On April 6, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation announced its newest Scholars--16 dynamic and diverse doctoral students hailing from a broad array of academic backgrounds from communities across Canada and around the world. Among them was Jennifer Lavalley, a PhD student in Interdisciplinary Studies at UBC, exploring the experiences of Indigenous people who use drugs in order to optimize and ensure the cultural relevance of overdose-focused harm reduction and substance use treatment.
"For me, engaged leadership means bringing different perspectives and experiences together to create unity and solidarity across communities, foster opportunities to amplify and prioritize marginalized voices, and understanding the ways in which Indigenous knowledge can broaden modern concepts of leadership in order to provide leadership through traditional teachings, histories, and experiences," said Jennifer, who is Cree-Saulteaux Métis born and raised in Treaty 4 territory – Regina, SK, with ancestral roots from Muscowpetung First Nation in southern SK and the Red River Settlements in Manitoba. In addition to being a doctoral student, she is also a Project Coordinator at the BC Centre on Substance Use providing research support to the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society (WAHRS).
Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation scholars are highly gifted individuals who are actively engaged in their fields and expected to become leading national and international figures. Beyond their remarkable accomplishments, this year's Scholars were selected for demonstrating strong engagement in the values of the Foundation, committing to improving their skills in both official languages as well as familiarizing with Indigenous languages, and to actively volunteering in their communities. Selected from among hundreds of candidates nominated by universities across Canada and abroad, the 2020 Scholars’ research in the Social Sciences and Humanities reflects the four fundamental guiding themes of the Foundation: Human Rights and Dignity; Responsible Citizenship; People and their Natural Environment; and, Canada and the World. Their academic disciplines span a wide range including environmental sciences, public health, communications, history, education, political science, and law.