Dr. Kalenda Eaton, associate professor of English, gave the keynote address at the 13th annual Ottawa DreamKEEPERS Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations in Ottawa, Canada on Jan. 16. She discussed how Canada has been a beacon since the 19th century in the fight for equality and freedom, from helping escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad to the progressive stances the country has held in the 21st century.
Dr. Eaton remarked that throughout history, Canada can be seen as a leader in equality, referred to as the “North Star Nation”– a common phrase escaped slaves used when referring to Canada since it provided them hope that freedom was attainable.
As a Fulbright scholar, Dr. Eaton was invited to participate in this event by the U.S. Embassy in Canada and the Ottawa DreamKEEPERs for her expertise in African American Studies. In 2016, Dr. Eaton was awarded a J. William Fulbright Research Chair in Society and Culture at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. From August to December 2016, she explored the relationship between the African/Black Canadian subject, citizenship, and “the politics of belonging” in the Canadian space for a chapter in her forthcoming book on the connection between Black North American identity formation and the quest for citizenship as represented in historical fiction.