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William Leggett receives prestigious lifetime achievement award

Dr. William Leggett.

William Leggett, professor emeritus in the Department of Biology and Queen's 17th principal, has received the H. Ahlstrom Lifetime Achievement Award from the Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society for his contributions to the fields of larval fish ecology.

The American Fisheries Society is the biggest association of professional aquatic ecologists in the world, with over 9,000 members worldwide.

"œIt feels good to be singled out by such large group of people who I respect so highly," says Dr. Leggett. "œI didn'™t expect to receive this award so it'™s a big honour and thrill to get it."

Dr. Leggett'™s research focuses on the dynamics of fish populations and his work as a biologist and a leader in education has been recognized nationally and internationally. A membership in the Order of Canada, a fellowship from the Royal Society of Canada, and the Award of Excellence in Fisheries Education are just some of the awards he has received for outstanding contributions to graduate education and marine science.

The Early Life History Section of the American Fisheries Society recognized Dr. Leggett'™s "œexceptional contributions to the understanding of early life history of fishes that has inspired the careers of a number of fisheries scientists worldwide and has led to major progress in fish ecology and studies of recruitment dynamics."

The award was recently presented in Quebec City at the 38th annual Larval Fish Conference held in conjunction with the 144th annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society.

 

Inspiring an amazing academic journey

Claire Gummo and Stefanie vo Hlatky
Rhodes Scholar Claire Gummo (Artsci’17) nominated Stéfanie von Hlatky, her former professor in the Department of Political Studies for the Rhodes Inspirational Educator Award. (Supplied Photos) 

When Claire Gummo (Artsci’17) arrived at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 2017 it was a dream come true.

Along her academic journey there was a lot of hard work and dedication and as well as support, including from Stéfanie von Hlatky, an associate professor of political studies at Queen’s University and the former director of the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy (CIDP).

Two years later, remembering her invaluable encouragement and mentorship during her time at Queen’s as an undergraduate student, Gummo nominated Dr. von Hlatky for the Rhodes Inspirational Educator Award. Recently, it was announced that the Rhodes Trust agreed with Gummo.

Making the decision to nominate her former professor was easy, Gummo says. She knows that she wouldn’t have become a Rhodes Scholar without Dr. von Hlatky’s guidance and support.

“Dr. von Hlatky was my biggest advocate in the Rhodes Scholarship selection process. Beyond writing a recommendation letter in support of my application, she ran practice interviews with me, provided encouragement at key moments when I doubted myself, and helped me to select my program at Oxford once I learned I had received the scholarship,” she says. “For me, this piece around encouragement was most crucial. I have, like many young women, a tendency to doubt my own abilities, making something like the Rhodes Scholarship feel like an impossible dream. Dr. von Hlatky pushed me to embrace opportunities and be confident about my own potential and intellect. She did this not just in her words but also by acting as a role model, providing a clear example of what professional excellence and strength look like.” 

Dr. von Hlatky says that while Gummo is strong academically, what set her apart during her time at Queen’s was her level of engagement on campus and her commitment to helping other students, particularly her work and advocacy on sexual violence prevention.

As a professor, Dr. von Hlatky aims to convey her passion to her students when teaching or discussing her research. Receiving this award, she says, has provided an opportunity to think about how to teach with purpose moving forward with an increasingly diverse student body in mind. 

“As professors, we teach and provide training to students but at Queen’s, there are fantastic opportunities for genuine mentorship relationships to emerge,” Dr. von Hlatky says. “This is the case not only because our students are very active in student clubs and continuously involve their professors, but also thanks to programs like Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships (USSRF). For me, involving undergraduate and graduate students in my research projects has been a great way to provide mentorship that goes beyond the classroom.”

Not only has Dr. von Hlatky been a mentor for Gummo but she’s also a role model. Dr. von Hlatky is as equally talented a researcher as she is an educator, Gummo says, with compelling work on topics including gender mainstreaming, contemporary security trends especially within NATO, and military cooperation, that has shaped her own academic thinking in critical ways. 

