“Local Alignments, Global Upheaval” was the theme of the 2019 annual conference of the Peace and Justice Studies Association, co-sponsored this year by PACS-Can. The event, held October 2-4, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, marked the fifth time that PJSA gathered at a Canadian location, highlighting the binational scholarly and activist connections between the Canadian and U.S. peace / justice communities. By coming to Winnipeg, conference-goers returned to the site of the Canadian PJSA conference, held in Winnipeg in 2007. The theme of alignments and upheavals also reflected the centenary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, the largest labour uprising in Canadian history and a major factor in shaping social relations in the city and beyond over the last 100 years.
The event provided the mix of academic research, practitioner reflections and activist calls to action that PJSA conference-goers have come to expect. In addition to 26 different panels on a variety of peace and justice topics, conference participants were also challenged, enlightened and inspired by several special plenary session on themes such as the effects of the historical erasure of indigenous peoples along the Texas-Mexico border, sustaining the struggle through intergenerational indigenous activism in Winnipeg, and the challenges of inclusion and accessibility.
The range of panels, workshops, and presentations are best summarized in the words of Laurie Eagles, a Canadian Mennonite University graduate student who attended the conference:
“The presenters were amazing. I had no idea how far people travel to come to this! It was so exciting to hear international opinions on Winnipeg, and learn about other communities. The itinerary featured a little bit of everything: climate change, food, small towns, children’s books, and social media. I simply hadn’t considered peacebuilding through, say, altering social media memes, catfishing white supremacists, painting a butterfly on a city bus, or encouraging children’s literature to reflect forced migration. I am forever grateful for these lessons.”
— Neil Funk-Unrau, PACS-Can Board Member
Menno Simons College
co-editor of Peace Research: The Canadian Journal of Peace and Conflict Studies
Photography by Matt Meyer