In the popular imagination, agriculture is often seen as a site of oppression and exploitation of Black people. However, Karina Vernon’s talk will reveal agriculture as an important but under-celebrated site of resistance and freedom for Black people in Canada. By looking at examples of particular Black farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, their histories of migration, and their literary and oral cultures, this talk will reveal how farms provided the ground for Black sovereignty, collective agency, and community resilience in Canada. Finally, this talk will consider how the important memory of Black “freedom farms” are being kept alive in the present through story and song.
Karina Vernon is an associate professor at the University of Toronto Scarborough, where she researches and teaches in the areas of Canadian and Black Canadian literature, Black aesthetics, archives, critical pedagogy, and Black-Indigenous solidarities. She is editor of The Black Prairie Archives: An Anthology, released in 2020. The book publishes for the first time, writing that ranges from work by nineteenth- century black fur traders and pioneers to contemporary writing of the twenty-first century. These writings enrich our understanding of black Canada by bringing to light the prairies; black histories, cultures, and presences. She will soon publish a companion volume, Critical Readings in the Black Prairie Archives.
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