“I am struck and inspired by the way Dr. von Hlatky’s confidence and intelligence never fails to command the respect and admiration of her colleagues – both military and civilian,” Gummo wrote in her nomination letter. “In this way, she has acted as a crucial role model for me in my own life, shaping my approach to professional and academic endeavours. However, what truly sets Dr. von Hlatky apart is that this boldness is matched with a remarkable generosity of spirit. She goes above and beyond to mentor her students, especially young women, even founding Women in International Security Canada, which has provided support to more than 600 young academics. Taken together, these two disparate yet complementary elements of her character – boldness and generosity – have greatly inspired me, as they have every student who is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to learn from, and with, her.”

Gummo was named Queen’s University’s 57th Rhodes Scholar in 2017. At Oxford she completed a one-year master’s in Global Governance and Diplomacy, followed by a second one-year master’s in Public Policy, where she specialized in gender mainstreaming and practical feminist ethics.

Each year 11 Canadians are selected for Rhodes Scholarships, the most prestigious academic awards in the world. Created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, the scholarships cover all costs for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. The scholarships are awarded to students on the basis of high academic achievement and personal integrity, who are also expected to emerge as “leaders for the world’s future.”

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Queen’s is deeply engaged internationally with strong academic and research ties around the globe including the university’s Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in the United Kingdom, that offers high-quality programs in humanities, social sciences, business and law. Queen’s has more than 220 student exchange partners in more than 40 countries and numerous education abroad experiences available.

Queen’s hosts diplomats from across Asia-Pacific

Annual Ambassadors’ Forum brings international representatives to campus for networking and knowledge sharing.

Queen’s representatives and international ambassadors pose together in front of Summerhill, a yearly tradition after the Ambassadors’ Forum.
Queen’s representatives and international ambassadors pose together in front of Summerhill, a yearly tradition after the Ambassadors’ Forum.

Diplomats from 10 countries across the Asia-Pacific region met at Queen’s University recently for the Ambassadors' Forum – an annual event that provides opportunities for international networking, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. Representatives from China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, South Korea, and Vietnam joined Queen’s academics and administrators for discussions of international education, partnerships, and economic and political issues.

“I want to thank our guests for joining this year’s Ambassadors' Forum, and for sharing their invaluable perspectives on opportunities and challenges we all share,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “Effective partnerships are built on communication, so this annual gathering serves as a fantastic opportunity to deepen these connections and explore untapped potential for future collaboration.”

First held in 2003, the Ambassadors' Forum was developed and nurtured by Hok-Lin Leung, Professor Emeritus in the Queen’s Department for Geography and Planning. The yearly event hosts ambassadors, high commissioners, and national representatives, as well as Queen’s academics and administrators for a luncheon and private guest lecture. This year, David Detomasi, Adjunct Associate Professor at Smith School of Business addressed forum guests with a talk entitled “The New International Trade Order”.

“I want to thank Dr. Leung for continuing to devote significant time and effort into building and strengthening Queen’s University’s relationships with this important community,” says Dr. Harris.

Dr. Harris was joined by other administrators in representing Queen’s at the forum, including Fahim Quadir, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies; Kent Novakowski, Associate Vice-Principal (Research); and Jill Scott, Interim Associate Vice-Principal (International).

“We must continually strive to set the bar higher for ourselves as we work to equip our students with the tools they will need to become global citizens,” says Dr. Scott, who closed out the luncheon with remarks about the social mission of universities like Queen’s.

The spring edition of the annual Ambassadors' Forum took place at Queen’s on Friday, May 31.

Castle campus marks 25 years

Queen’s Bader International Study Centre to celebrate milestone with alumni reunion.

Queen's Bader International Study Centre
Queen's Bader International Study Centre (BISC) celebrates 25 years.

Inside the walls of a nearly 600-year-old English castle, Queen’s alumni, faculty, staff, and friends will soon gather to mark the 25th anniversary of the Queen’s Bader International Study Centre (BISC) housed there. Among them: a NASA astronaut, the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, leading academics, Canadian expats, local community members, and those traveling from around the world – all of whom will be on hand from June 29-30, 2019 to celebrate the past, present, and future of the overseas Queen’s campus.

“For a quarter century, the BISC has been a temporary home to Queen’s students looking to further broaden the scope of their learning,” says Hugh Horton, Vice-Provost and BISC Executive Director. “Here, they are able to engage with scholars from across the world, in a close-knit, interdisciplinary academic environment to not only enhance their education, but give it a truly global dimension.”

