Osgoode Professor Poonam Puri honoured for outstanding legal writing

PoonamPuri FEATURED image for YFile

Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Poonam Puri has been awarded what many consider the “Pulitzer Prize” of legal writing.

Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey has named Puri the recipient of the David W. Mundell Medal in an announcement made on Oct. 8. Established in 1986 by former attorney general Ian Scott, the award recognizes a legal writer whose literary craftsmanship and clarity of expression work together to make ideas come alive. It honours the memory of David Walter Mundell, a renowned constitutional lawyer and the first director of the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Constitutional Law Branch.

Poonam Puri
Poonam Puri

Puri was chosen for the honour on the recommendation of a selection committee chaired by George Strathy, the chief justice of Ontario.

“Professor Puri’s writing has left an influential mark in the fields of financial market regulation, corporate governance and business law,” noted Strathy. “She deftly tackles these complex areas to make her legal writing widely accessible to a broad range of audiences, including legal professionals, academics and policy-makers. Professor Puri brings vision and clarity to pressing public policy discussions on issues such as corporate responsibility and diversity.”

A world-leading expert in corporate governance, corporate law and securities regulation, Puri’s groundbreaking scholarship skillfully blends theoretical, empirical and policy frameworks to distill complex ideas into clear, nuanced, practical and innovative policy solutions.

Her vision, interdisciplinary approach and broad-based community engagement lends strength to her scholarship, making her a guiding light in her fields. Her scholarship has earned her the respect of her peers. 

Despite the pandemic, 2021 has been a banner year for Puri. Less than a month ago, she was awarded the Royal Society of Canada’s Yvan Allaire Medal for excellence in contributions to the governance of public and private institutions in Canada. Earlier this year, she was awarded the Law Society Medal for public service in the highest ideals of the legal profession. Puri’s wide-reaching expertise and impact were also recognized in 2015 and again in 2017, when she was named one of the top 25 lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer magazine. A beloved professor, she is the recipient of two Osgoode teaching awards, among many other recognitions. Prior to joining Osgoode in 1997 at the age of 25, Puri practised at leading law firms in Canada and the U.S.  She is a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law and Harvard Law School.

York-led paper uncovers gap in health promotion research

research graphic

A team of researchers from York University and Ontario Tech University have published a paper in the journal Health Promotion International (HPI) that analyzes how contributors to the journal conceptualize unions, unionization and collective agreements as promoting health.

The paper, published Oct. 7, finds that the health-promoting possibilities of unionization and working under collective agreements are a neglected area among HPI contributors.

The research team – York graduate students Jessica Muller, Faisal A. Mohamed, Mary Catherine Masciangelo, Morris Komakech, Anum Rafiq and Azeezah Jafry, along with York Professor Dennis Raphael and Ontario Tech University Associate Professor Toba Bryant – explored reasons for this by drawing on an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report.

Dennis Raphael
Dennis Raphael

The report looks at the importance of collective bargaining and was used to identify areas for health promotion research and action.

Researchers considered 2,443 articles published in HPI since its inception and found that only 87 (3.6 per cent) mention unions, unionization, collective agreements or collective bargaining, with most saying little about their role in promoting health.

Further, the study shows that 20 articles make cursory references to unions, or refer to them as providing support and engagement opportunities for individuals, while 45 depict unions or union members as involved in a health promotion program or activity carried out by the authors or by government agencies.

The study shows that only 33 articles explicitly mention unions, unionization or collective agreements as potentially health promoting, which represents just 1.3 per cent of total HPI content since 1986.

With these findings, the paper suggests the journal can support the promotion of health research and action, and raise awareness, by:

  • encouraging engagement with this article through HPI-invited commentaries;
  • addressing the issue through special issues with a focus on union and labour influences on health and health-related public policy, as well as industrial relations and health; and
  • creating an ongoing section dedicated to industrial relations.

Unionization and working under collective agreements appear to provide many health benefits, said Raphael. The benefits include improving the quality and equitable distribution of the social determinants of health of income through wages and benefits (Western and Rosenfeld, 2011), enhanced job security (Hagedorn et al., 2016) and better working conditions (Zoorob, 2018).

As well, enhanced wages and benefits achieved through unionization positively affect additional social determinants of early child development, food and housing security, and reduce social exclusion.

“Considering the growing influence of the corporate sector upon public policy in Canada and the declining numbers of Canadians belong to unions, refocusing on the health-promoting effects of unionization and working under collective agreements seems especially timely,” said Raphael.

To read the full study. “A bibliometric analysis of Health Promotion International content regarding unions, unionization and collective agreements,” visit this link.

Buzz-worthy virtual conference devoted to bees

Two honey bees on lavender plants

This year’s BeeCon will explore the effects of human-driven landscape disturbance on wild bee communities, the development of diagnostic tools for neonicotinoid exposure, altruistic and selfish aggression in honey bees and more.

