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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.
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 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.
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.
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...
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: