CACLALS Conference Registration

Dear CACLALS Members,

Please find a draft program for our upcoming virtual, independent conference here. You should have, by now, received information about our upcoming conference by email. Our CACLALS events will be held from June 7 to 11, 2021. Also, the fees and registration information for the conference is available below.

Please note that, in support of the recommendations by the Congress EDID committee and the BCSA, we are making our conference FREE for Black and Indigenous student members, as well as Black and Indigenous sessional faculty. If this applies to you and you would like to register, please email the CACLALS Treasurer, Jesse Arseneault, at

There are four registration tiers:

  • Students and sessional faculty who are Black and/or Indigenous   FREE
  • Student members                                                                            $10
  • Faculty members                                                                             $30
  • Non-members                                                                                  $50

Those who register will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours upon receipt of payment, and will be sent the links to access our virtual events in the week preceding the start of the conference.


There are two methods of payment for conference registration fees:

  1. E-transfer: Please send the appropriate amount for your conference registration via e-transfer to We have requested that you use a specific password for these transfers, which you can find in the email you received containing registration information.
  2. Posted Cheque: Please mail a cheque to the treasurer at the following address, ensuring that your check arrives no later than June 4, 2021:

c/o Jesse Arseneault
9 ½ Elizabeth St.
St. Catharines, ON
L2R 2K8

Please note that, if you are presenting a paper at the conference, to appear on the final program, you must also have an active, paid CACLALS membership. To update your membership, please visit our membership page on the website.

We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

The CACLALS Executive

REMINDER: Name Change Panel Saturday, April 10 at 1:00pm EST

Dear CACLALS Members,

We invite you to join us on Saturday, April 10 at 1:00pm EST for a panel to discuss the upcoming change in our organization’s name.

You can access the Zoom link to attend this meeting in the email that was sent to all CACLALS members. The link is available in the PDF attachment to that email. If you have not received an email, please contact

The request to change CACLALS’ name has been on our association’s agenda for many years, was unanimously supported at the 2019 AGM in Vancouver, BC, and submitted as a motion prior to our planned 2020 conference, though that event was unfortunately canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members have expressed concern about the “commonwealth” element of our name, and the need to distance our association from the colonial history represented by this institution.

Our panel will involve short presentations from long-serving CACLALS members, including John C. Ball, Mariam Pirbhai, Pamela McCallum, and Ranjini Mendis, who will speak about the history and mandate of our organization, the history of movement toward a change in name, our relationship with our parent organization, ACLALS, and potential alternate names for our organization. One potential suggestion that garnered support at our 2019 AGM was the Canadian Association for Postcolonial Studies, or “CAPS.”

The meeting will consist of:
• Panelist’s presentations (20 min)
• Open discussion on potential new names (40 min)

Following the discussion, CACLALS members will be sent a link at which they can vote for a new name, and we will ratify the chosen name at the next AGM, which will be held during our independent 2021 annual conference. Details for this event will be announced shortly.

We look forward to seeing you on April 10th for a generative discussion. We also wish you all the best during these difficult times.


The CACLALS Executive

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

Open Letter to the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences (FHSS)

We respectfully submit this letter on behalf of the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Language and Literature Studies (CACLALS) to address the requests put forward by the Black Canadian Studies Association (BCSA) and FHSS’s recent response. The following requests are outlined in the February 9, 2021 public statement released by the BCSA:

  1. That Congress fees be waived for BCSA student-members and community members; and
  2. That a formal commitment be made to a Black Studies theme for Congress in the near future.