BeeCon is a free, annual, now virtual, bee conference running Oct. 15 and 16 that brings local, national and international bee biologists together to discuss bees, their behaviour, taxonomy, genomics, ecology, and conservation, hosted by the Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at York University.

The two-day event will feature a keynote at 11am on Oct. 15 by Associate Professor Shalene Jha of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas, Austin, discussing plant-pollinator interactions and ecosystem services in the face of global change.

Below is a selection of some of the many symposium talks, each 15 minutes in length:

Oct. 15

9:30 a.m.  Can green roofs compensate for the loss of (Hymenopteran) biodiversity in cities? – Jeffrey Jacobs of Hasselt University, Belgium

12 p.m. Assessing the impacts of urban beehives on wild bees using individual, population-level, and community level metrics – Hadil Elsayed of York University

2:45 p.m. Effects of Social Status on Aggression in a Facultatively Social Bee Species (Xylocopa virginica) – James Mesich of Brock University

3:45 p.m. Social environment and sibling cooperation in a small carpenter bee – Jesse Huisken of York University

Oct. 16

9 a.m. Holocene population expansion of a tropical bee coincides with early human colonisation of Fiji rather than climate change – James Dorey of Yale University

9:30 a.m. The risks of crop exposure to honey bee colonies – Sarah French of York University

9:45 a.m. The blueberries & the bees: assessing honey bee health stressors using proteomics – Rhonda Thygesen of the University of British Columbia

10:15 a.m. Corpse management in bumblebee colonies – Victoria Blanchard of Royal Holloway, University of London

11:15 a.m. Assessment of habitat use & ecology of native bee communities in tallgrass prairie and oak savanna in Southern Ontario – Janean Sharkey of the University of Guelph

Click here for the schedule of speakers.

To register for Oct. 15, click here and to register for Oct. 16, click here.

Call for nominations for the President’s Research Awards

research graphic

The Senate Committee on Awards invites current or emeritus tenure-stream faculty members to nominate colleagues for the President’s Research Excellence Awards.

As introduced in 2018-19, there are two disciplinary clusters for the President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award and the President’s Research Excellence Award: 1) Engineering, Science, Technology, Health and Biomedicine, and 2) Social Sciences, Art & Design, Humanities, Business, Law and Education.

The President’s Emerging Research Leadership Award (PERLA) recognizes full-time faculty members within 10 years of their first academic appointment, who have had a notable impact on their field(s) and made a significant contribution to advancing the University’s international reputation for research excellence while significantly and positively contributing to one or more aspects of the York community’s intellectual life. The PERLA will be conferred to two researchers, one from each disciplinary cluster.

The President’s Research Impact Award recognizes full-time, active faculty members whose body of research or scholarship has translated into a notable impact on communities, individuals, public policies or practice, or translated successfully into impactful commercial or other applications, while significantly and positively contributing to the University’s research culture and reputation.

The President’s Research Excellence Award (PREA) recognizes senior full-time faculty at the rank of professor, with distinguished scholarly achievements who have had a notable impact on their field(s) and made a significant contribution to advancing the University’s international reputation for research excellence while significantly and positively contributing to one or more aspects of the York community’s intellectual life. The PREA will be conferred in alternating years between the two disciplinary clusters. This year, the PREA is open to researchers in Cluster 1, Engineering, Science, Technology, Health and Biomedicine.

The criteria and nominations forms can be found on the Senate Committee on Awards webpage. The deadline for receipt of nominations is Friday, Nov. 26, by 4:30 p.m.

Focus on collaboration and mentorship at Dr. Eric Jackman Health Scholars Learning Forum

LaMarsh Centre for Child & Youth Research

Two keynote speakers will discuss the power of collaboration on Oct. 18 when the LaMarsh Centre for Child & Youth Research at York University presents the 2021 Dr. Eric Jackman Health Scholars Learning Forum.

Running from 3 to 5:30 p.m., the event aims to explore the impact of collaboration and mentorship and will also feature presentations from research teams at York University.

Keynote speakers will present on “The Power of Knowledge Translation for Community Change” and speak on their knowledge mobilization expertise and efforts. The keynote speakers are:

  • Keiko Shikako, Canada Research Chair in Childhood Disability: Participation and Knowledge Translation; co-lead, Knowledge Translation Program, CHILD-BRIGHT; and
  • Connie Putterman, family engagement in research co-ordinator at CAMH; co-lead, Knowledge and Translation Program, CHILD-BRIGHT.

The Dr. Eric Jackman Health Scholars Award is designed to support student research teams that will be funded to carry out community-engaged research alongside a LaMarsh faculty member and community partner. Teams are meant to foster a situation where both scholars receive mentorship from the faculty member, and the undergraduate scholar receives mentorship from the graduate scholar.

