Guest post by Janet McLaughlin, Assistant Professor, Health Studies; Research Associate, International Migration Research Centre, Wilfrid Laurier University
I am writing to honour the legacy of Dr Kerry Preibisch, a much loved University of Guelph professor who passed away on January 28th after a very courageous journey with cancer. Kerry was a mentor to me and many other students and colleagues. Throughout her impressive career, she became an internationally recognized scholar for her work in rural sociology, globalized agricultural and food systems and the people who labour in these systems, particularly migrant farm workers.
Kerry worked especially closely with migrant women from Mexico and Guatemala. Based on years of dedicated research, she was among the first scholars to write about the unique issues faced by migrant women in a field normally dominated by the male perspective. She also helped us to understand the social relations between migrant workers and Canadian communities and migrants’ centrality to Canadian and global food systems.
Kerry’s findings not only made their way into renowned national and international scholarly journals; she also returned her research directly to the women, engaging them and their communities in helping to create positive change. The workers deeply cared for and appreciated the woman whom they affectionately called “la profesora Kerry.” Kerry also gave expert testimony at human rights tribunal proceedings and in front of various provincial, national and international bodies, including the United Nations, tirelessly advocating for better treatment and policies for the migrant workers she loved. She was recognized with a César E. Chávez Black Eagle Award in agricultural workers’ rights for her efforts. The world is a lesser place without Kerry’s presence, but her legacy will live on through her friends and family, her important academic work, and her fight to make the world a more just and compassionate place.
Dr Preibisch was the co-author of two studies published by the CCPA-BC: Citizenship and Precarious Labour in Canadian Agriculture (2015) and Cultivating Farmworker Rights (2008). We are grateful for the work that she did with us, and were very saddened to learn of her death.
Photo of Kerry Preibisch from Twitter