Robin Burns Lecture Series
Every fall the ETRC presents the Robin Burns Lecture in honour of Robin Burns (1944-1998), one of the founders of the ETRC and professor of Canadian History at Bishop's University. These lectures are an opportunity for scholars to present their research findings on the Eastern Townships to the Bishop’s and regional community. Our public lectures and conferences draw specialists and generalists alike from both the local area and far afield.
The 14th Annual Robin Burns Lecture
Eastern Townships in Quebec and Belgium, not only namesakes! How do migrants integrate local communities?
On Thursday, November 15, the ETRC invited public to attend the 14th annual Robin Burns Lecture at the Foreman Art Gallery on Bishop’s University campus.
Dr. Altay Manço, Scientific Director of the Institut de Recherche, Formation et Action sur les Migrations (IRFAM) and “our own” Claude Belleau, expert on refugees and immigration issues, experienced community worker, and ETRC board member made stimulating presentations on immigration and integration in the Eastern Townships of Belgium and on the life of newcomers in the Quebec’s Townships.
For both Eastern Townships (Québec and Belgium), immigration represents tremendous opportunities. Both face similar challenges in their efforts to build a cohesive and inclusive society and in bridging the great disconnect between the settlement of immigrants at the local level and their selection at the national level. The lectures highlighted the similarities and differences between the two, and provided ideas and approaches that can be useful to both regions.
“It is a little disputed fact that Canada is a nation of immigrants,” reminds Claude Belleau before adding: “From the first explorers and settlers of the XVI and XVII centuries to the arrival of the Loyalists fleeing the US and over the successive waves from southern Europe after the second World War, immigrants have crossed our borders and sought to make Canada their new homes.” For his part, Dr. Manço shared with us how in 2007 a group of local associations launched a collective reflection on the potential conflict between older and newer immigration “without waiting for these feelings to turn into violence” and took first steps at building social cohesion across the local communities.
The ETRC is very grateful to have had Altay Manço and Claude Belleau come together to share their knowledge on such a crucial topic.
In the past years, the Robin Burns lecture series has welcomed prominent speakers such as the Honourable Laurier L. LaPierre, Senator; Dr. Margaret Bennett of Edinburgh, Scotland, a specialist in Scottish folklore; Dr. Desmond Morton, renowned McGill history professor and founder of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada; and Michael Ignatieff, Canadian author, journalist, academic, and politician; Jack Little, historian.