Robbins-Ollivier Award for Excellence in Equity

The Robbins-Ollivier Award for Excellence in Equity recognizes the 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 within the Canada Research Chairs Program (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.

Three awards valued at $100,000 are conferred annually through a formal peer review process.

Institutions that are eligible for the CRCP are invited to nominate an eligible faculty member or a team of eligible faculty members, each year, who will lead bold and potentially game-changing initiatives that will challenge the status quo, spark change and take action to address persistent systemic barriers in the research ecosystem and academia.

The deadline to submit nominations to the 2023 award is November 7, 2023.

Winners of the inaugural 2022 award competition

The inaugural competition of the award was launched in March 2022 and nominations were due July 29, 2022. A total of 26 nominations were received and the following three nominations were awarded the inaugural Robbins-Ollivier Award for Excellence in Equity.

Inaugural awardee(s) Institution Award value Project title Project summary
Nora Casson The University of Winnipeg $100,000 Pathways to Science (P2S1) program This project proposes to develop a harmonized suite of programs on The University of Winnipeg’s campus to encourage Indigenous students to pursue careers and graduate studies in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE). The proposal was developed through dialogue with Indigenous students on campus, faculty members, and the Aboriginal Student Services Centre to identify critical barriers to Indigenous student participation and success in NSE at the university. Building from a patchwork of independent pilot programs, the proposal intends to mitigate these barriers to maximize the participation, retention, and success of Indigenous students through a variety of mechanisms such as computational resources, internet access, transportation costs, access to more mentors, a larger network for support, and continued update of the design for better program delivery.
Tina Chen University of Manitoba $100,000 Dismantling Ableism and Promoting Equity for Persons with Disabilities: Institutional Action and Accountability The proposal aims to address the following questions: 1) How are normative body ability expectations and ability privileges present in current anti‐oppression, social justice, or equity efforts at universities and in the research ecosystem? 2) What needs to happen to integrate anti‐ableism into institutional EDI efforts? and 3) What initial tools, resources, and commitments will start us on this path? The project is organised around these three interconnected pillars and supported by a public speaker series featuring leading disability studies scholars and activists, including those in the fields of Black and Indigenous disability studies. This speaker series will inform the work of this project, while furthering learning within the University of Manitoba’s community on disability and building collective knowledge and commitment to move forward with the recommended next steps. These next steps will include resolutions prepared for the university’s Senate and Board of Governors on dismantling ableism and promoting equity for persons with disabilities, alongside practice‐based recommendations. The team will develop recommendations on how – from an anti‐ableist position ‐‐ to restructure accessibility, accommodation, mental health and wellness, and other supports for people with disabilities for student, staff, faculty and the broader university community.
Godwin Arku Western University $100,000 Diversity Western: Enhancing the Black Experience This project, led by a coalition of Black researchers and administrators, with a respective experience of working within Western University for over fifteen years respectively, proposes to counter anti-Black racism by creating a research-based, resource-centric, and relationship-driven ecosystem of pro-Black knowledge and support. The objective is to re-imagine and re-design the Black experience at Western by intentionally creating and holding meaningful space for Black students and their specificities. In practice, this will entail conducting research, while also introducing the innovative creations of: (1) an Afrocentric speakers series, (2) a suite of anti-racist, decolonial and intersectionality-driven career counselling courses, featuring Black leaders and stakeholders from nationwide businesses and community organisations, and (3) a Black digital community, designed to meet the inclusion, belonging, and mentorship needs of Black students, emerging scholars, junior faculty and staff by connecting them with supportive senior faculty, staff, and alumni; such will be a virtual haven wherein the latter can offer guidance, counsel and enrich the academic and professional lives of their mentees.