Congratulations to James W. St. G. Walker on his appointment to the Order of Canada.
As one of Canada’s leading voices on the history of racial justice, James Walker, 75, has spent much of his career studying the profound impact of black Canadians on the country’s foundation. A professor of history at the University of Waterloo, he has published numerous articles and book chapters on the subject, notably “Race,” Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada.
Inspired by the 1965 marches in Selma, Ala., Prof. Walker was one of the co-founders of Dalhousie University’s Transition Year Program, meant to confront Canada’s own inequalities.
“Some of our kids hadn’t even finished public school.… We thought that a year of education would enable young black kids to go back into their own community and become leaders,” he said. Almost 40 years later, the program has led to greater enrolment for black and aboriginal students at the university.
But he feels there is still more work to be done. In particular, his book A History of Blacks in Canada: A Study Guide for Teachers and Students has yet to stir up the interest he hoped.
For Prof. Walker, reading isn’t enough. “There’s a political awareness that has to be injected somewhere. If people read it and it’s just a nice story, they move on.”
The Order of Canada is one of the country’s highest civilian honours issued twice yearly. It recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
James is also a collaborator on Landscapes of Injustice.