When Patricia Roy started attending the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in 1965, it was relatively small get-together for a few hundred Canadian academics.
But it was an event that the professor emeritus in history became deeply connected to – this week will be Roy’s 47th Congress, hosted for only the second time in at the University of Victoria. Some 7,000 researchers, students and academics are coming into town for this weekend for Canada’s largest annual academic gathering.
“The first time I went I was awestruck. The name tags on the delegates matched the books and articles I was reading,” Roy said at a Congress kickoff event on Friday. “Now I’m one of the old fogeys. Students come up to me and say ‘I’ve read one of your articles.’ I never know if that’s a compliment.”
Roy taught and worked at UVic starting in 1966 until retiring in 2005 as a highly regarded scholar of Canadian ethnic history, and who has written histories of Vancouver and British Columbia. For her, Congress is a way to keep in touch with friends and fellow historians, and a way to make connections across disciplines.
“It’s an opportunity to meet old friends from across the country for coffee,” Roy said. “Or more likely if you are a historian, in the beer tent.”
Her most “exotic” Congress was in St. John’s N.L. “They are very hospitable and have very good lobster.”
“It’s a chance to see Canada. Over the years I’ve seen every province. I hope our visitors beyond the Rockies leave with a better understanding of this part of the world.”
Kicking off Congress at UVic this year, the federal government announced $167 million in funding for social sciences and humanities university research across Canada. Of the $167 million, $63 million will directly support 78 research projects, and $104 million will support 3,700 graduate and post-doctoral scholarships and fellowships.
Alongside 1,800 academic meetings, keynote talks and presentations for Congress over the week, UVic is hosting a number of free public lectures, concerts and celebrations starting this weekend.
Saturday, June 1, 12:15 to 1:20 p.m. – Louise Arbour leads the “Big Thinking Speakers” lecture series. The former Canadian Supreme Court justice and United Nations chief prosecutor for the international criminal court, will speak on deadly conflict in an interconnected world in the Farquhar Auditorium at the University Centre. “Big Thinking Speakers” continue each day of Congress. See uviccongress2013.ca/program/speakers for the full lineup.
Sunday, June 2, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. – WorldFest cultural festival at the quad a.k.a Celebration Square (next to the McPherson Library) with performers, food tasting, the beer tent, artisan fair.
Monday, June 3, 4:30 p.m. – First Nations drummers will move through the campus from four points and converge on Celebration Square for a dedication ceremony of a carving by Charles Elliot, who carved a totem pole in 1990 for the previous Congress at UVic. The event includes an indigenous meal, an artisan fair, carving demonstrations, and musical performances.
Wednesday, June 5, 7:30 p.m. – Buffy Sainte-Marie Concert. The noted Canadian-American-Cree singer songwriter and musician will perform on the main stage.
Daily performances from 11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday, June 3 to Thursday, June 6, in Celebration Square. See uviccongress2013.ca/program/social-programming for the lineup and times.
Coinciding with the Royal B.C. Museum’s Race to the End of the Earth, UVic is hosting a display of 51 large panels of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s two years living in the Canadian North with the Inuit, before completing his sail of the Northwest Passage, from 1903 to 1906. Survival techniques learned from Inuit people would be critical to Amunden’s success in reaching the South Pole in 1911. The display runs June 3 to 9 in the Maltwood Gallery, in the McPherson Library.