Visionary philanthropists and Queen’s alumni Alfred and Isabel Bader gifted the BISC, located on the Herstmonceux Castle estate in East Sussex, UK, to Queen’s University in 1993, and it opened doors to students in 1994. It has since provided innovative, international undergraduate and graduate programs to over 7,000 Queen’s students, across disciplines as diverse as archaeology, music, international law and politics, global health, international project management, and astronomy. Program offerings continue to grow.

In 2017, the BISC accepted its first group of students from the Queen’s Concurrent Education Program, which prepares undergraduates to become educators. Students enrolled in this program complete local practicums at primary and secondary schools nearby the BISC campus, providing a hands-on comparative learning experience.

This year, programming for science students is set to expand with the opening of the BISC’s brand-new teaching science laboratory and innovation design space, allowing the campus to offer practical science subjects on campus for the very first time. The facility will be officially unveiled during the 25th anniversary celebrations.

The Bader International Study Centre
Queen's Bader International Study Centre.

“The Baders envisaged a learning facility that could take the Queen’s educational experience Alfred deeply cherished, and extend its reach internationally,” says Dr. Horton. “With 25-years of BISC alumni now living and working in countries across the world—many of whom are set to join us in celebration of this incredible milestone—and our ever-growing complement of programs, I think their vision has truly taken shape. In honour of their vision, and of Alfred, who passed away late last year, I look forward to continuing our momentum forward into the next 25 years.”

On June 29, 2019, BISC alumni and their families are invited to the first day of 25th anniversary celebrations. There, they will have a chance to reminisce during castle tours, have tea in the Elizabethan gardens, mingle with professors, and attend the unveiling of a commemorative garden honouring the Baders. NASA astronaut and Queen’s alumnus Drew Feustel, who returned from the International Space Station last October following a six-month mission, will also deliver a keynote address.

On June 30, the celebration will open to the public and take on a Canadian theme in recognition of the Canada Day weekend. Canadians living in England are encouraged to join alumni on the castle grounds for street hockey, tastes from home such as poutine and Nanaimo bars, falconry and archery demonstrations, and a symphonova performance by the BISC Musicians in Residence, featuring works by Dan School of Drama and Music Professor John Burge.

Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf, Chancellor Jim Leech, and Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand will be among senior leaders there to help mark the milestone.

“In 1993, the Baders bestowed Queen’s with the BISC; an amazing gift that went on to play a foundational role in extending our university’s global horizons,” says Principal Woolf. “The unique, experiential learning prospects that the facility provides helped inspire us to chart educational linkages with many other institutions and organizations internationally – opening a world of opportunities for our students.”

Those interested in attending the festivities can register on the website.

NASA astronaut added to Bader International Study Centre celebration

[Drew Feustel on the International Space Station]
NASA astronaut Drew Feustel (PhD’95, DSc’16) will be the keynote speaker at the BISC’s 25th Anniversary Celebration.

The last time astronaut Drew Feustel talked to the Queen’s community, he was floating 408 kilometres above Earth on the International Space Station.

Dr. Feustel (PhD'95, DSc'16), who returned to Earth in October after a six-month mission, has been named the keynote speaker at the Bader International Study Centre’s (BISC) 25th Anniversary Celebration from June 29-30. During his mission, Dr. Feustel participated in a live question-and-answer session with the Queen’s and Kingston communities by video – a first for the university.

BISC Vice-Provost and Executive Director Hugh Horton is thrilled to add an astronaut to the weekend’s lineup of activities because it ties into the Castle’s astronomical history. Before Herstmonceux Castle was donated by Alfred Bader (Sc’45, Arts’46, MSc’47, LLD’86) and Isabel Bader (LLD’07) to Queen’s in the early 1990s, it was home to the Royal Greenwich Observatory from 1957 to 1988. The observatory is still on the grounds, and the BISC also offers an introductory astronomy course.

“Drew helped repair the Hubble Telescope during his space shuttle mission,” says Dr. Horton. “He is an alumnus who has had a profound impact on science. For years, students and researchers at the Castle have studied astronomy. Now we will learn from someone who has the first-hand experience of life in space.”

Additional activities planned for the BISC 25th anniversary weekend include Castle tours, Queen’s tea in the Elizabethan gardens, chances to mingle with BISC professors, falconry, archery, and the dedication of a new tricolour-themed garden in memory of Alfred Bader. On June 30, the Castle will open up to the community for Canada Day celebrations. Organizers are hoping Canadians living in England will join alumni for street hockey, tastes from home such as poutine and Nanaimo bars, and a concert by the BISC Musicians in Residence featuring works by Dan School of Drama and Music Professor John Burge.

