Initiative studying populism marks launch with film screening

The screening of a short film on the polarization of Canadian identity will mark the launch of a new initiative led by York University that aims to study the dimensions and impacts of populism in Canada.

Taking place Sept. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Glendon Campus, the event will screen the short film Canada Day, to be followed by a Q-and-A and reception. All members of the York community are invited to attend the launch.

Canada Day, directed by Efe Peker (assistant professor of sociology and political science at the University of Ottawa), was an official selection of the Weengushk International Film Festival. The film captures encounters among protesters, inviting audiences to reflect on the polarization of Canadian identity in the 21st century.

In the spring and summer of 2021, more than one thousand unmarked graves were discovered near residential school sites across Canada, considered to belong mostly to Indigenous children. Filmed on July 1 of the same year in Ottawa, Canada Day juxtaposes two diametrically opposed rallies that took place simultaneously soon after the uncovering of this dark history: the Indigenous-led #CancelCanadaDay march and the far-right Dominion Day rally (including the People’s Party of Canada) to protest Canada Day cancellations and pandemic restrictions.

Featuring a range of emotions among protestors as well as moments of altercation, the documentary invites the audience to reflect on the contrasting visions of Canadianness in the 21st century, with opposing views of the country’s past and its future.

The new York initiative, dedicated to robust research on populism, will be launched shortly, and will be led by Glendon College Professor Emily Laxer (who is also the York Research Chair in Populism, Rights and Legality) in collaboration with Rémi Vivès (assistant professor of economics at Glendon) and Peker. The event will include an introduction to the initiative by Laxer and Vivès.

Registration for the event is free of charge and can be accessed here. Those interested can use the Glendon-Keele shuttle to travel between campuses.