61 Pleasant St | Antigonish, NS B2G 1W6
Obituary of Agnes Calliste
The death of Dr. Agnes Miranda Calliste, 74, of Antigonish, occurred Friday, August 31, 2018 at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, Antigonish. Born in Grenada, West Indies, she was a daughter of the late James Augustine and Clarice (Francis) Calliste.
Dr. Calliste was a nationally and internationally celebrated academic who joined the Sociology faculty at St Francis Xavier University in 1984, where she remained until her retirement in 2010.
Her scholarship focused on the complex interrelation of work, race, ethnicity and gender in Canada. Her ground-breaking research with African-Canadian railway porters and Caribbean-Canadian nurses explored previously unexamined dimensions of our social history. Dr. Calliste studied not only the institutionalized oppression of such communities, but also their organized resistance. This research is now widely cited by academics as essential reading in this field. She also edited critically acclaimed collections (with Dr. George Dei) entitled Power, Knowledge and Anti-Racism Education and Anti-Racist Feminism. Dr. Calliste worked collaboratively with others on campus, winning prestigious national funding competitions to study inequalities surrounding determinants of health. Dr. Calliste has received innumerable awards for her contributions to research, education and social activism. Dr. Calliste is listed in Who’s Who of Canadian Women, and Who’s Who in Black Canada.
In addition to her intellectual accomplishments, Dr. Calliste tirelessly served the Xaverian and Nova Scotian communities. As St. F.X.’s Black Student Advisor, Dr. Calliste provided academic support to individual students and advised the Brothers and Sisters of the African Diaspora student society. Dr. Calliste also initiated and organized annual events like the Kwanzaa celebrations, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the many activities that celebrate African Heritage Month each February. In addition to these events, Dr. Calliste supported and organized many other activities that sought to counter racism and recognize the achievements of African-Canadians.
On an individual level, students speak about the time and effort Dr. Calliste put into helping them, cajoling and willing them to excellence. Dr. Calliste was a long-time supporter of the student athletes, cheering them on academically and from the bleachers. Dr. Calliste has made a deep and lasting contribution to the culture of social activism at St. F. X., expanding upon and enriching the tradition that comes from the Antigonish Movement. Affectionately known as “Princess” at home, Agnes was a devout Christian. In mind, heart and spirit, Dr. Agnes Calliste exemplified the best of the Xaverian ideal to strive for “whatsoever things are true”.
Surviving are sisters Carmen, Tessa, Christine, Diane, Gemma, Kimlin, Judy, Rossy; brothers Gregory and Edward; aunts Joan Britton, Yoland DeGale.
A Memorial service will be held at 11:00am Saturday, September 8th in the St. Francis Xavier University Chapel.
My dear sister,
It is with a wounded and broken heart that I pen these words to your departed soul. An intellectual giant has fallen and all through the deep forest the unmistaken sound of the fall can be heard. Death has robbed us of someone so loving, caring, giving and respectful. Words alone cannot truly describe the pain I feel as I write these words to you from far away Ghana.
Like all gathered here today to mourn your passing and celebrate your life we are hurting very bad. For me, I can only reflect on our intellectual journey together. I am blessed and richer to have had the privilege of your companionship. How can I forget you, Agnes? You were a senior scholar who took me along with you on a wild journey. It was a journey with fond and loving memories - joy, pain, and hard struggle. Yet, I look back on those days with smile and affection. You fought a good and worthy cause and succeeded in making us better than we are.
I can never repay the debt owed from our long and cherished acquaintance over the years. Your teachings exemplified those qualities that must be fought for and defended at all times. Your teachings have made an indelible mark on me. Through working with you I learned about interstices of difference so many years ago. I vividly remember your scolding not to forget gender and class in my anti-racist analysis? The discussions, writings, socializing, communications and politicking have been great and revealing. You taught me not to forget history, to see my Blackness and Africanness as converging and mingled. You taught us to remember the shoulders of those departed on which we all stand today. You taught me to be courageous and to be a distinctive Black voice in a colonial and imperial world. You taught usto be humble in our claim to know and to respect and honor scholarship. But above all you taught us that scholarship was meaningless if not afflicted with politics and conscience at all times.
It is true they say lives are worth living. You are no exception. You have surely made a difference in the lives of many of us past, present and the future to me. We cannot repay you, Agnes. We can sincerely hope and pray the good Lord will give you a resting place free from all the hostilities and injustices we see around us today and for which you so courageously fought to lay bare. We will miss you a lot. Please as an Elder do not forget us. Prepare a place for us and set up an integrative anti-racism caucus if there is none where you are. Almighty God please allow our dear sisterto continue to write and share her ideas with us at all times in spirit. We need her in the on-going struggles to create new futures. We will always be her obedient students. And, please God let Agnes give a talk or lecture during one of your friday nights in Heaven. You will enjoy it, my Lord.
My dear sister, thank you so very much and rest in deserved peace for a job well done.
61 Pleasant St
Antigonish, NS B2G 1W6
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