Update | Conference 2024 @ McGill University

Published on May 27, 2024

Over the past few weeks, there has been a student-led encampment and labour dispute (Faculty of Law) at McGill University (The site of CAAS Conference 2024).

CAAS stands in solidarity with the students who are protesting at McGill as well as on other campuses across the country.

CAAS also stands in solidarity with the members of the Association of McGill Professors of Law (AMPL) in their ongoing dispute with McGill University. We join AMPL in calling upon the university’s administrators to engage in productive communication and negotiate in good faith with the AMPL to bring the strike action to an end.

While CAAS registers its support and solidarity with AMPL and the student-led encampment, we must also acknowledge the unique challenges our members face. CAAS members cannot afford to boycott Congress 2024 for several reasons. As scholars of Africa, our association represents a demographically and intellectually marginalised community in Canada. Our association has thrived since 1962 only because of the sacrifices of our members, despite their experiences of racism, structural inequality, and the inequitable distribution of career opportunities in the Canadian academy. Our annual gatherings are critical community-building moments and are anticipated by our members.

CAAS members would suffer disproportionate financial losses if the conference were to be cancelled or the in-person component removed. Our members experience severe visa barriers to the extent we have an advocacy group Visa Barrier. Despite this challenge, an unprecedented 60% of our 400 conference participants this year have eked out substantial amounts to apply for the Canadian visa.

The Association of McGill Professors of Law (AMPL) has been in touch with CAAS requesting our solidarity in their labour dispute with the University. While AMPL has publicly stated that they view attending Congress as “crossing a picket line”, they have agreed to issue picket passes to CAAS conference attendees given our extenuating circumstances.  Please note that these picket passes effectively signal that pass holders are not considered to be crossing picket lines. We will be in touch prior to the conference with more information about the logistics of obtaining these passes. AMPL has also extended an invitation to our members to join their picket lines and rallies or Days of Action. 

We are making efforts to organise all our panels in a hybrid format and to maximise our use of the Congress virtual platform. The hybrid format allows us to reduce our physical presence on campus while meeting the needs of our student and precariously employed members within Canada, as well as those travelling from abroad who have made non-refundable flight and accommodation reservations.

While many of our panels will inevitably (given our circumstances) be held in McGill buildings, we will be holding some important sessions off-site, including our Annual General Meeting, a book launch event, and a special session featuring Gracia Kasoki Katahwa (the first Black woman mayor of Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce) and Guy Mushagalusa Chigoho (Managing Director, Afromusée).


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