Many alumni will be reminiscing about the past 25 years at Herstmonceux Castle, but Dr. Horton also wants people to think about the next 25 years.

“The celebration is as much about looking forward as it is about looking back,” he says. “Twenty-five years ago we essentially took an abandoned castle and turned it into a modern university campus with small class sizes and cutting-edge learning tools designed to create an exceptional learning environment. Now we want to share our plans with alumni on how the BISC student experience is going to evolve and improve in the future.”

One change is a new teaching science lab and innovation design space. It will be unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II’s representative, the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, on June 29. The new lab is part of BISC’s plans to expand its course offerings to include more science-based programs.

Several senior Queen’s administrators will travel to England to take part in the celebrations, including Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf (Artsci’80), Chancellor Jim Leech (MBA’73), and Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand (Artsci’94).

For details about the event, or to register, visit the Queen’s alumni website.

This article was first published on the Queen's Alumni website.

Queen’s around the world

  • OVERALL WINNER/PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Henry Memmott – Fisherman on Inle Lake,  Myanmar
    OVERALL WINNER/PEOPLE'S CHOICE: Henry Memmott – Fisherman on Inle Lake, Myanmar
  • LANDSCAPE/NATURE: Matthew Degeer – Sunrise at Lower Lake - New York
    LANDSCAPE/NATURE: Matthew Degeer – Sunrise at Lower Lake - New York
  • PEOPLE & CULTURE: Alexa Reid – Mamazuzu, Vietnam
    PEOPLE & CULTURE: Alexa Reid – Mamazuzu, Vietnam
  • HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Nadia El Dabee – Toes in the Bay, India
    HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Nadia El Dabee – Toes in the Bay, India
  • CRITICAL GLOBAL ISSUES: Emily Marriott – Iceberg, Iceland (Global warming)
    CRITICAL GLOBAL ISSUES: Emily Marriott – Iceberg, Iceland (Global warming)

Increasingly, the international experience is becoming an integral part of a post-secondary education. 

At Queen’s a growing number of students participate in global learning opportunities through Queen’s exchanges and other programs. At the same time, a diverse group of students arrive at the university from around the world. 

Through the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) Photo Contest, now in its 11th year, students have the opportunity to share their experiences, whether here in Kingston, somewhere in Canada, or at any point across the globe. The contest continues to draw stunning photos with close to 150 students participating.

“A photo is a snapshot capturing a journey where exploration and learning takes place. We sometimes find ourselves come across instances and experiences where words cannot capture the essence of the moment we are experiencing,” says QUIC Director Sultan Almajil. “Photography allows us to share a story and provides viewers an opportunity to see the world through our students’ eyes. I am very proud of QUIC’s photo contest legacy and look forward to continue supporting our students in their journey and telling us their stories.”

This year’s winning photo, as selected by a panel of judges, was submitted by Henry Memmott, an exchange student from the University of St Andrews in Scotland where he studies biology and geography. The photo catches a fisherman on Inle Lake in Myanmar as he casts his net. The photo also won the People’s Choice Award.

Memmott arrived at Queen’s as part of the new dual-placement Tri-SEP exchange program that allows students to study the Global Environmental Challenges of the 21st Century at Queen’s University, St Andrews, and the National University of Singapore.

The contest features four categories – People and Culture; Landscape / Nature; Home Away From Home; Critical Global Issues.

This year’s category winners are:
People & Culture
1: Alexa Reid: Mamazuzu - Vietnam
2: Nikhil Arora: Peaceful Reflections - Abu Dhabi.
3: Sydnie D'Aoust: All in a Day’s Work - India.

Landscape / Nature
1: Matthew Degeer: Sunrise at Lower Lake - New York.
2: Jordan Bertagnolli: Failed Hunt - India.
3: Gizem Ozdil: Istanbul - Turkey.

Home away from Home
1: Nadia El Dabee: Toes in the Bay - India.
2: Atefeh Azizitorghabeh: Snowman at John Orr Tower - Kingston.
3: Jessie Han: Farewell - BISC at Herstmonceux, UK.

