Two graduate students win prestigious Vanier Canada scholarships

York grad students Dilys Haner and Danielle Kwan-Lafond have each won Canada’s most prestigious award for doctoral research, the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, with each receiving $50,000 per year for three years.

“It gives me great pleasure to congratulate York University’s Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships winners,” said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri following the announcement of the winners yesterday. “As Canada’s future leaders, these exceptional graduate students are committed to making a difference through their research and innovation. We are thrilled that they are members of the York community and extremely proud of their efforts.”

Vanier scholars are selected for their exceptional leadership skills and for realizing the highest standards of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in natural sciences, engineering, social sciences and humanities. Awarded to some of the world’s top doctoral students, 167 Vanier scholars were announced at 26 Canadian universities in this third year of the program. The scholarships went to graduate students from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. So far, the federal government has invested $75 million in the program.

Haner (BA Spec. Hons. ’08, MA ’11) is a doctoral student in the clinical developmental stream of York’s Graduate Program in Psychology, affiliated with the Faculty of Health. Through her research, she is analyzing the use of current technologies in mental health services, such as Internet and telephone-based support, for reaching Canadian youth. She is exploring the effectiveness of Kid’s Help Phone and assessing adolescents’ perceptions of coping abilities before and after service delivery to determine whether modern technologies represent an essential pathway to mental health services for Canadian youth.

“Dilys Haner is becoming a leader in her research field,” said Allan Hutchinson, dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. “She already has an impressive record of research and real-world application, and her scholarship will contribute to future policy development in the area of youth mental health.”

Kwan-Lafond is completing her doctoral studies in York’s Graduate Program in Sociology. She is examining how racialized youth from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds negotiate contradictions between messages of the official project of multiculturalism and their actual experiences of inequality.

“Through capturing the perspectives of marginalized youth groups, Danielle Kwan-Lafond will be able to make rich contributions to sociology and to public policy discourse,” said Hutchinson. “She is a highly promising scholar and researcher with a demonstrated commitment to social justice. She has demonstrated this both as a research assistant and through her founding of a not-for-profit sustainability initiative.”

Administered by Canada’s three federal granting agencies, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the program’s goal is to build world-class research capacity in Canada by recruiting and supporting top-tier doctoral students who will positively contribute to our economic, social and research-based growth for a prosperous future.

“This announcement brings the program to its full capacity of 500 scholars,” said Suzanne Fortier, president of NSERC. “The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships program enables Canada to position itself as a centre of research excellence, supporting leading Canadian doctoral candidates and attracting some of the world’s most promising researchers to our universities.”

“The value of the scholarship goes far beyond its funding,” says Alain Beaudet, president of CIHR. “For the next three years, these new scholars will join the ranks of Canada’s research community, working with our best researchers, including the Canada Excellence Research Chairs and the Canada Research Chairs, to improve quality of life for all Canadians.”

“Canadian universities and research programs benefit greatly from the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships program,” said Chad Gaffield, president of SSHRC. “Canada is positioning itself as a centre of research excellence. For these world-leading doctoral candidates, the scholarships provide the support and funds to undertake outstanding research. These Vanier scholars will become the next generation of leaders across all sectors of society.”

A complete list of the 2011 Vanier scholarship recipients is available online at