Friday, March 15, 2013

CSSC Conference: One Coin, Two Sides: Hybridization of Cultures in Canada

Canadian Studies Centre and Canadian Studies Student Circle invite  everybody to participate in a student conference organized this year as part of our annual festival, Days of Canadian Culture.

May 13th 2013
Organized by Canadian Studies Student Circle,
at Canadian Studies Centre, Institute of English Cultures and Literatures,
University of Silesia,
Sosnowiec, Poland
One Coin, Two Sides:
Hybridization of Cultures in Canada

Call for Papers

Cultural hybridization as a term refers to the production of new cultural identities through the merging of previously separate antecedents. Yet, despite academia’s cross-examination of it, cultural hybridization may also be a slippery concept as it can be associated with dislocation, loss of tradition, and social unrest.

As Canada, which is apparently faithful to the principles of multidisciplinary and multiculturalism, still has to face and deal with intense conflicts that go beyond the limits of academic discourse - an alternative to multiculturalism is “hybridity” or “cultural hybridization.” Cultural hybridization allows a process, fluctuation, and negotiation of identity rather than giving birth to a new “hybrid” form of identity that is a sum of distinct parts.

Cultural hybridization, multiplicity, and intersectionality are not difficult to notice in Canada: race, ethnicity, gender, class, and other factors continue to form visceral parts of the experience of Canadian minorities. Many Canadian minority writers attempt to build bridges across multiple boundaries existing in such complex multicultural and multilingual societies.

The organizers of the conference invite you to consider the specificity of the cultural hybridization occurring in contemporary Canadian society and literatures, from the point of view of the politics, history, sociology, culture, literature, linguistics and translation studies. The aim of the conference is to examine the significance of cultural hybridization in Canada and to generate a transdisciplinary perception of Canadian hybridity that paves the way for a wider application of this crucial concept in Canadian studies.

We particularly encourage contributions (10-15 minutes) that deal specifically with the main topic of the conference. Papers developed from such presentations will be reviewed and considered for post-conference publication. Presentations may also concern the following categories (themes):

  • minority of Indigenous cultures and literatures;
  • majority and minority Canadian literatures (ethnic, racial, class, gender);
  • identitarian Canadian spaces: diasporic communities, enclaves, integration/disintegration, inclusion/exclusion;
  • transnational, transcultural, and hybrid identities;
  • narratives of encounter; travel narratives;
  • representation of ethnicity and cultural hybridization as a problem;
  • Canadian cultural criticism;
  • crossing cultural/national boundaries;
  • gender and sexuality within the Canadian multicultural framework;
  • otherness in Canadian literatures and cultures;
  • anglophone and francophone literatures in Canada; 
  • Canadian transcultural dialogues, as well as conflicts; 
  •  cultural and linguistic diversity in Canada, minority languages in Canada;
  • memory and personal life-experiences;
  • policies and practices of cultural and national identity and diversity;

Paper submission details:
(1) Please send a 250-word proposal for a 20-minute presentation (in English or French), explaining the overall focus. Include your name and institute.
(2)Proposals should be submitted electronically to:
(3) Conference fee: 30 PLN
(4) Deadline for abstracts: 10 April, 2013
(5) About Canadian Studies Centre and Canadian Studies Student Circle:
Conference organizers:
Mgr Alina Deja-Grygierczyk (CSSC Supervisor, Head of the Organizing Committee)
Mgr Agnieszka Podruczna (Secretary)
Kinga Kowalska (Head of CSSC)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Canada Study Trip 2012 - Master Post

From March 3rd to 24th, 2012, three of our students went on a study trip to Vancouver and Vancouver Island financed by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) "Student Mobility Support Program". The grant was won by dr Eugenia Sojka (director of Canadian Studies Centre, Institute of English Cultures and Literatures) for a project "Transcultural Journeys into Canadian Indigenous and Diasporic Drama, Theatre and Performance. Polish Encounters with Spectacular Others". Here is a detailed account of the trip:

Sunday, 4 March 2012 - Canada Study Trip Day One
Monday, 5 March 2012 - University of British Columbia
Tuesday, 6 Match 2012 - Urban Mountains
Wednesday, 7 March 2012 - Gardens and Totem Poles
Thursday, 8 March 2012 - Nanaimo
Friday, 9 March 2012 - Colloquium
Saturday, 10 March 2012 - Snuneymuxw
Sunday, 11 March 2012 - Potlatch
Monday, 12 March 2012 - Bookworming
Tuesday, 13 March 2012 - More Book Devouring...
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 - Library in a Blizzard
Thursday, 15 March 2012 - Chief Doug White III
Friday, 16 March 2012 - Royal BC Museum in Victoria
Saturday, 17 March 2012 - Pierogies!
Sunday, 18 March 2012 - Sunday Walk
Monday, 19 March 2012 - Visual Arts Department
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 - First Nations Program - Yearend Celebration
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 to Friday, 23 March 2012 - Alert Bay
Sunday, 25 March 2012 - Hych'ka!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


After nearly 25 hours, we arrived back in Katowice! Our trip to Canada has ended, but we’re sure never going to forget it. ;)

We would like to extend a special thank you to Dr Eugenia Sojka for winning the grant that allowed us to visit Canada, as well as organizing the bulk of our trip. Once again thank you very much!

Also, we would like to thank Diane Roberts and Rosemary Georgeson of urban ink, Vancouver, for a warm welcome and kind words. Special thanks go to Steve and Deborah Lane of Nanaimo, for their hospitality, sense of humour, amazing dinners and support. Thank you to Laura Cranmer, Daniel Burgoyne, Mark Taugher and Gregory Ball of Vancouver Island University for all their help and interest. Thank you to Gloria Cranmer Webster, for welcoming us into her home, and to her granddaughter Emily, for the dedicated tour around Alert Bay. 
And, last but not least, thank you to all who helped us and were kind to us! You made this trip happen!

Hych'ka! :)

Saying Goodbye to Vancouver...

...and to the Rocky Mountains.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Alert Bay

On Friday, March 21st, we said our goodbyes to Steve and Deborah Lane, and set off for Alert Bay. We took a scenic route – the bus to Port McNeill went along the East Coast of Vancouver Island, stopping in every major town on the way, including Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Courtenay and Campbell River, then veered inland to give us amazing mountain views (with Mt. Cain among others) near a tiny stop in Woss, only to cross the Nimpkish River just before arriving at our destination. From Port McNeill it was only a 45 minute ferry ride to the small, beautiful Cormorant Island and the town of Alert Bay. The whole journey took us around seven hours.

A View from the Bus Window. :)
In Alert Bay we were greeted by Gloria Cranmer Webster and her granddaughter Emily, who welcomed us into their home with a mouthwatering dinner of salmon. We stayed up late talking, and woke up early the next day so that we could make the most of our one-day visit. We started with the U’mista, a Cultural Centre and Museum, where we could see the Potlatch Collection of masks and other regalia returned to Alert Bay after they were confiscated following an illegal Potlatch thrown by Dan Cranmer in 1921. The regalia are presented not behind glass, but free-standing, as the Kwakwaka’wakw community felt that they have been kept in boxes long enough. 

In Front of the U'mista.
U'mista From the Back.
The U’mista Cultural Centre is situated on the coast next to a dreary looking derelict building that used to be a residential school. Institutions of this kind are a dark spot in Canadian history – first established in 1840s with the purpose of gathering Indigenous children in one place and “civilizing” them, they were places of horror in which the children not only lost their language and contact with their families and culture, but many of them were also abused and even killed. Nowadays, the trauma of residential schools is still very much part of First Nations reality, and the building in Alert Bay is a case in point – it is considered a cursed place, yet it still stands, frightening passers-by with gaping, broken windows and falling bricks, a constant reminder and an eyesore. 

Residential School.
After visiting the U’mista, we met with Emily, who gave us a tour around the island, driving us to the Big House, where the Potlatches are held. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside without the keys, but we could still admire the beautiful artwork decorating the building, as well as the totem pole in front of it, which, at 173 feet, is the tallest totem pole in the world. Later, Emily arranged for us to meet Wayne Alfred, a member of the Ha’matsa Society, who dances during Potlatch. He agreed to answer our questions about the Potlatch and other aspects of Indigenous culture, and gave a brief demonstration of the Ha’matsa Dance depicting the myth of a cannibal returning to the village from the forest and being tamed back into a human being. 