Critical Global Issues
1: Emily Marriott: Iceberg – Iceland – (Global warming) 
2: Monique Sereno: Staring Contest - China (Endangered species, social media). 
3: Bruna Gallo: Viewing Machine - Brazil (Environmental degradation). 

•   •   •

All of the winning photos can be viewed on the QUIC page on Flickr. Learn more about the opportunities offered by QUIC.

Japan-Canada relations in an era of global change

Students discuss strategies through which the two countries can tackle shared challenges.

JACAC participants posing for a photo with Consul General of Japan in Toronto, Takako Ito (fourth from left).
JACAC participants at Queen's with the Consul General of Japan in Toronto, Takako Ito (fourth from left).

Canadian and Japanese university students recently gathered at Queen's University to discuss contemporary and future relations between the countries at the 10th annual Japan-Canada Academic Consortium (JACAC) Student Forum.

Trcolour Globe
Queen's in the World

A group of 28 high-achieving students from schools across Canada and Japan learned how the two G8 partners can continue to promote positive progress in an era of increasing interconnectedness, shifts in governance, and global political, economic, and environmental risks.

“Experiential, cross-cultural learning opportunities like the JACAC Student Forum are so important for young people seeking future careers in an increasingly connected global society,” says Jill Scott, Interim Associate Vice-Principal (International). “Engaging peers in thoughtful conversation about diverse worldviews helps students hone their abilities to build understanding and collaborative relationships capable of inspiring positive and equitable change.”

Comprised of 14 Japanese participants and 14 Canadian participants – including Queen’s student Nathan Bateman – the group heard from academic experts in international relations, the Consul General of Japan in Toronto, Takako Ito, as well as former Canadian Ambassador to Japan and Queen's alumnus Mackenzie Clugston.

JACAC participants making their final presentations at the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa.
JACAC participants making their final presentations at the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa.

As part of the forum, participants were also divided into groups to prepare a final presentation for a panel of expert judges at the Japanese embassy in Ottawa, where they traveled during the final days of the forum. Each group assumed a simulated role of G8 member-states to discuss and define strategies for promoting global peace and security, climate change action, trade, and technological innovation.

Final presentations were assessed by the panel, which included Yukako Ochi, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy; Kwansei Gakuin University professor, Takamichi Mito; Seinan Gakuin University professor, Christian Winkler; University of Waterloo professor, David Welch; and Dr. Scott.

Borne out of the Canada-Japan University Rectors Roundtable in 2004, the JACAC Student Forum is one of many longstanding student exchange partnerships between Queen’s and Japanese institutions. Additionally, Queen’s also has 10 active academic agreements with Japanese institutions, and over 120 active alumni in Japan.

“It is an honour for Queen’s to host the JACAC Student Forum on its 10th anniversary,” says Dr. Scott. “This milestone not only speaks to the lasting impact the forum has on Canadian and Japanese students, but also to the strength of the relationship between our two countries, which celebrate 90 years of diplomatic relations this year as well.”

Among distinguished Queen’s alumni is the late Prince Takamado Norihito, a member of Japan's imperial family, who spent much of his life dedicated to fostering a strong relationship between Canada and Japan. Since 2004, the Prince Takamado Visiting Student Scholarship created in his memory has provided Japanese undergraduate students with an annual opportunity to be awarded a fully-funded year of study at Queen’s.

Students interested in participating in next year’s JACAC Student Forum should visit the JACAC website.

Scholars at risk

Queen’s joins international network created to protect threatened academics.

Queen’s University has become the newest member of Scholars at Risk (SAR) – an international network of institutions and individuals working to protect scholars facing threats to their lives, liberty, and well-being.

Queen’s School of Medicine students, who recently championed the university’s involvement with SAR, marked the occasion with a lecture by historian Evren Altinkas, who secured an academic position at the University of Guelph through SAR after he had to resign his university position and flee Turkey due to his research and activism.

Evren Altinkas speaks to students at Queen's University.
Evren Altinkas speaks to students at Queen's University, marking Queen's University's membership to Scholars at Risk.

“We were so happy to host Dr. Altinkas at Queen’s University for a lunchtime lecture during his time as a Scholar at Risk at the University of Guelph,” says Nicole Asztalos, one of the Queen’s medical students who first pursued the SAR program. “His work on academic freedom around the world and the struggles that he and his family have experienced because of this work highlight why the SAR network is important. It was also an excellent opportunity for the Queen’s community to learn more about this organization and the types of people who we can help by being involved." 

