Robbins-Ollivier Award for Excellence in Equity: 2022, Inaugural Competition

Update: April 28, 2022 – Under Objectives, below, the word “research” has been replaced with “projects,” to clarify that the purpose of the award is to fund game-changing projects in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) to address barriers in the research ecosystem more broadly, and/or game-changing EDI initiatives that would be implemented in the nominating institution:

“The award provides a total of $100,000 over one year to a faculty member or a team of faculty members nominated by an eligible institution, to fund the implementation of bold and potentially game-changing projects led by the nominated individual or team that….”

Value and duration

Total of $100,000 granted over one year (with possibility of a one-year extension in time only)

Up to three awards per year

Nomination deadline

July 29, 2022, 8 p.m. (eastern)

Results announced

Winter 2022-23 (to be confirmed)

Submit the nomination online

Nomination form

On this page


The three federal research funding agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (the agencies)—are pleased to launch the inaugural Robbins-Ollivier Award for Excellence in Equity. Awarded through the tri-agency Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP), the award recognizes the significant and impactful contributions that Marjorie Griffin Cohen, Louise Forsyth, Glenis Joyce, Audrey Kobayashi, Shree Mulay, Susan Prentice, Michèle Ollivier and Wendy Robbins have made to increase the level of equity in the CRCP and Canada’s research ecosystem more broadly, by way of their 2003 Canadian Human Rights complaints and their concerted efforts in the mediation processes, which led to both the 2006 Settlement Agreement and its addendum in 2019.

The award recognizes the contributions of the entire group, while being named after the late Michèle Ollivier and Wendy Robbins, who passed away in 2010 and 2017, respectively, prior to the signing of the 2019 Addendum.

Research excellence

To attract and retain excellent research talent, Canada’s research system and environment must be free of systemic barriers so that all researchers have access to opportunities and equitable outcomes. In addition, for Canada to reach its full potential in research and innovation, it is critical that the research ecosystem facilitate the equitable participation of members of racialized minorities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, women, and individuals from the LGBTQ2+ community, and that it recognize and value the excellence of their contributions. For this reason, it is important that all participants in the research ecosystem contribute to identifying and eliminating the documented systemic barriers that impede the career advancement, recruitment and retention of these individuals in research.

Bold and game-changing action

Despite decades of efforts to address inequities in research and academia, systemic barriers persist. The historical underrepresentation of members of racialized minorities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, women, and individuals from the LGBTQ2+ community in the CRCP reflects the barriers that exist in academia and Canada’s research ecosystem more broadly. These barriers often exist in research programs, institutional policies, practice and culture, and in the organizational environment.

To address the persistence of these barriers, bold and potentially game-changing measures and actions that challenge the status quo and spark change are needed.


The objectives of the annual Robbins-Ollivier equity award are to:

  • fund bold and potentially game-changing projects that will challenge the status quo, spark change and take action to address persistent systemic barriers in the research ecosystem and academia;
  • recognize faculty members who contribute their time, expertise and lived experience to help address inequities in their institution, the research ecosystem and academia; and
  • provide opportunities for students and trainees to contribute to this important work.

The award provides a total of $100,000 over one year to a faculty member or a team of faculty members nominated by an eligible institution, to fund the implementation of bold and potentially game-changing projects led by the nominated individual or team that:

  • contributes to the understanding of the persistence of systemic barriers in the nominating institution and/or the research ecosystem and academia more broadly; and
  • identifies innovative measures that could be implemented to change the status quo and break down those barriers in the long term.

The awardee(s) and their project will be featured on the CRCP website and social media. The individual or team will also be invited by the agencies to present their project and its impacts in a public forum (e.g., a conference).

The institution whose nominee(s) receive(s) the award will be required to provide the CRCP with a promotion strategy (2 pages maximum for English; 2.5 pages maximum for French) outlining a proposed approach for promoting and celebrating the award winner(s) and the impact and outcomes of their initiative. The CRCP’s communications team will be available to help develop this plan in collaboration with the institution.

Institutional eligibility

To be eligible to submit a nomination, the nominating institution must:

Faculty eligibility

To be eligible for nomination, the faculty member(s) must:

  • be eligible to receive grant funding from the agencies;
  • be holding a full-time academic appointment at the institution at the time of nomination and for the duration of the award; and
  • be in good standing with CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC (e.g., they cannot have eligibility limits placed on them due to not meeting grant reporting requirements for the CRCP or have sanctions in place tied to the agencies’ responsible conduct of research policy).

Current and former Canada Research Chairs (CRCs) are eligible, as are individuals who are not CRCs. Institutional administrators who are eligible to hold grant funding from the agencies are also eligible to be nominated.

The CRCP is an institutional program and does not accept applications from or fund researchers directly. A senior manager responsible for the administration of the CRCP at the institution, at the vice-president level, must submit the nomination.

Award funds

Eligible expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • teaching/administrative release for the individual(s);
  • student/trainee stipend(s) or salary; and
  • research costs according to the Chairs Administration Guide.

The list above is not comprehensive, as the proposed project/initiative is expected to be bold and game-changing and thus may include costs that might not specifically be stipulated as eligible in the program’s administration guide. The assessment process will include an administrative review of the proposed expenses to determine whether they are aligned with the objectives of the award.

The primary awardee (not the nominating institution) is to manage the spending of award funds according to the project proposal submitted.

Institutions may choose to devote additional funds to support the proposed project/initiative(s), though it is not a requirement.

Assessment process

The program’s Advisory Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy, which is made up of individuals from research and academia from Canada and abroad, will select award recipients according to the selection criteria of the award and using best practices in adjudication. The advisory committee will also adhere to the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations during the assessment process.

