The Caribbean Studies Program would like to keep us all connected with updates from the program, and by exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Caribbean communities around the world. 

New Director of the Caribbean Studies Program

We would like to welcome Dr. Néstor E. Rodríguez as the new Director of the Caribbean Studies Program. Dr. Rodríguez accepted a five-year term as Director of Caribbean Studies, from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2025. Dr. Rodriguez is an Associate Professor of Spanish, specializing in Caribbean and Latin American intellectual history and cultural production. He received his B.A. in Comparative Literature from the Universidad de Puerto Rico and his Ph.D. in Latin American Literature from Emory University in 2003. Read more about Dr. Rodriguez here.

Professor Rodriguez invites you to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Casa Pueblo in Puerto Rico. A non-profit, community and cultural centre based in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, Casa Pueblo is at the forefront of sustainable development in the island with successful initiatives on environmental justice and energy independence.

Photo of Casa Pueblo

Caribbean Studies Faculty and Community Investigate Key Issues

Caribbean Studies faculty, instructors, students and alumni are leaders in shaping the conversation on the current impact of COVID-19 in Caribbean communities in Canada and around the world. While key issues such as access to medical equipment, healthcare resources, food and shelter, and the impact of physical distancing are portrayed in the media, the impact of the virus in many other aspects of social, economic and cultural life can be examined.

Professor Alissa Trotz’s weekly newspaper column in a Guyanese daily The Stabroek News, has turned its attention to several dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis in the region. Caribbean Studies Instructors Chris Ramsaroop and Assistant Professor Kevin Edmonds explore the experiences of Caribbean migrant workers in Canada, especially those employed in agriculture. They uncover the conditions facing migrant workers, highlight existing issues that are exasperated through current pandemic measures, and discuss how the global pandemic can lead to longer-term reforms.

Violence against women is also coming to light as a serious threat during the pandemic. During stay at home measures, women are forced to stay at home in abusive situations and we are seeing this happen at home in Canada and in the Caribbean. Former Caribbean Studies student Ruth Rodney and current student Sireesha Bobbili examine the current situation for women in Guyana and how we can help.

As we have seen in Canada and across the world, governments are creating measures and enacting policies to tackle the crisis while communities are also rising up to provide supports. The experiences of countries in the Caribbean show the complexities of the virus, how governments have responded and also how communities are coming together to provide support and care. Dr. Trotz examines the responses to this global pandemic in Guyana.

Caribbean Medical Professionals in the Fight Against COVID-19

While news stories often focus on the support of health care providers in our cities and across Canada, we can also look at the role of Caribbean health care professionals, their work in the Caribbean and abroad. Professor Melanie Newton encourages us to explore how support from Cuban doctors is being requested in Canada, especially in Indigenous communities to respond to COVID-19, and around the world.

In Canada, we have seen retired health care professionals being asked to go back to work. In the United Kingdom, a group of retired nurses known as Windrush nurses, are going back to work to support COVID-19 efforts. These nurses went to the UK from British Caribbean colonies during the post-war recovery in the 1950’s and their support to the UK healthcare system has often been overlooked. Currently, they are coming back to provide support.

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