2nd General Meeting
Debrecen, 28 October 2006
The meeting was opened at 13:25 by the CEACS President, who welcomed the participants and presented the agenda. He also explained that, in accordance with the CEACS Constitution, he would act as the presiding officer at the meeting.
1. Report on activities
As required by the Constitution, the CEACS President, Don Sparling, presented a report on the activities of the association since the previous General Meeting in Krakow in May 2004. After pointing out that detailed reports on activities could be found in the minutes of the meetings of the CEACS Executive Committee as well as the regular country reports of Canadian Studies activities, all of which are available on the CEACS website, he went on to mention some of the main accomplishments over the past two and a half years.
1.1.1 The current 4th International Conference of Central European Canadianists was the major event organized by the CEACS in the past few years. In this connection, the President thanked the organizers of the Debrecen conference - Peter Szaffko, Judit Molnar, Szabolcs Szigalyi and Maria Marosvári - for their excellent work and wonderful hospitality.
1.1.2 In the period since the previous General Meeting, a number of important conferences with international participation had been held in various places in the region - in particular Debrecen (2004), Opatija (Croatia, 2004), Nis (2005) and Brno (2006) - as well as many other smaller events, among them seminars, workshops, "Canada Days" and the 2nd Unconventional Meeting of Young Canadianists in Baia Mare (2006). Though these were initiatives of national chapters or individual centres rather than of the CEACS, the CEACS offered full support and publicity for these activities, urged members to attend, and encouraged other centres and national chapters to undertake similar activities in future.
A whole series of grants and awards are either offered by the CEACS or administered by it.
1.2.1 CEACS conference grants
These grants of 300 CAD are offered to CEACS members to help defray costs incurred by their participation in conferences outside their home country where they deliver a paper. The number is flexible, but usually around fifteen; in 2005/2006 a favourable financial situation allowed the Executive Committee to raise this to twenty grants. This type of grant also includes the placements of CE Canadianists at the annual GKS conference in Grainau (where the recipients are not expected to deliver a paper); the number of places available for CEACS members is now stabilized at five.
1.2.2 CEACS research stays in Brno
This programme allows students (and more recently teachers) to come to Brno, where there is a large Canadian Studies library (around 4,000 volumes, in a wide range of disciplines, with a good selection of scholarly journals), in order to do research for MA and doctoral theses as well as for other purposes. The CEACS arranges and pays for accommodation, and covers some photocopying costs. Around 12-15 people a year benefit from this programme. In this connection, the President reminded those present that, thanks to the generosity of the Northrop Frye Centre in Toronto, the library was acquiring Frye's complete Collected Works. Currently it has all seventeen volumes published so far; it will acquire the remaining fifteen or so as they appear.
1.2.3 FRP and FEP awards
In the fall of 2004 the CEACS took over responsibility from the European Network for Canadian Studies for the pre-selection of award winners (the final selection is made at the ICCS in Ottawa). Interest has grown; for 2005 there were 23 applications and 13 winners; in 2006 32 applications and 14 winners. Each year, the Executive Committee sets up a special pre-selection committee to evaluate that year's candidates; after reading through all the applications they meet at some convenient place and after lengthy discussions make the final recommendations to the ICCS, which is responsible for the final selection. The pre-selection committees in both 2005 and 2006 were praised for the quality of their evaluations.
1.2.4 ICCS graduate research grants
Each year the CEACS can make a maximum of three nominations for grants from the ICCS that enable students in advanced stages of Master's and doctoral degrees to carry out research in Canada. These students must be members of the CEACS. The three candidates' dossiers are then sent to the ICCS, which makes the final selection. In both 2005 and 2006 a student member of the CEACS was a recipient of this grant, a very good record and one that reflects the high standards in the region.
1.2.5 ICCS best doctoral thesis award
Each year the ICCS presents an award for the best doctoral thesis relating to Canadian Studies that has been successfully defended within the previous two years. This year, for the first time, the CEACS will be submitting a candidate for this award.
1.2.6 Class-set grants
The introduction of class-set grants for CE Canadianists was a major accomplishment of the Central European Steering Committee for Canadian Studies. After a three-year trial period the programme was suspended pending results of a survey on its effectiveness carried out by the CEACS Executive Committee at the request of Foreign Affairs Canada. This revealed strong support for the programme; after discussions in Ottawa in May of this year, it was agreed to reintroduce the programme, beginning immediately in the 2006/2007 fiscal year.
The President pointed out that adjudicating these grant programmes has involved large numbers of members of the CEACS, who have put in long hours in their effort to do the work as conscientiously as possible. The Executive Committee has tried to make this process as transparent as possible: selection committees change regularly, and their names are known; the selection criteria are expressed clearly in the announcements for the various grants, or posted on the CEACS webpage; in most cases points systems have been devised for the use of the adjudicators; in some cases feedback is supplied for those who are not successful in their applications.
Much work is put in by the CEACS Secretariat and a number of CEACS members in preparing the various publications published by the association or prepared by it for the European Network for Canadian Studies.
1.3.1 Proceedings of the Krakow conference
These were received from the organizers of the conference early in 2006, and have since been distributed (see below, 1.3.4) The President congratulated Anna Reczynska and her team in Krakow for the wonderful job they did: this is indeed an impressive volume, all 593 pages.
1.3.2 Central European Journal of Canadian Studies
Since the last General Meeting, two more issues of the association's official journal have appeared, Volumes 4 and 5. Much work was put in by the editorial teams, with criteria for inclusion becoming stiffer and the quality of the publication improving. Congratulations were expressed to Katalin Kurtosi, Editor-in-Chief of the journal.
1.3.3 Canadian Studies in Europe
Though not a CEACS publication, Canadian Studies in Europe is produced by the CEACS Secretariat for the European Network for Canadian Studies. It is in fact the proceedings of the European Student Seminar for Graduate Work in Canadian Studies. Two more issues have appeared in the last two-and-a-half years, Volume 4 (the proceedings of the student seminar in Barcelona in 2003) and Volume 5 (Szeged in 2004). The President announced that Volume 5 (York, 2005) is about to go to press, and the call for papers has gone our for Volume 6 (Graz, which took place a month earlier).
In earlier years, there had been problems with distribution of the above publications. Now a system has been devised which should ensure that the right people get the right publications. Every CEACS member is entitled to a copy of the association's journal as well as to a copy of the proceedings of its triennial conferences. In addition, every centre receives an additional copy of each of these publications for its library, as well as a copy of Central European Studies, for the same purpose. These journals are distributed to members personally at major events; otherwise, copies are sent to Canadian embassies for distribution, with lists of who is to receive what. In future this should ensure proper distribution of the publications, and maximum public access to them.
1.4. The CEACS Secretariat at Brno
The President pointed out that the Secretariat carried out and/or coordinated all the activities just mentioned. In addition, it was responsible for the website - which was completely redesigned a year ago, and is now much more attractive and much more user- friendly - and for providing regular information through its listserve. Special thanks went to Petr Vurm, familiar to all CEACS members as their e-mail contact at the Secretariat, for the immense amount of work he has done for the association.
Not everything was accomplished that the Executive Committee had wished to do. In particular, two projects were never implemented. The first called for an annual summer school, each year in a different place and devoted to a different topic, dependent on the particular strengths of the university where it was being held. The second was a Migration Project, using an oral history approach to look at Central Europeans migrants to Canada, either permanent or temporary. However, neither of these projects was dead: it was up to the new Executive Committee to see whether it could breathe life into them.
The President summed up his report by saying that accomplishments of the previous three years had been remarkable, and would serve as a challenge to the new Executive Committee about to be elected.
To run the elections for the Executive Committee and Executive Council, an election committee was established, headed by Petr Vurm and including Eszter Szabo-Gilinger and Iwona Wronska. The President turned over the meeting to Petr Vurm. He announced that the groundwork for the elections had been laid by meetings of the national chapters earlier in the year that had nominated and elected members for the official bodies of the association. The situation was as follows.
- one candidate for President, Janos Kenyeres of ELTE, Budapest
- five candidates for three positions: Jason Blake (University of Ljubljana), Daniela Frumusani (University of Bucharest), Vesna Lopicic (University of Nis), Don Sparling (Masaryk University, Brno), Diana Yankova (New Bulgarian University, Sofia)
At this point Vesna Lopicic announced that for personal reasons she was withdrawing her nomination.
Each candidate in turn made a brief presentation. Madeleine Danova spoke for Diana Yankova, who was not present, having been forced to remain in Sofia for family reasons.
Voting for all positions was by secret ballot. Petr Vurm said that in the case of the President, the ballot gave the choice yes or no. In the case of the Executive Council, people could select a maximum of three names. The results were as follows:
Janos Kenyeres - 49 in favour, 2 against
Executive Committee (3 positions)
Jason Blake - 40
Daniela Frumusani - 9
Don Sparling - 44
Diana Yankova - 43
After announcing the results, Petr Vurm turned the meeting back over to the President.
One final vote was needed, in accordance with the Constitution, for two Auditors. The President explained that the association paid a lawyer/accountant to keep its books. Therefore the task of the auditors was not to check whether the books were accurate, but rather to check whether the expenditures were legitimate. To be able to understand the financial records, a knowledge of Czech was necessary; for this reason he nominated Karel Foustka (AMU Prague) and Maria Huttova (Comenius University, Bratislava). These names were accepted on a show of hands.
Unfortunately there was virtually no time for discussion, as the afternoon session of the conference began at this point (14:30). A few points were raised. Among them was a request for clarification of the different roles of the Executive Committee and the Executive Council; this the President responded to A suggestion was made that the name of the second body might be changed in order to avoid confusion with the Executive Committee and to make its function clearer. It was also asked why only some countries had nominated candidates for the Executive Committee. The President explained that this was not compulsory; national chapters are entitled to nominate candidates, but need not do so. In response to the President's comment that the association would have to start thinking about where the 5th triennial conference would be held in 2009, Stefana Russenova announced that, in the name of the Bulgarian Canadianists, she was proposing Sofia. The President accepted the proposal, and promised that this offer would be discussed at the next meeting of the Executive Committee.
In ending the meeting, the President announced that this was also the moment when he was stepping down as head of the association. He thanked all those who had helped him over the years, in particular the members of the current Executive Committee and earlier Steering Committee, and expressed the wish that his successor, Janos Kenyeres, would lead the association to even greater accomplishments in future.
The meeting ended at 14:35