The World's Tallest Totem Pole.

The Interview With Wayne Alfred.
Next on our agenda was cooking dinner – again, we made pierogies - as a thank you to Gloria Cranmer Webster for her kindness and hospitality. Afterwards, Emily took us for a walk in the forest and along the beach, and we ended up circling the entire island. :) Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay up late again, because we needed a very early start the next day. Armed with Gloria’s delicious salmon sandwiches, we began our journey back on the first ferry to Port McNeill at 6:40 a.m., and arrived in Vancouver around 8 p.m., having travelled by two ferries, three buses and a train. Let’s just say it was a long day. :P

With Emily On Our Walk.

With Gloria Cranmer Webster and her Granddaughter, Emily.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Nations Program - Yearend Celebration

Laura Cranmer invited us today to the First Nations Studies’ Yearend Celebration. It was unlike any such event we have ever participated in. First of all, it opened with a song and a prayer said by the Elders in Residence, blessing all the guests and thanking the Snuneymuxw for giving permission to hold the celebration on their territory. All participants were required to stand up and many held up their hands in prayer and thanksgiving. After the official beginning of the celebration, Louise Mandell, the honoured guest speaker, gave a lecture about her involvement in the Aboriginal Rights movement and about the legal and political situation of First Nations in Canada. She spoke at length about the founding of the Assembly of First Nations and their 1980 manifesto in Ottawa entitled Declaration of First Nations, as well as the subsequent fight for treaty rights of Aboriginal Peoples. 

Songs with the Accompaniment of Drums.

Members of the Faculty with the Snuneymuxw Chief (second left).
After the lecture we attended a splendid feast in honour of the graduating students of the First Nations Program. The meal was followed by several aboriginal songs performed with the accompaniment of drums, as well as other cross-cultural performances courtesy of first year students of the program (a song from the Republic of South Africa and a dance from Japan, among others). Many thanks were expressed on behalf of lecturers, students, and the First Nations elders sharing their wisdom during classes. What was most heartwarming was the welcoming atmosphere that made the Yearend Celebration more like a family gathering rather than a university event. These extremely close bonds formed between the faculty and students is what sets the First Nations Program aside from other programs at Vancouver Island University and we felt very honoured to take a small part in their celebrations.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Visual Arts Department

In the morning we met with Gregory Ball, who took us on a tour of VIU’s Visual Arts Department. We were let into various classrooms to see where VIU’s painters, computer graphics designers, sculptors and printmakers learn how to make their art. We also saw some of the students at work and found out about the steps one needs to take in order to make a print. 

With Gregory Ball in the Tamagawa Garden, VIU Campus.
Later, Gregory lead us to the Nanaimo ArtGallery, where we could admire the works of Amy Loewan and Deryk Houston. Amy Loewan’s pieces were particularly interesting: she had woven large mats from folded pieces of rice paper, intertwining within them words in many different languages, all describing the idea of peace. There was an additional installation that allowed guests of the gallery to write their thoughts about peace on long strips of paper and then weave them into a wire net. The strips would later be used by the artist to create a new work of art.

One of Amy Loewen's Installations.
After the gallery, we once again headed for the library. :P It’ll be hard to part with this particular building on the VIU campus!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Walk

It was a freezing morning for a Sunday walk – even though we were all bundled up, we were still chilled to the bone. But, despite the cold, the atmosphere was very cheerful – everyone was still mentioning our Polish dinner from the day before. :) We walked in a forest this time – technically it’s all private property destined to be cut down for development, so in a couple more years it’ll be a fully-functioning neighbourhood, but for now it’s a nice retreat for hikers, and a good place to let the dogs off the leash. The two Labradors, once let on the loose, turn out to be much more energetic than their dopey-eyes suggest. :P

On the Sunday Walk with Deborah (left) and Karen (right).
The afternoon was spent quite studiously – there were a lot of things connected with our project or our individual work that we needed to catch up on, so a free Sunday afternoon needed to be sacrificed. ;)