectures in the early 1990s and subsequently through her involvement in the Arctic Council and various other appointments including Policy Co-Director of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Commissioner of the Nunavut Implementation Commission, and Canadian Circumpolar Ambassador, becoming the first Inuk to hold ambassadorial rank.

Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay and Governor General Mary Simon. Photo credit: Clay Pearn.

Simon’s terms as Trent’s seventh Chancellor from 1995-1999, and then again in 2002 following the death of Peter Gzowski, provided plenty of opportunity for the two to cross paths. Her Excellency told me that she felt very much at home returning to Trent’s campus and that she had spent the previous few days visiting friends and various members of the Grant family.

The day represented a major event for Trent, one which continues to centre the university as a central research hub for pertinent questions and issues facing Canada.

“This year is an exciting one for Canadian Studies at Trent, as we celebrate fifty years of interdisciplinary learning in this field,” Lackenbauer explained. “Trent was home to the first department of Canadian Studies, and we continue to advance and promote collaborative research and discussion on issues of relevance to our country as it comes to terms with its past and present and strives to chart a more equitable future.”

More information about the fiftieth anniversary of Canadian Studies at Trent can be found on their website. The department is planning a number of special events to mark this milestone and to celebrate the tradition of interdisciplinary studies at Trent.

Arthur Holiday Fundraiser
Arthur News School of Fish
Written By
Sponsored
Arthur Holiday Fundraiser
Arthur News School of Fish

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf