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about me

[This Magazine: The People Do Good Stuff Issue, 2016: Evelyn Encalada]
[About me in Rural Women Making Change's website: Change Maker Profile- Evelyn Encalada Grez]
[In York University's YFile: Alumna speaks to UN about the plight of migrant workers in Ontario]
[Encalada Grez E., "Home in the Distance", Diagolos, "CHILEAN JOURNEYS", Issue #5: Winter 2008]

Short BIO: UPDATED October 29, 2016.

Evelyn Encalada Grez is an adjunct university professor, transnational community organizer and labour researcher. For over 17 years she has been working with migrant farmworkers, from Mexico and Guatemala in rural Canada and with their families in their home communities. She co-founded the award winning collective called Justicia/Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) that is at the forefront of the migrant rights movement in Canada. Evelyn has shared of her work and knowledge in various venues, such as the United Nations in New York, the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Parliament Hill in Ottawa. She has published with the late Dr. Kerry Preibisch in “Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society” and “Citizenship Studies.” She has also collaborated closely with Min Sook Lee on film projects that have given space to migrant farmworkers’ voices and experiences in Canada such as “El Contrato” and “Migrant Dreams.” She brings her personal life experiences of displacement, forced migration from Chile and refugee/working class struggles in Canada into all of her political and academic work.

Longer BIO:

velyn Encalada Grez is an adjunct university professor, community organiser and researcher. She is completing a doctoral degree at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Department of Social Justice Education (formerly known as Sociology and Equity Studies) at the University of Toronto. Her dissertation is titled "Mexican Women Organising Life, Love and Work Across Rural Ontario and Rural Mexico: A Practice of Transnational Storytelling and a Proposed Translation for Change." [A listing of her publications can be found here.]

Evelyn was born in Chile and raised in Canada. Her academic and political work have been largely informed by her childhood experiences of displacement and migration. These experience have inspired several queries, such as, why do certain people have the privilege to live and thrive where they were born while others have to painfully leave? How do we affirm ourselves and our "belonging" after being uprooted by imperialism and a veracious global capitalism? What has led to Latin America's uneven development and skewed income inequality? How can we effect tangible global change?

Evelyn holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Political Science from York University. There she specialized in the Political Economy of Latin America, principally Chile and Colombia. Her undergraduate training is also from York University where she extensively studied the politics, economy and culture of Latin America. Her undergraduate training also included an intensive summer school program in the Universidad de Oriente in Santiago de Cuba.

Evelyn has worked and lived in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras with the Central American Network in Solidarity with Women Maquila Workers. She also lived extensively in Puebla, Mexico where she worked with and was hosted by El Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador (Workers Support Centre).

Evelyn is a founding member of Justice for Migrant Workers, an award winning political collective that has promoted the rights of migrant farm workers in Canada since 2001. She worked with filmmaker Min Sook Lee on the production of the critically acclaimed El Contrato behind and in front of the cameras as an interpreter and was key in creating a safe space for migrant farm workers to tell their stories. In the summer of 2012, she continued her work with Min Sook on the TVO production, "Teo in Toronto", as a follow up El Contrato's decade anniversary. Evelyn's praxis with migrant farm workers is premised on creating spaces for workers to articulate their own voices, tell their own stories and lead their own transnational human rights movement. She also closely collaborated with Min Sook Lee on the powerful documentary "Migrant Dreams" that was released in 2016.

**[Justice for Migrant Workers awards: The Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario Community Champion Award (2011) and the JS Woodworth Award, March 21, 2011: "For Justicia for Migrant Workers' outstanding commitment to advancing the rights of visible minorities and immigrants, and eliminating racial discrimination."]***

As a result of her affiliation with Rural Women Making Change, a CURA-SSHRC project based at the University of Guelph, she was invited to the United Nations to talk about her community work with Mexican migrant women to observe the first International Day of Rural Women.

Evelyn is the creator of an innovative multimedia online course called Migration and Displacement geared toward action and critical reflection for the International Development Certificate Program at the University of British Columbia. In the Fall of 2010 she offered an undergraduate level version of this course in the Department of Human Rights and Equity Studies at York University and since then she has been teaching at the university level as an adjunct professor. In 2012 she was nominated for a Teaching Excellence award at York University by her students and has been teaching there as an adjunct since. Evelyn's teaching is based on embodying and mobilizing knowledge for action and change. It is not enough to know but to feel and to act and to be transformed in the process.

Aside from her passion for transformative learning and politics, Evelyn integrates spirituality into her work and life as a practice of "transformation from the spirit within & the world throughout." In displacement and migration, Evelyn has found her place of belonging within the transnational, within hybridity, a particular third space of possibilities and expressions...

There is much more work to do, much more life to live...!

[At my house in Valparaiso, Chile, on the way to the Escuela 3, circa 1980]

~Mi vida~

Cuando era niña soñaba ser cantante. Cuando teníamos visitas, le susurraba a mi mama, "dígale que yo canto." Le cantaba a mi familia y también hacia “shows” para la comunidad Chileno-canadiense cuando recién llegamos al país. En Chile desde los tres años de edad recitaba poesías a mis vecinos a cambio de dulces. Fui muy extrovertida que me pusieron la “vieja chica” por lo tanto que hablaba, opinaba  y hacía de tan chiquita.  

Siempre he sido luchadora y me he ido contra la corriente cuando me han dicho/enseñado que como niña/mujer/latina no puedo hacer ciertas cosas y debo actuar en ciertas maneras. Por eso en un tiempo en mi vida quería manejar camiones y dedicarme a la construcción.

Nunca imagine ir a la universidad, menos ser profesora universitaria.
Nunca pensé que llegaría a las Naciones Unidas.
Nunca pensé ser activista comunitaria entre la comunidad agrícola migrante en Canadá rural.

Pero atreves del tiempo todo lo que he vivido y visto me ha inyectado un gran sentido de lucha en mi sangre que me ha guidado a estos caminos...

[At a convent in Oaxaca, Mexico, May 2007]

Ahora en mi vida lo que más me gusta en la vida es viajar. Me encanta aprender de otros pueblos y costumbres. Regularmente viajo sola. Pero he podido contar en hermosas personas, que me han brindado apoyo en mis diversos viajes. Me falta recorrer mucho más.

Lo ideal para mi es:
ir a un lugar sagrado donde me pueda conectar con mi espíritu,
ceremonias tradicionales,
escribir mis sentimientos y evoluciones,
leer libros que me inspiran,
caminar por las calles multiculturales de Toronto,
el mar y los paisajes de las Américas,
me gusta ir a bailar de vez en cuando, cantar desde mi alma,
convivir con gente linda empezando con los/las migrantes y sus familias...
compartir momentos intimos y mágicos...

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+ Nunca dejes de soñar! Siempre hay una manera, búscala con tu alma y corazón. +

+ Write and live your own script in life! Defy constructed norms that paralyze the soul.+