FHSS has now responded to this letter, which raises serious concerns about the accountability of Congress to Black scholars, especially in the wake of the racial profiling that occurred at the Vancouver Congress, a tumultuous year of anti-Black violence, and global resistance to racist policing. Moreover, Scholar Strike Canada in September 2020 emphasized that numerous academic community members across what many call Canada stand in solidarity with confronting structural, institutional, and interpersonal racisms that continue to permeate everyday life in the academy and beyond. We recognize that Congress has acceded to these requests, but stress that—particularly where a future congress dedicated to a Black studies theme is concerned—FHSS must act immediately on their promise. Given the urgency of the issues that could potentially be taken up at a Congress that centralizes Black studies, FHSS needs to follow through on this theme now. Promises will not restore faith in FHSS until they are realized.

We declare our solidarity with the BCSA’s requests, both out of respect to their organization’s right to hold a conference in which barriers to Black scholars and community members are eliminated, and to respect to CACLALS’ own membership, which consists of a coalition of scholarly interests and positionalities. This includes members who are Black, Indigenous, and people of colour. Many of our members are also settlers who negotiate their work alongside Indigenous colleagues. Our organization, whose scope involves post- and de-colonial literary and cultural studies, is deeply invested in confronting intersecting forms of colonial oppression that continue to structure the worlds in which we live and work, as well as to confront our own association’s complicity in a system that facilitates the ongoing dispossession of Black lives.

With our association’s purview in mind, our membership was encouraged by Congress 2020’s decision to amend its theme to centre confrontations of anti-Blackness and colonialism. This emphasized a Federation that was attentive to the concerns and demands of its membership, especially those most vulnerable to institutional racism. The global COVID-19 pandemic dismantled that possibility, but it also exacerbated the already unequal access to healthcare, safe work environments, and funding that our colleagues of colour face. This necessitates an immediate response by scholars in the Federation to racism in our current context. Considering the notion that, as the BCSA points out, “a Congress centred on the theme of ‘Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism’ has yet to be realized,” we join in the call for Congress to once again act immediately to amend the theme of one of its future conferences in response to the crises that immediately affect our members and demand our vigilance today. We also encourage that the Congress Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Decolonization (EDID) be at the centre of any decisions regarding future Congress themes tackling anti-Black racism and decolonization.

We support BCSA’s requests because the exclusion of the BCSA from Congress affects not only one organization, but many others, including our own. It puts our current conference in crisis. In that many BCSA members have ties with CACLALS, the opportunity to hold conferences alongside one another grants scholars whose concerns overlap with both organizations an opportunity to build interdisciplinary conversations and solidarities. Given that CACLALS did not hold a conference last year, we have chosen to continue with last year’s theme, “Ecologies of Alliance in a Divided Age,” while also welcoming contributions centring Indigneous issues in relation to Congress 2021’s theme of “Northern Relations.” We retain our commitment to last year’s theme, whose central concerns involve anti-Black racism, in part because we maintain that this conversation has not been given sufficient attention at Congress.

Moreover, one of our central events, the Indigenous Studies Roundtable—an annual discussion co-hosted with the Indigenous Literary Studies Association (ILSA)—has been put into crisis by the exclusion of the BCSA. This event is, every year, one of our best attended, and close to our members’ hearts for the valuable conversation on Indigenous themes it communicates to our members. It also affords members an opportunity to listen to influential voices in Indigenous literary studies. This year’s theme is slated to be on “Black and Indigenous Solidarities.” This is the second time the Roundtable is centring this theme because it demands ongoing consideration. With the BCSA choosing not to attend congress, we may not be able in good conscience to continue with this theme, particularly if our Black colleagues were not able to attend out of commitment to the BCSA’s decision. Having this conversation in the absence of many of our colleagues most affected by it has caused us to reconsider the ethics of holding this event, which risks significant disruptions to our program, membership, and attendance. This issue also extends to our broader conference theme. How can we foreground issues of anti-Black racism if our Black colleagues choose not to attend out of solidarity with the BCSA? How could we go forward with any conference theme without these members, our indispensable colleagues, students, and community representatives who enrich our scholarly discussions? While CACLALS is slated to hold a conference this year, we are deeply concerned about the exclusion of many of our members.

We are troubled by our colleagues’ exclusion from this year’s conference precisely because Congress continues to be a meaningful and important venue for our members to exchange ideas, produce scholarship, and amass community. We therefore submit this letter not to create opposition or discourage, but to emphasize what could be accomplished if the Federation were to, once again, realize its commitment to vulnerable members of its community. We also believe that any host institution would welcome a commitment to confronting racism, and invite the next host institution to volunteer to support this theme.

We at CACLALS remain committed to confronting anti-Black racism and colonialism, both in and beyond our community. We also welcome the efforts of the Federation beginning to work through these myriad issues with the announcement of the EDID committee, and wish to express our particular gratitude to the committee’s members for their ongoing labours. We welcome direction from this committee on how CACLALS can play a part in this process because, as we see it, these labours go beyond the responsibility of a single committee. They require the support, participation, and commitment of the wider community and FHSS has the resources to mobilize widespread community conversation. We regard this as a conversation that is direly needed not only for marginalized Federation members, but everyone in our community, all of whom bear responsibility, though unequally, for dismantling ongoing colonialism and anti-Black racism that permeate our institutions and lives.

FHSS must act now.


The CACLALS Executive

CFP: Special BLM Issue of Studies in Canadian Literature

Studies in Canadian Literature is accepting submissions to a forthcoming special issue taking up concerns in the Black Lives Matter movement. The Deadline is January 6, 2021. For more information, please see this linked CFP.

The CACLALS 2021 CFP is here!

The CFP for CACLALS 2021 is out now! In light of the COVID-19 pandemic we will be holding a virtual conference. Please note that the theme remains unchanged from our deferred 2020 conference, so there are instructions for both those who wish to present the same paper they proposed last year and those who wish to propose new papers and panels.

For those wishing to present a paper that was accepted during last year’s CFP, your proposal is automatically accepted for 2021. We only ask that you notify us. All instructions can be found at the linked document below.

CACLALS 2021 Virtual Conference CFP.

Thank you for your patience. We look forward to seeing all of you after a two-year absence!

Wishing you all the best,

The CACLALS Executive

CFP – Stories from the Margins: Indigenous Connections to the Land


Stories from the Margins: Indigenous Connections to the Land  

University of Northumbria 29-30 June 2021  

Confirmed Keynote Speakers  

  • Prof. Lill Tove Fredriksen (UiT The Arctic University of Norway) 
  • Conversation between Prof. David Stirrup (University of Kent, U.K.) and Anishinaabe, Métis and settler-Irish artist Elizabeth LaPensee 


The term “Indigenous” encompasses a wide range of peoples, diverse culturally, linguistically and geographically. Originating from the Latin root indigena, which means “sprung from the land”, it has been used in international and United Nations contexts to define peoples in relation to their colonisers.  

While there are many differences among Indigenous groups, land plays a foundational role in Indigenous belief systems and lifeways: 

“all healing comes from the earth. Plants not only have healing powers, but they communicate with us… The spirit of the earth and of the land … is central to our understanding of the world and our well-being as Indigenous peoples…Land is the foundation of everything for [Indigenous peoples], now and into the future.” (C. Belcourt 2018, 114-116) 

Relationships to the land are familial, intimate, intergenerational, spiritual and instructive for Indigenous peoples and it is these relations that Western settler societies sought to destroy as part of their colonial project of territorial conquest and forced assimilation policies. Indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to how colonial empires have compromised their rights to traditional lands, territories and natural resources. 

We invite proposals for papers that examine how Indigenous stories – told, written, sung or performed – reflect Indigenous connections to the land and how these relations have been affected by the colonial enterprise. “[S]tories are a type of medicine and, like medicine, can be healing or poisonous depending on the dosage or type”, Terry Tayofa (2005), an Indigenous psychologist from the Warm Springs and Taos Pueblo, explains. How does Indigenous storytelling contribute to understanding Indigenous identity and the crucial role of land in Indigenous ways of life? How can Indigenous storytelling subvert colonial narratives of the land? How can storytelling contribute to addressing colonial exploitations of the land and its resources? How can storytelling assist Indigenous peoples in restoring their intimate relations to land and its natural gifts?  


