Introduction: Canada in the North Pacific

Article excerpt

This issue of The American Review of Canadian Studies contains a selection of papers presented at ACSUS's 35th anniversary colloquium, held September 28-30, 2006. The ACSUS colloquium series--organized in even-numbered years provides a forum for in-depth inter- and cross-disciplinary examination of issues that emerge at ACSUS biennials as being of increasing interest to Canadianists.

ACSUS's fifth colloquium, the theme of which was Canada in the North Pacific--examining Canada's role and relationships in the North Pacific region, an area of the world with increasingly vital significance in the 21st century to Canada and Canada-U.S. relations--was held, appropriately, in Anchorage, Alaska, which geographically sits at the very center of the North Pacific Rim.

Canada's relationship with the United States in the Pacific Northwest region embraces not only all the crucial and familiar NAFTA-related dimensions associated with the 49th parallel border, but a host of very different aspects associated with the border that divides British Columbia and the Yukon from Alaska, stretching right up to the Arctic Ocean. In the Pacific Northwest, both the United States and Canada deal with issues that range from northern security, the Northwest Passage, global warming, sustainable development in the fragile Arctic environment, indigenous self-government, and co-management of cross-border biological species, to trade, competitiveness, border security and immigration, and transportation issues in the crowded Cascadia corridor.

Widening the focus to the North Pacific region introduces a realm of relationships and issues--cultural, social, economic, political, and diplomatic--with which both Canada and the U.S. are struggling as they seek to find appropriate responses in the framework of post-9/11, 21st-century realities. In dealing with Russia, Japan, the Koreas, and China, Canada builds on a foundation of relationships that are in marked contrast to those of the U.S. with that part of the world.

The timing for ACSUS to offer ACSUS in Alaska: Canada in the North Pacific was fortuitous: not long beforehand, the government of Canada decided that the relationship with Alaska was important enough to warrant the opening of a Canadian Consulate in Anchorage, and identified the Asia-Pacific area as a priority. Meanwhile, serious attention to the possibility of opening the Northwest Passage to commercial shipping as a result of global warming, and discussion of all the surrounding security and trade issues, as well as the social and environmental aspects, gained profile throughout 2006.

The Call for Papers for the ACSUS in Alaska colloquium garnered a strong response that tapped a range and diversity of issues, demonstrating the vitality of the topic for the Canadianist academic community. The program planners had a wealth of excellent submissions from many disciplines that permitted continuation of the intended spirit of the colloquium as a dialogue across disciplines.

Whereas previous ACSUS in Canada colloquiums had served to bring ACSUS members to Canada, holding the Canada in the North Pacific colloquium in Alaska afforded the opportunity for Canadianists from both the U.S. and Canada, as well as from elsewhere around the world, to meet in a novel location which few had visited before--an area that is of great interest for its Canada connections and that showcases many of the most vital and dynamic issues of the North Pacific region. Alaska, being part of the United States, is a part of Canada's most significant international relationship; but at the same time, the U.S. and Canada are competitors for markets on the Pacific Rim for many of their Northwest resources, such as fish, lumber, minerals, oil, and gas.

From these proposals, a program was constructed with 14 panel sessions serving as the core of the coverage of Canada's relationship with the North Pacific region. …