Award-winning graduate student research on social justice


Left to right: Lara Aluko and Carli LaPierre

Sunday marks the United Nations World Day of Social Justice – an international day recognizing the need to promote social justice, which includes efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion, gender inequality, unemployment, human rights, and social protections.

Recognizing that this day is approaching, we are pleased to announce that two Faculty of Arts and Science graduate students recently earned our Dean’s Award for Social Justice and are focusing their research on this important topic.

PhD student Lara Aluko’s (Geography and Planning) research focuses on the intersection of Feminist Political Geography and Migration. She is analyzing how migrant West-African women navigate belonging and citizenship in Canada.

“Migrants typically experience diverse challenges upon arrival at their new destinations, including culture shock, devaluation of foreign credentials, isolation, weak socio-cultural support, among others,” explains Aluko. “My research will shed light on the issues West-African migrant women face in Canada, identify issues that disproportionately affect them, and help them experience better access to social well-being. By studying the impact of culture, spirituality, language, and family dynamics on the experiences of migrant West-African women, I will distribute my research findings in a way that will not only improve academic scholarship but also engage with policymakers to tailor public policies and programs to the unique needs of target diaspora groups.”

Along with her research focus, Aluko volunteers with KEYS Kingston in the Refugee Resettlement Services program. Her goal is to engage with migrant women on the grassroots level and help them navigate resettlement into a new environment.

PhD student Carli LaPierre’s (History) graduate research explores how imperial and colonial actors used visual imagery to situate themselves in space. Her research expands on her Master’s work on the British siege of French Port Royale (1710) to also include the sieges at Louisbourg (1745 and 1754), and Montreal (1760).

“My research dovetails with World Day of Social Justice because it relates to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” says LaPierre. “Contemporary issues of territory and nation-to-nation relationships are deeply rooted in imperial narratives. By interrogating views of Port Royale, Louisbourg, and Montreal my research aims to denationalize and re-frame our understandings of these geopolitical spaces. With a better conception of how British and French empires made their territorial claims to authority in the eighteenth century, we are better equipped to dismantle persistent colonial ideologies and respond to calls to return land to Indigenous peoples.”

Faculty of Arts and Science Dean’s Awards are based on academic merit and are intended to support graduate students in making contributions to their field of study. To learn more, see the Graduate Student Tuition, Funding, and Scholarships webpage.