Within hours of the Prime Minister announcing border travel restrictions just two weeks ago, Fulbright researcher Jason Black’s long journey home was underway.
It was a heartbreaking turn of events for Black, who had spent close to three years planning and applying for the opportunity to research his next book at Brock. He was only two and a half months into his four month appointment as the Centre for Canadian Studies’ Fulbright Research Chair in Transnational Studies.
“I think the disruption to my project right now will only bring me closer to my newly-adoptive community,” says Black, who has already joined two academic associations in Canadian Studies with links to Brock, ensuring he will be back to visit often.
Black, who is researching the use of Indigenous mascots and social activism, will return to Brock in the fall to deliver his Fulbright lecture and plans to return for future conferences. He is also working with two graduate students as a member of their thesis committees.
“The pandemic hasn’t changed the ends or anticipated ‘products’ of my research plans, but it has certainly forced me to recalibrate the way I’m moving towards my research goals,” says Black.
While he will continue his research from home in North Carolina, Black emphasises the importance of sharing physical space and time with community to his research.
“A Fulbright is about immersive experiences,” he says. “Having conversations with Indigenous communities is enriched through direct conversations where truths can be shared and stories can be joined.”
Black is confident there are still positive things to come.
“I cannot forget that the past two and a half months at Brock have been life changing,” he says.
During his short stay at Brock, Black was interviewed on CBC radio, gave guest lectures at several different universities, participated in Brock’s Crossing Borders conference and connected with activists and Indigenous groups in Niagara, Ottawa, and Montréal.
Even though his Fulbright experience has come to an abrupt end, Black will be staying in touch with his new friends and colleagues at Brock.