City Builders received Lieutenant Governor of Ontario’s Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation

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The City Builders project was one of this year’s recipients of the Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation. The awards ceremony was held at the Provincial Legislative Building, Queen’s Park, on Friday, February 22, presided by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Thank you Ontario Heritage Trust for this wonderful distinction. It is a honour to share this with all the other great projects and individuals awarded that day.

Receiving the award plaque from Her Honour Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and the Ontario Heritage Trust Chair of the Board of Directors, Harvey McCue.
With Dr. Carolyn Podruchny (The Manitoulin Island Summer Historical Institute and York University) and Dr. Thabit Abdullah (Chair, Department of History, York University)

Canadian Immigration History Syllabus – ActiveHistory.ca

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Thanks to Daniel Ross and Laura Madokoro for taking the initiative, and for inviting me to co-author a Canadian Immigration syllabus with some of the leading migration historians in Canada. The purpose of this open syllabus is to assist educators and students interested in disseminating information and knowledge “that can shed light on lies, falsehoods and mythologies” that animate many contemporary discussions and public policy debates on refugees and immigration.

See the open syllabus here.

City Builders now live

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On September 28, 2018, at York University, I launched the various outputs of my City Builders’ project, including a travelling multimedia exhibition with 80 QR code-activated digital labels; a website packed with digital content, including interactive maps, timelines, videos, audio recordings, photos, and biographies; an oral history series with 19 short videos about retired construction workers and labour organizers; and a two-part documentary totalling nearly 2 hours. All digital contents are freely available on the City Builders’ website: http://toronto-city-builders.org

Roundtable at the Workers Arts & Heritage Centre, July 21

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On July 21, starting at 2 p.m., at the Workers Arts & Heritage Centre, I will be participating in a roundtable discussion about the history and contemporary lives of Portuguese working people in Canada, and how they intersect with contemporary art practices. Our conversation will be prompted by Teresa Ascenção‘s exhibition “Daily Bread,” currently on display at the WAHC. This event is free and open to all.

See here for more information.

My new research/ public history project: City Builders: An Oral History of Immigrant Construction Workers in Postwar Toronto

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Website photos 1Last September, I started a new research and public history project called City Builders: An Oral History of Immigrant Construction Workers in Postwar Toronto, associated with York University’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies and the Laborers International Union of North America Local 183. This project will record, examine, and divulge the history of Toronto’s immigrant construction workers after the Second World War. It will do so by gathering extensive qualitative information through filmed oral history interviews, by photographing the participants’ personal records and artifacts, and by conducting extensive research in Toronto’s archives. I will be leading a team of researchers (including York students) and filmmakers, who will interview forty retired members of Local 183, focusing on their goals, struggles, achievements, and thoughts on immigration, construction work, labour organization, Toronto, and other topics of significance. With these materials, we will produce forty short videos and one 15-minute documentary that will be featured in a multimedia exhibition. The exhibit’s launch and the screening of the documentary will coincide with the 2018 Avie Bennett Conference at York University, taking place on September 2018. All of the materials gathered and produced by this project will be donated to the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University Libraries, once the project is completed.

You can read the article that York University’s YFile newsletter published about it here. And find more information about the project in the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies website here.

Toronto the Bad: A Riots Map and Timeline

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There has been over eighty riots throughout the history of Toronto, some of them quite large. This seemingly high number contradicts the idea of a peaceful and even dull “Toronto the Good,” and of Canada as a land of peace, order, and good governance, where differences have been negotiated through compromise, unlike our southern neighbours. Race, religion, political views, labour relations, social inequality, youth rebelliousness, have been the most common factors triggering these relatively short outburst of violence. In all of them, Toronto’s police forces have played a central role, as law and order enforcers, as violence instigators, or as passive bystanders. Toronto’s riot history is an important thread for weaving the story of its police forces, political rulers, inter-ethnic/racial relations, religious communities, and other significant historical agents.

In 2016-17, HIST4530 students wrote about various riots in Toronto’s past, drawing from primary (i.e. newspapers and maps) and secondary source materials. The assignment asked for them to write for a public history audience, which required them to write clearly and succinctly, and summarize complex ideas into simplified yet nuanced short texts. I have since edited and built on the students’ work, and created a digital map and timeline using Omeka/ Neatline, called Toronto the Bad: A Riots Map and Timeline.

Map screenshot

This assignment will be repeated in 2017-18. The incoming HIST4530 students’ work will feed into this digital resource, which remains a work in progress. This work is also featured in Myseum of Toronto‘s mobile application.

I am also currently working on an article about Toronto’s riot history.