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Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery welcomes first cohort of fellows

K’jipuktuk/Halifax (September 9, 2021) – NSCAD University’s Institute for the Study of Canadian Slavery (‘the Institute’) today announced its first cohort of artists-in-residence and graduate student fellows. The Institute supports and promotes traditional academic fellows and artists-in-residence working in its mandate areas through funding, office or studio space, and library access that allows for research and production time, peer-support, mentorship, and exhibition/collaboration opportunities.
“After joining NSCAD University and launching the Institute in 2020, I am thrilled to be able to welcome our first cohort of fellows so soon,” says the Institute’s founding director Dr. Charmaine A. Nelson, who joined NSCAD in 2020 as Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement awarded through the  tri-agency initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“Building a research hub from scratch is no easy feat,” says Dr. Nelson, “and the fact that we can already activate our one-of-a-kind research centre with the participation of such dedicated and accomplished scholars is a testament to the shared vision and hard work of our people.”

The Institute is the first research establishment in the nation and only one of a handful in the world that focus on Transatlantic Slavery. It was established at NSCAD University through funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. The Institute’s position within an art and design school allows the context of ‘research’ to encompass traditional academic outcomes, arts, culture, and media.

“Without fellows, the Institute is just a building,” says Dr. Nelson. “We are very grateful to those in the NSCAD community and beyond who generously donated funding for our three graduate student fellows, and to The Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs, Nova Scotia Communities, Culture, and Heritage for funding our two artists-in-residence.”

For the fall 2021 semester, the Institute welcomes:

Jason Cyrusgraduate student fellow, who analyzes fashion and textile history to explore questions of identity, cultural exchange, and agency. His project, Dressing for the Resistance: Style as Amour Among Black Canadians, will result in an exhibition proposal that will chronicle Black Canadian history from the perspective of dress, enslavement, and resistance.

Tonya “Sam’Gwan” Parisartist-in-residence fellow, is an established Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotia artist activist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has had several art exhibits and installations within the province. Her project, Freedom Is No Game, is her response to Canada’s legacy of Indigenous residential school systems and historic involvement with the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Bruno R. Véras, graduate student fellow, is a historian and cultural producer native of Recife, Brazil. His research interests include the African Diasporas, West African history, the transnational history of slavery, and the memory of slavery and reparations. His project, The Canadian press on “Quant à ce qui concerne Bahia”: White fear, Diplomacy, Abolitionism, and the News Coverage of the Muslim African slave rebellions, will use post-colonial strategies to read the transnational links between slave rebellions, anti-slavery debates, colonial policies, and ideologies through the Canadian and international press.

For the winter 2022 semester, the Institute will welcome:

Chris J. Gismondigraduate student fellow, is a PhD candidate at the University of New Brunswick who is completing his doctoral project under the guidance of Dr. Charmaine A. Nelson. Chris’ research project examines the unique and under studied site of Upper Canada, in particular how enslaved women and families navigated the gradual abolition of 1793 and if processes like flight were used to resist the reproductive violence of the slow emancipation process.

Tyshan Wrightartist-in-residence fellow, is a “Keeper Of The Heritage” (Jamaica Gleaner) and maker of Jamaican Maroon instruments and cultural objects whose work explores intersections between traditional and contemporary craft. His project, The Trelawny Town Maroons: Between Sovereignty and Slavery, examines the behaviours and cultural practices of Jamaican Maroons in colonial Nova Scotia, and the effects of colonialism and Transatlantic Slavery on the Maroons’ sovereignty.

More biography and project information on the Institute’s first cohort of fellows is available at