Dear LMMI Community Members,
Following my 13 March message, I write now to confirm that the L.M. Montgomery Institute’s Biennial Conference, L. M. Montgomery and Vision, is cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosting an international conference this June is just not safe for members of our Montgomery community and those with whom we connect.
In important ways, nothing will replace the energy, joy, and fun of gathering in person. Especially at this difficult time for our world we recognize how Montgomery has been, in times of peril and distress, a source of deep consolation and of happy distraction. The L.M. Montgomery Institute committee has given a great deal of consideration over the past weeks to alternatives to an in-person conference should this cancellation become necessary. Among these:
- We considered but rejected moving the conference to a later date, such as June of 2021. We were concerned that a new date would not fit the travel availabilities or scholarship timetables of some presenters, we did not want to interfere with Montgomery events which are deliberately scheduled off-year to our conference, and we remain uncertain how desirable international travel will be until a vaccine and immunity are widespread.
- We considered but rejected moving the L.M. Montgomery and Vision program to 2022, not wanting to hold back the scholarship created for this June by so long, and wanting to keep open the pathway for a fresh conference theme that conference year.
- We made detailed plans for the possibility of hosting a virtual, online, conference this June, with livestreamed and recorded presentations over the scheduled conference dates. We sorted out how that could work technologically, and until recently, I would have guessed that is the way we would go. But we have come to believe that a virtual conference this summer is not the best choice for our community. One reality is that we have all witnessed reports of great tragedy, sometimes very close to Montgomery community members, and we expect that losses may only grow in the weeks to come. Perhaps this is a time to make way for witnessing grief, and for honouring loss.
- Another reality is that many of our presenters are feeling worn down, drained by relentless Zooming and videoconferencing. Like so many, our presenters carry the stresses of uncertainly, financial concern, worry for parents and grandparents, working from home while homeschooling little ones, and so on. Members of our community are of course in different physical and psychological spaces; while preparing for and presenting virtually in June would be a fit for some, we did not want to add burden to, or exclude, those for whom this is just not the time.
However, the wonderful news is that there is a way to ensure that the scholarship and the ideas being readied for conference presentation can still be shared with the Montgomery community in due course, and that is through the many mechanisms within the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies. Options include peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed articles, shorter notes, video, visual arts, and creative writing. Some people will be ready to make submissions in June, and for others submission in later weeks and later months will be a better fit. Journal Editor, Dr. Kate Scarth, and Co-editor for L.M. Montgomery and Vision submissions, Dr. Lesley Clement, will be in touch with conference presenters about opportunities.
Lesley had developed a wonderful mentorship program which already has linked new and emerging scholars accepted to present at the conference with more experienced mentors. She will be in touch will all those participants about furthering their relationships.
For those who have already registered for the conference, full refunds (with no administrative fee deducted) will be processed for all tickets purchased, including conference registrations, pe-conference workshops, banquet tickets, and bus tour tickets. These will appear as credit card refunds. Accommodations booking should be cancelled directly by those who have made them.
Many people have worked to develop the L.M. Montgomery and Vision conference. On behalf of our community, I want to express a special thank you to Dr. Lesley Clement and Dr. Emily Woster, conference Co-Chairs, for their extraordinary intellectual contributions and hard work in creating the conference program. We so wish we were all able to join with them in person to celebrate in June.
On behalf of the L.M. Montgomery Institute, thank you for your understanding. We look forward to learning about the work of presenters through the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies, in such time as is a good fit. We wish good health for you and for yours, for your place and your country. And we do look forward, not so far away, to welcoming you to Montgomery’s Island in June of 2022.
Philip Smith, Chair
L.M. Montgomery Institute Committee
9 April, 2020