On Feb. 8, Dr. Altinkas spoke to members of the Queen’s community about his experience as part of his lecture on historical insights on academics and academic freedom in Europe, North America, and the Middle East. He discussed his involvement with SAR, and subsequent recruitment to University of Guelph. In addition, he provided insights into how accessibility of academic thought could be enhanced in Canada.

“It was a tremendous opportunity to have Dr. Altinkas share his journey with the Queen's community,” says Danielle Weber-Adrian, another Queen’s medical student. “With his presentation, Queen's University has launched its involvement in the Scholars at Risk program – an endeavor we hope to nurture into an ongoing legacy.”

Following his lecture, Dr. Altinkas met with Tom Harris, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), and Jill Scott, Interim Associate Vice-Principal (International), to discuss in more detail how Queen’s can implement SAR initiatives on campus.

“Scholars at Risk is doing important international work to ensure that academics are free to think, question, and communicate their work,” Dr. Scott says. “I’m pleased to announce Queen’s University’s membership to the network, and look forward to engaging the campus community, particularly our faculty members.”

As a member, Queen’s is now able to participate in the full offerings of the network including participating in human rights research and legal clinics, and potentially hosting a scholar on campus.

For more information on the SAR program, contact the Office of the Associate Vice-Principal (International).

Indigenous students to share worldwide wisdom

The 2019 Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program is now accepting applications.

2018 Matariki Dartmouth group visiting Tantaquidgeon Museum at Mohegan Nation
The 2018 Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Program (MISMP) group visits Tantaquidgeon Museum at Mohegan Nation. (Supplied Photo)

Students from five international universities will have the opportunity to gather at Queen’s for an immersive, two-week program designed to encourage learning, sharing, and discussion of issues faced by Indigenous communities worldwide. Marking its fourth annual event, the Matariki Indigenous Student Mobility Programme (MISMP) will centre this year’s discussions on how colonialism has and continues to affect Indigenous learning, language, and land, as well as how communities have remained resilient in the face of these challenges.

“In spite of centuries of colonial oppression, Indigenous communities around the world continue to live their cultures, honour their lands, speak their languages, and educate their young people,” says Lindsay Morcom, Assistant Professor of Aboriginal Education and MISMP faculty lead at Queen’s. “This program provides students opportunities to share their knowledge, engage global peers in deeply meaningful ways, and participate in activities that are about authentically engaging Indigenous ways of knowing, understanding, doing, and honouring. MISMP is not a learning experience about decolonization, but one that is, in itself, an exercise in decolonization.”

Queen’s students, as well as student visitors from Dartmouth College (U.S.), the University of Western Australia, the University of Otago (New Zealand), and Durham University (UK), will participate in a variety of experiential learning opportunities with Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee communities local to Eastern Ontario, connecting with the history and current lived experiences of the people. A number of land-based activities will see students visit nearby Indigenous historic sites, and during classroom sessions they will hear from faculty experts who are conducting Indigenous research both here at Queen’s and abroad.

“Queen’s is very fortunate to have a number of professors and graduate students with expertise in a wide array of Indigenous studies,” says Dr. Morcom.  “Our deep community connections also allow us to engage knowledge keepers and elders with sophisticated understanding of learning, language, and land from Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe perspectives, and our relationships through the Matariki Network of Universities (MNU) will continue to nurture international collaborations, partnerships, and friendships for our students and faculty.”

Dartmouth College hosted last year’s MISMP and during the event’s closing ceremony members of the Abenaki First Nation – the Indigenous community nearest to Dartmouth College – presented a rare stone said to embody the spirit of the gathering and the MNU to Kanonhsyonne (Janice Hill), Queen’s Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation).

“Gifting is a very important element of many, if not most, Indigenous cultures,” says Ms. Hill. “These sorts of similarities in experience demonstrate exactly why programs like MISMP are important. So much can be learned when we seek out those things that link us together as individuals and communities. This exchange of knowledge has the potential to empower, equip, and embolden Indigenous communities in our pursuit for positive change.”

In November 2018, Ms. Hill was appointed to the inaugural position of Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), following recommendations put forth by the university’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission Task Force in 2017.