Selection criteria

The selection process will be based on the following criteria:

Selection criteria Description


Evidence that the proposal is bold and potentially game-changing (60%)

  • The initiative is bold and potentially game-changing in terms of challenging the status quo and sparking change in the institution and/or the research ecosystem and academia more broadly.
  • The initiative is informed by evidence and best practices in addressing inequities, and includes an intersectional approach that takes into account intersections and interdependencies of the different lived experiences of and barriers faced by individuals.
  • The expertise and experience of the individual(s) involved in the proposal is appropriate.
  • The initiative includes the participation/engagement of the communities it seeks to benefit and takes steps to mitigate potential unintended harm to these communities.
  • The proposed budget is reasonable for the work proposed and includes student training.

Leadership and commitment to equity (20%)

Evidence of leadership and commitment of the nominee(s) to making the research/academic environment and/or society more equitable

The nominee(s) demonstrate(s) a strong commitment to equity in the research/academic system or in their community more broadly. Examples of this can include:

  • Service on administrative and recruitment committees, serving as an EDI champion
  • Commitment to training (including informal training) and mentoring of students, trainees and emerging scholars from underrepresented groups
  • Commitment to sharing EDI knowledge within the institution and/or the research ecosystem / academia or beyond the academic community (e.g., formal and informal presentations on equity-focused topics, organization of equity-focused conferences or panels, articles, op-eds, etc.)
  • Published research on equity-focused topics
  • Other examples, as applicable

Institutional nomination process and support for the initiative (20%)

  • Evidence that the institution took measures to ensure that the internal nomination process was open and transparent (i.e., all potential nominees were considered), that it was free of conflict of interest, and that steps were taken to limit potential bias
  • Evidence that the institution valued bold and potentially game-changing proposals with the potential to challenge the status quo and spark change in the institution and/or the research ecosystem and academia
  • Evidence that the institution will work with the nominee(s) and support the proposed initiative, as needed, to help it meet its objectives of changing the status quo and sparking change

Nomination process

Each institution may submit only one nomination in a given year.

Nomination package

Every nomination package must be submitted using the institution’s CRCP Sharepoint site. The application instructions can be found in the nomination form.

a) Description of the proposed project (4 pages maximum for English; 5 pages maximum for French)

The project description must be developed by the nominee(s) and must include:

  • a detailed description of the proposed project that shows how it is bold and potentially game-changing;
  • the expected impacts/outcomes, in terms of changing the status quo and sparking change towards a more equitable institution and/or research or academic ecosystem;
  • who will be involved in helping implement the project (e.g., faculty, students, administrators) and what their specific roles will be;
  • how engagement with individuals from underrepresented groups (racialized minorities, persons with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, women, individuals from the LGBTQ2+ communities) will be conducted to help inform the work; and
  • how best practices in equity, including intersectionality, will be applied within the project.

b) Budget (1 page maximum for English and French)

Provide a detailed one-year budget for the initiative that shows how the $100,000 award will be used to meet the objectives stated in the project description.

c) Institutional nomination letter and rationale (3 pages maximum for English; 3.5 pages maximum for French)

This section should present the nominee(s) and describe their contributions to the project. It must include:

  • the name(s) and position(s) of the nominee(s);
  • a summary of each of the nominees’ overall contributions to and leadership in addressing inequities in their institution and/or the research ecosystem and academia more broadly, in alignment with the selection criteria outlined above;
  • the names and current positions of those at the institution (e.g., administrators, faculty, etc.) nominating the individual(s);
  • the signature of the nominating institution’s vice-president-level representative responsible for administering the CRCP at the institution.

d) Institutional nomination process and support for the initiative (2 pages maximum for English; 2.5 pages maximum for French)

This section must provide:

  • a detailed description of the institution’s decision-making process with regard to the nomination, and how it addressed the key principles of openness, transparency, conflict of interest and mitigation of unconscious bias;
  • an outline of how the institution valued, in its selection of the nominee(s), a bold and game-changing initiative that would challenge the status quo and spark change in the institution and/or the research/academic environment; and
  • a detailed description of how the institution will support the initiative and its objectives, including an outline of any potential challenges at the institutional level that the nominees might be expected to face in the implementation of the project (e.g., resistance to change or backlash) and how the institution will help address these.

Limiting unconscious bias

The program encourages the use of inclusive language (e.g., “the nominee” or “they” instead of “he/she”). Inclusive language has been shown to decrease unconscious bias during the evaluation process. When developing the nomination letter, institutions should refer to the CRCP’s guidelines on limiting unconscious bias in letters of reference and the tri-agency training module on unconscious bias in peer review.

Nomination submission

Incomplete nominations will not be accepted. Nominations received after the deadline will not be accepted.

The deadline to submit the nomination package to the program is July 29, 2022, 8 p.m. (eastern).


Award recipients will be informed of reporting requirements upon receiving their award.

Regulations, policies and related information

Award recipients must assume responsibility for the award funds, as outlined in the Chairs Administration Guide.

All recipients must follow the regulations for administering award funds, as outlined in the Chairs Administration Guide.

All recipients will be asked to complete and sign the Consent to Disclosure of Nomination Content for Promotional Purposes form, thereby agreeing to allow SSHRC to use their name, photograph and any and all submitted materials to promote the award. By agreeing to be nominated, nominees also agree to participate in promotional award activities, including media interviews, ceremonies, receptions and other related events, should they receive the award.

Contact information

CRCP Performance, Equity and Diversity Team