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The Founding College of the University of Toronto
Canadian Flag on snow covered field in front of UC

Message from the Director

Headshot of Robert Diaz

Message from Robert Diaz, Director of the Canadian Studies Program

It is with enthusiasm that I welcome everyone as the new Director of the Canadian Studies Program. Many thanks to the UC community, including past Director Siobhan O’Flynn, Acting Vice-Principal Robert Gibbs, Vice-Principal Emily Gilbert, Principal Markus Stock, and Dean Melanie Woodin for collectively contributing to a vision of Canadian Studies that is global in scope and inclusive in spirit. A hearty welcome to Professor Larissa Lai as well, who as Richard Charles Lee Chair in Chinese Canadian Studies will no doubt energize multiple constituencies within and beyond the university. 

Continuing this vision, I look forward to supporting students as they engage with and enrich the program’s many course offerings and initiatives. I am particularly excited to foreground the intellectual and experiential contributions that the Minor in Asian Canadian Studies and the Certificate in Black Canadian Studies make. Both these offer students the unique opportunity to contextualize Canadian culture and society through the experiences of communities that have been historically excluded or marginalized. 

As a queer Filipino immigrant, I am acutely aware of the responsibility and privilege that being Director of Canadian Studies at an institution like University of Toronto brings. I seek to channel this awareness towards projects that commit to equity as a baseline value, and that acknowledge how legacies of settler colonialism, anti-Black and anti-Asian racism, and other systemic barriers affect how knowledge is created and circulated. As the wildfires raging across the country also show us, contemporary studies of Canada as place and people must attend to the realities of climate change. Here, we have much to learn from Indigenous communities who’ve cared for and cultivated ethical relations with land and the environment even before this country was established. Indeed, as we move forward, a capaciously reimagined Canadian Studies can help us address pressing questions of the day, while committing to meaningful ways of creating and sustaining livable futures for all. 

Robert Diaz, Director of Canadian Studies