Canadian Studies lecture to examine national parks and Canadian identity

Hosted by the Canadian Studies Program and student club in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, the Canada Like You’ve Never Heard it Before Lecture Series explores everything from economics and indigenous issues to Canadian government and poetry.

The next instalment of the series will be delivered by Cate Sandilands, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and Canada Research Chair in Sustainability & Culture. The lecture will take place Monday, March 21, in 001 Vanier College from 6 to 7pm.

Sandilands is the author of numerous publications in environmental literature, history and cultural studies, including writings on national parts, queer and feminist ecologies, ecocriticism and environmental public cultures.

Sandilands’ lecture, titled “A State of Nature? National Parks and Canadian National Identity”, places a different kind of lens on Canada’s national parks. Anyone who has ever visited one and wondered why there are so many rules, trails and signs in the “wilderness” should consider coming to this free public lecture.

Above: Cate Sandilands and the unnatural signage in the Bruce Peninsula National Park

“Canadian national parks are often referred to as ‘national treasures’, part of a public understanding of heritage that view them as a sort of repository of the essence of Canada. In this view, parks ‘preserve’ a nature that is the origin of the nation, a key part of our collective identity as Canadians,” says Sandilands.

“In fact, national parks are deeply political creations. They ‘organize’ nature in specific ways, and have served a variety of economic and other agendas since the first Canadian national park – Rocky Mountains Park, now Banff – was established in 1887,” she says.

“This presentation will consider the politics of national parks over the last 125 years, with a particular focus on the dynamics of ‘national natures’ as they are a part of different economic, political and ideological trajectories for Canadian identity,” says Sandilands. “Thinking about parks solely as sites of preservation obscures a far more interesting history.”

The Canada Like You’ve Never Heard it Before Lecture Series series showcases the breadth and depth of Canadian scholarship and research at York. The series was organized by Jon Sufrin, coordinator of the Canadian Studies Program. This academic year, several senior faculty and two Canada Research Chairs have delivered presentations.

Sponsors of the series include: the Dean’s Office, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies; Stong College; Vanier College; Winters College; New College; Calumet College; Founders College; Students for Canadian Studies; and the Canadian Studies Program.

For upcoming lectures and speaker bios, visit the Canada Like You’ve Never Heard it Before Lecture Series website.