We welcome proposals for a range of presentation formats, including traditional 20-minute conference papers, panels, video presentations and we are open to alternative and creative formats.  

Topics that may be covered include, but are not limited to, how Indigenous storytelling addresses the following: 

  • Land and Indigenous identity 
  • Land, healing and ceremony 
  • Land and Indigenous creation stories 
  • Settler-colonial myths about the land 
  • Land and the colonial space 
  • Land claims and broken treaties 
  • Land and Indigenous urban spaces 
  • Land and the Indigenous (female) body 
  • Land, Indigeneity and environmental justice 
  • Land, Indigeneity and climate change 

Paper proposals and video presentations: please send 250-300 word abstracts, accompanied by a 100-word biographical statement (state affiliation if applicable) and 3-4 keywords. 

Panels: panel proposals of no more than 3 speakers should include a 100 word summary of the overall theme, plus 250-300 word abstracts and 3-4 keywords per speaker. Please include short biographical statements (100 words – state affiliation if applicable) for all contributors, including chairs/respondents. 

Social distancing rules permitting, the conference will take place at the University of Northumbria, with the option of live-streaming presentations if the current pandemic prevents on-site gatherings.  

Please e-mail your proposal in a Word document to conference organiser Francesca Mussi of the University of Northumbria at by 11th December 2020

New Books by CACLALS Members

New in WLUP’s Indigenous Studies series! Two works by Innu author An Antane Kapesh, translated into English for the very first time.
The English-language stories are presented with facing pages of the revised Innu text. Translation from French and Afterword by Sarah Henzi, Simon Fraser University.


From Johanne to Janaki is the story of a woman’s journey, in 1895, from Denmark to India, where she immersed herself in the country’s rich heritage and its fight for Independence. Her writings, such as “The Hindu Woman’s Position” and “The Caste System” reveal her discerning views on cultural aspects of India, and her letters record her friendships with some key figures, including Annie Besant, in India’s political scene.

It is a work, in equal parts, of love and scholarship, as Nilambri moves from the personal to the historical aspects of her grandmother’s remarkable journey at a time when women had just started emerging from patriarchy to a measure of independence.”

Here is a link to the US site:

And the one below to the UK site:


CACLALS Stands in Solidarity With Scholar Strike Canada

Dear CACLALS Members,

Scholar Strike Canada begins today, September 9th, and continues into tomorrow, September 10th. This two-day event marks a collective labour action “to protest anti-Black, racist, and colonial police brutality in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere” (ScholarStrikeCanada). For those participating in the strike, we stand in solidarity with you, as well as with Black Lives Matter and other anti-racist organizations condemning the ongoing legacies of the colonial worlds in which we live. For those unable to participate in the strike, especially those in precarious positions, we invite you to contribute in whatever way you can. This might include using class time to address your students on the subject of anti-Blackness and police violence, communicating your solidarity with the strike to your institution, inviting your institution to take a more proactive stance against racist violence, or participating in the many teach-ins and talks unfolding across the country today. A full roster of events and talks can be found at

To keep our members informed of events that may be unfolding in their area, we invite you to advertise them with CACLALS. You can post information on Twitter, tagging the CACLALS page, so that more of our members can view the strike days’ offerings. You can also email our Secretary-Treasurer, Jesse Arseneault at We will promptly post any public events we receive notice of on our website and Twitter page.


The CACLALS Executive

CACLALS Annual Reports

Dear CACLALS Members,

The Annual President’s and Treasurer’s reports have been posted, and we invite you to review them here. We wish our members the best as we enter a new academic year and look forward to sharing news of how our 2021 events will take shape.


The CACLALS Executive