“The creation of the office I now occupy is just one example of the increasing importance Queen’s is placing on Indigenous perspectives in the post-secondary sector,” says Ms. Hill. “I think our students and faculty will serve as a shining example of how Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation can be approached in the university sector, and I look forward to sharing and learning from our MISMP guests.

“Research, academics, Indigenization, decolonization, reconciliation; these are all preceded by and tied to our relationships. Opportunities like MISMP help us build new connections and partnerships, and ultimately allow us to accomplish so much more."

The fourth-annual MISMP will run from June 23 to July 6, 2019. Indigenous and non-Indigenous students interested in participating can visit the website to apply.

Law student plans to make her country disability-friendly

[Hiwot Mekuanent]
With funding from the MasterCard Foundation, PhD student Hiwot Mekuanent is using her evidence-based study and scholarship at Queen’s Law to find the right solution to end discriminatory laws and practices in Ethiopia. (Photo by Andrew Van Overbeke).

Hiwot Mekuanent will be applying her doctoral work at Queen’s Faculty of Law to help improve the lives of people with disabilities in her homeland Ehtiopia. Admitted into the school’s PhD program as an “exceptional faculty leader” from the University of Gondar, she has received a Mastercard Foundation at Queen’s University Scholarship to complete her studies.      

With an LLM in human rights law from Addis Ababa University, she also has over six years of experience in the area. She is a lecturer and the director for the Disability Studies and Service Directorate at the University of Gondar, where she focuses on creating conducive learning and working environments for students and employees with disabilities. 

Hiwot Mekuanent recently spoke about the focus of her dissertation, how she became an expert in the area, and her plans for the future. 

Tell us about your research. 

My research focuses on the issues that people with disabilities and their families face in Ethiopia. My dissertation critically examines Ethiopia’s institutional and legal framework that governs the rights of persons with disabilities. Specifically, I explore why Ethiopia still has discriminatory laws and institutional frameworks while committed to both domestic and international human rights instruments that guarantee equality for persons with disabilities. For example, the Ethiopian Custom Authority enacted a directive that allows persons with disabilities to import a personal-use car duty free. While this provision may seem progressive, it only benefits persons with disabilities who appear at the Social Affairs Office in person and claim their rights. So in practice, it discriminates between persons with different types of disability.  

What led you to the area of human rights law, and more specifically to disability rights law? 

My brother has an intellectual disability and I’ve seen him face a number of challenges throughout his life. This has made me passionate about dedicating my education and career to breaking down barriers for persons with disabilities. I started with my undergraduate thesis that explored the “Rights of Persons with Disabilities under Ethiopian Legal System.” I built on this knowledge in my master’s degree in human rights law obtained from Addis Ababa University, where I wrote my thesis on the “Right to Education of Children With Intellectual Disability and its Implementation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.” Particularly, my master’s degree allowed me to see the different concepts and issues of disability from a human rights perspective. I started to think about the international instruments and guarantees that protect the rights of persons with disabilities. Moreover, my experience serving as the director of the Disability Studies and Service Directorate of the University of Gondar exposed me to different laws and procedures that are discriminatory to persons with disabilities and challenged me to explore them in greater depth. My academic foundation and first-hand experience in the directorship role at the university are my main inspirations to continue my studies of discriminatory laws and practices in Ethiopia. I truly believe that evidence-based study and scholarship is the best way to find the right solution. 

What are your future plans after graduation? 

My plan after graduation is to continue to actively engage in disability advocacy work. I believe that it is important to turn my knowledge and expertise in the area of human rights law into practice. I would like to establish an organization that is dedicated to creating disability-friendly environments in public institutions. I am sure that my four years of PhD studies under guidance from Queen’s Law faculty will help me reach my goals and that I will gain important new perspectives from Canada that will shape my future. 

What do you like best about your Queen’s Law studies in Kingston thus far? 

I receive excellent supervision from my advisors, Professor Ashwini Vasanthakumar (Faculty of Law) and Professor Heather Aldersey (School of Rehabilitation Therapy). I appreciate their guidance and support of my research. What I like best about Queen’s Law is the Lederman Library and full support of faculty in accessing the plentiful resources in the library. 

What do you like to do outside the classroom? 

Outside of the classroom I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children. As a mom, taking care of my family and helping my children grow is important to me. I believe I have the responsibility to help shape the next generation be the best they can be to take care of our world. 

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