The seventh Dr. Agnes Calliste African Heritage Lecture will take place Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m., in the St. F.X. Schwartz School of Business Auditorium.
“We are excited,” Patricia Cormack, one of the series organizers, told the Casket.
Robert S. Wright, a noted African Nova Scotian social worker and sociologist, will deliver ‘Race and Justice: R. v. X. and the Advent of Cultural Assessments.’
Cultural assessments, as a Calliste lecture series press released described, “involve a detailed clinical exploration of the impacts of racism, race, and culture on individuals and communities and how these forces affect an individual’s involvement in crime.”
Wright wrote the assessment in the case cited as: R. v. “X”, 2014 NSPC 95.
“It is possible that this was the first ‘cultural assessment’ of an African Canadian person presented and tested as evidence in a sentencing hearing in Canada,” the release continued.
“Though much had been written about the intersection of race and the criminal justice system, and the experience of North Americans of African descent, until then, there was no structured presentation of this knowledge for the court to consider.
“The ‘X’ assessment then can serve as a template and example for future cultural assessments,” it added.
Wright’s 28-year career has spanned the fields of education, child welfare, correctional mental health, trauma, sexual violence and cultural competence.
The annual public lecture, presented by the St. F.X. sociology department, honours Calliste, a retired professor “who was instrumental in organizing social and intellectual events around race at St. F.X., and who helped put race on the map in Canada, in Nova Scotia, and on campus.”
“She had been, as an academic, very well known for her study of race, in Canada especially, and racism, and the African-Canadian experience, including transient labour from the Caribbean and people who are not granted full citizenship. She also had a very big interest in the Nova Scotian history,” Cormack said.
While Calliste was in the sociology department, Cormack said she “organized many guest speakers and activities around these themes.”
Calliste started the Martin Luther King Jr. event and the African Heritage lecture series at St. F.X.
“When she retired, we wanted to make sure that this continued, so we thought the best thing to do would be to name the annual lecture series after Dr. Calliste, and then commit the department and the university to continuing to have an annual lecture series around themes of African-Canadian experience,” Cormack said.
She agreed that the series continues to appeal to not only the St. F.X., but also broader community.
“The local community is very, very supportive of this lecture series and we count on their support; they are always there, in big numbers. And, there is an interest outside the campus in these issues, clearly, and supporting – for some people – they remember Dr. Calliste,” Cormack said of her former colleague, who now resides at the R.K. MacDonald Nursing Home.
She noted Calliste, her health permitting, tries to attend the annual lecture named in her honour.
“It is still, partly, an opportunity to thank Dr. Calliste for all her work, as well, and to celebrate her legacy on campus and off campus,” Cormack said.