Focus on Africa: Africa and its Diasporas
September 17, 2009
This symposium was co-sponsored with the Africa Working Group (SFU). Participants included M.G. Vassanji (novelist), Mara Leichtman (Michigan State), Rima Berns-McGowen (Toronto), George Dei (OISE-Toronto), Felicitas Becker (SFU), Derryl MacLean (SFU), and James Busumtwi-Sam (SFU). This three-day conference took a critical and retrospective look at the nature and capacities of the African Diasporas. ‘Africa and its Diasporas’ include not only people of African descent living/working outside Africa, but also people of diverse socio-cultural, linguistic, racial and religious identities and their descendants, who maintain some form of association or identification with Africa. These include but are not restricted to people of Arab and Levantine descent, from the Indian and Chinese sub-continents, as well as from Europe.
The symposium and dialogue sessions brought together a collection of prominent speakers and participants from all over the world including university faculty, graduate students, officials from government and international organizations, as well as representatives of the mass media, community groups, and NGOs. They explored the complex and diverse social realities of the African Diasporas and challenged traditional notions of what it means to be ‘African’, examined the historical contributions of these Diasporas to Africa and the wider world, and assessed their contemporary contributions.
Africa and its Diasporas provided an important opportunity for people from the African Diaspora in the Greater Vancouver area to convene with other members of their local communities as well as with community activists and experts from around North America and Africa. This symposium sought to foster stronger relationships between individuals and communities in order to enable members of the Diaspora to leverage community resources in ways that have a positive impact on Canadian public policy outcomes.