CACLALS Withdraws from Congress 2021

Dear CACLALS Members,

We have made the difficult decision to withdraw our conference from Congress in solidarity with the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA). This decision was not made lightly and does not preclude our future participation in Congress, particularly for an in-person conference when such a meeting is possible. However, the CACLALS executive believes that pulling out is the best course of action for the reasons detailed below.

We have outlined our major concerns about holding our conference at Congress in a previous open letter circulated to The Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences (FHSS) and our membership. These positions have not significantly changed, but our decision to go forward after consultation with the CACLALS team has. We came to this unanimous decision after a lengthy discussion that considered our mandate as an association devoted to postcolonial, decolonial, and antiracist work, concerns from members who withdrew from our conference, the themes on the table in our current CFP, the encouraging and vast show of solidarity that has accompanied the BCSA’s decisions, and our responsibility to confront racism in our own community and beyond. For these reasons, it became apparent in our deliberations that Congress is not the right fit for our conference this year. As we go forward with an independent conference, we view this as an opportunity to consider what CACLALS can do to create a more inclusive environment for our members in the future.

This decision should not reflect on our fellow associations in any way. We respect our partner organizations’ decisions, whether to continue at Congress or hold independent conferences. We have been in communication with other associations as this situation develops and we have been encouraged by the level of collegiality and ethical consideration these meetings have involved. Nonetheless, we emphasize that our final decision was made by the CACLALS executive alone. We therefore do not wish to undermine the plans of any of our partner organizations continuing with Congress this year, nor put pressure on any to remove themselves from Congress. We also applaud the efforts of those organizations ensuring that conversations around anti-Blackness and decolonization continue at this year’s gathering.  

Our executive makes this decision while acknowledging that Congress has taken steps to make future congresses more inclusive and welcoming to all participants. We especially acknowledge the work of the EDID committee, and hope they remain a fixture of future Congress events.

Though we are not yet certain what form our independent conference will take or what our keynote events will be, we will update our members in the coming weeks. For now, we assure our members that those papers that have already been accepted will be worked into the independent conference program. We are doing our best to ensure that we have a robust program while also reducing the cost to our members. We also commit to offering free admission to Black and Indigenous graduate students attending our conference. For those members who have already registered for CACLALS at Congress, please note that refunds for your Congress registration are available until April 15, information for which can be found on the Congress 2021 Registration page. If you have concerns about this process, please contact our Secretary-Treasurer, Jesse Arseneault (

We wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you soon. More information on our conference will follow.


The CACLALS Executive