Upcoming KPU Arts Speaker event will explore the 'islandness' of Canadian regional politics

The talk will dive into the political similarities and differences between island nations and provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan

Dr. Valérie Vézina, a political science instructor at KPU, holds a copy of her new book, Une île, une nation? Which translates to One island, one nation? (file photo)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University political science instructor Dr. Valérie Vézina has long been fascinated with how islands and the people living on them are different from their mainland counterparts.

In collaboration with her research assistants R. Georges Gardinetti, Deborah Hartendorp, and Joshua Green, the team is working to apply Vézina’s research on political “islandness” to the landlocked provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Vézina and her team will discuss their research and findings in their upcoming event as part of the KPU Arts Speaker Series.

She says her ideas originally stemmed from her experiences living all over Canada, and how each place felt distinctly different from each other in a way that was sometimes hard to pinpoint.

This curiosity led Vézina to publish her book in 2018, Une île, une nation? (One island, one nation?), which looked at people living on the islands of Newfoundland and Puerto Rico with a focus on their sense of identity, culture, and how their politics are influenced by their island environment.

“I was intrigued to … see if the metaphor still holds, if the same results happen, or the same underlying things happen,” says Vézina.

Their presentation will start with Hartendorp, a KPU psychology student, providing a working definition of the term “islandness”.

From there, Gardinetti, Green, and Vézina plan to explain the four dimensions of islandness, which include looking at the territory, politics, economy, and culture of these “islands” they have been examining.

“I think most people can relate to [Alberta] being slightly different from the rest of Canada in a lot of important ways, and I was responsible for finding out what underlies that difference and where does it come from,” says Gardinetti, a KPU political science grad and current master’s candidate in public policy at Simon Fraser University.

Alberta is Gardinetti’s province of focused research, while Green, a current KPU political science student, is focused on Saskatchewan.

The team hopes that their work will create space for these two provinces in Canadian literature and explain what Gardinetti describes as the “huge” regional divisions in Canada.

“The quality of details of their work has been astonishing, the three of them…. A lot of the success of this project is because they’ve done incredible work and very high-quality work,” says Vézina. “They’re fabulous research assistants, all of them.”

The whole project has been a collaborative effort involving a lot of trust in each other, trust in doing good research, and working together, says Vézina.

And while there is something special about presenting in person, the whole team says they are grateful to still be able to hold this event in an online space, where even more people are potentially able to attend.

The group will be presenting on Jan. 27, from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm through Microsoft Teams. To register, email artsevents@kpu.ca to get the link for the event.

To stay up to date on the upcoming KPU’s Arts Speaker Series and other happenings, check-in on the KPU Arts Facebook page.