In Memoriam: Dr. Agnes Calliste

Sep 4 2018

Dr. Calliste taught at St. Francis Xavier University (Nova Scotia) for several decades where she pioneered courses on the sociology of race and gender.

Dr. L. Lynda Harling Stalker, Chair and Associate Professor, Sociology at St. Francis Xavier University writes:

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 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 StFX’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 made a deep and lasting contribution to the culture of social activism at StFX, 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.

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