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Trent Ph.D. Grad Recognized for Telling the Stories of Working Canadians

Two research projects conducted by Dr. Julia Smith receive prestigious awards from the Canadian Historical Association and Wilson Institute of Canadian History


Dr. Julia Smith, a recent doctoral graduate of the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University, is being recognized for her research into and study of the often untold history of working Canadians.

Her article, Beards and Bloomers: Flight Attendants, Grievances and Embodied Labour in the Canadian Airline Industry, 1960s-1980s, has been awarded the 2016 prize for best article in labour history from the Canadian Historical Association (CHA). The article, which was co-authored by the director of the Frost Centre Dr. Joan Sangster, explored the legal and social history of the grievances and arbitrations filed by the flight attendants’ union.

“It is an honour to have my research recognized by the CHA,” says Dr. Smith about her research that she believes is still relevant today. Adding that she hopes this award will shed light on the struggle she says attendants continue to battle to this day. “I hope that it will bring more attention to flight attendants’ struggles for decent pay and dignity in the workplace.”

Dr. Smith’s passion for telling the untold stories of working Canadians is what drew her to working on another award-winning project. With other academics, activists, artists, and writers from across Canada, Dr. Smith joined American historian Paul Buhle and other members of the Graphic History Collective to create Drawn to Change: Graphic Histories of Working Class Struggle. The unique collection of short comics that highlight moments in labour and working-class history in Canada has recently won the Public History Prize from the CHA along with being awarded the prestigious Wilson Book Prize from the Wilson Institute of Canadian History.

“Most people in Canada have to work, yet the history of working people is often left out of dominant narratives of Canadian history,” explains Dr. Smith about this unique project. “Drawn to Change highlights the struggles and contributions of working people and presents them in an accessible format.”

Dr. Smith says that her academic success is a result of the education and support that she received during her time as a Ph.D. student at Trent University. She says that she is grateful for to her supervisor, Dr. Sangster, and the group of faculty members that supported her during her time at Trent. From the monetary support of the School of Graduate Studies and the Symons Trust Fund for Canadian Studies to the resources and support staff at the Bata Library, Dr. Smith is thankful for all the ways Trent supported her and her research.

“The Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies provided me with excellent interdisciplinary training, access to faculty who are experts in their fields, and crucial financial support,” says Dr. Smith.  

Posted on Thursday, August 3, 2017.

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