Teams will present an update of their project at this event, where the scholars, faculty member and community partner will speak to the impact of collaboration and mentorship.

Jackman is the founding Chair of the Psychology Foundation of Canada and heads the Jackman Foundation with an interest in child development.

To register for this virtual event, visit this page. To learn more about the research teams and their presentations, visit the event page.

Research-based exhibit on vaccination features panel discussions with York experts

A photo with a black backgroud that features two vials of COVID-19 vaccine and a syringe

York University faculty members and graduate students will participate in an exciting series of panel discussions running this fall as part of <Immune Nations>, an evidence-based exhibition about the constructive role that art can play in public discourse around life-saving vaccines.

<Immune Nations> is the first multi-year research-based exhibition to specifically address the issue of vaccination from a collaborative, interdisciplinary perspective, attentive to the arts and its many roles for advocacy and political intervention. The outcome of a multi-year project that was developed prior to the pandemic (2014-17) and co-led by Natalie Loveless (University of Alberta) with Steven Hoffman (York University) and Sean Caulfield (University of Alberta), the exhibition explores complex issues related to the use and distribution of vaccines in the world today and the capacity of artistic research to solicit complex forms of affective engagement when dealing with difficult and divisive social and political topics such as vaccination.

Steven Hoffman
Steven Hoffman

Hosted at the McMaster Museum of Art, the exhibition presents features collaborative art and research projects, including original work alongside new work produced in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel discussions feature York’s ​Steven Hoffman, Dahdaleh Distinguished Chair in Global Governance and Legal Epidemiology, professor and director of the Global Strategy Lab; Alison Humphrey, Vanier Scholar and PhD candidate; and Caitlin Fisher, professor and director of the Immersive Storytelling Lab.

The discussions will be hosted on Zoom, and include an audience Q-and-A. All panels are free and open to the public.

Ensuring Equitable Access: Life-Saving Vaccines during COVID-19 and Beyond

Thursday, Oct. 14, 12 to 1:30 p.m.

This panel will explore the global deployment and lack of access to life-saving vaccines.

Moderator: ​Steven Hoffman, director, Global Strategy Lab

Annemarie Hou, appointed executive director, United Nations Office for Partnerships;
Alison Humphrey, Vanier Scholar and PhD candidate, York University;
Lauren Paremoer, senior lecturer, University of Cape Town; and
John-Arne Røttingen, ambassador for global health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway.

To learn more about the panellists and to register, click here.

Research-Creation and Global Crisis: Interdisciplinarity, Creativity and Collaboration

Thursday, Nov. 25, 12 to 1:30 p.m.

This panel investigates the role of research-creation in tackling pressing social and global problems.

Moderator: Natalie Loveless, associate professor of contemporary art and theory, University of Alberta

Ted Hewitt, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada;
Charu Kaushic, scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Infection and Immunity, and professor in the Department of Medicine, McMaster University;
Caitlin Fisher, director of the Immersive Storytelling Lab and Professor of Cinema and Media Arts, York University;
Patrick Mahon, artist, curator and visual arts professor, Western University; and
​Kim TallBear, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Peoples, Technoscience and Environment, and professor of Native Studies, University of Alberta.

To learn more about the panellists and to register, click here.

Vaccine Confidence, Fear and Misinformation in an Age of COVID

Thursday, Dec. 9, 12 to 1:30 p.m.

A panel exploring the impact of misinformation on vaccination as well as ways of countering the negative impacts of misinformation in relation to public health.

Moderator: Sean Caulfield, Professor, University of Alberta

Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, University of Alberta;
Rachelle Viader Knowles, head of international for arts and humanities, Manchester Metropolitan University;
Dr. David Price, professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University; and
Theresa Tam, chief public health officer of Canada.

To learn more about the panellists and to register, click here.

Heat motion ‘sloshes’ Pacific Ocean and shifts weather forecasts

a dry arid landscape due to global warming

A study out of the Lassonde School of Engineering discovers new ways the Pacific Ocean is circulating, which may hold the key to better predicting the impact of El Niño and La Niña.

For years, scientists have been trying to understand variations in El Niño and La Niña to accurately predict year-to-year disruptions to weather patterns. New findings from York University scientists at the Lassonde School of Engineering suggest that a conveyer-like motion of heat across the equator in the Pacific Ocean – called the “cross-equatorial cell” (CEC) – may influence what a specific El Niño or La Niña looks like.

“What this CEC is doing, essentially, is sloshing water and heat back and forth between just north of the equator and just south of the equator,” said Neil Tandon, assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science at the Lassonde School of Engineering and co-author of the study. “In this study, we looked at what is physically causing this motion in the ocean. Understanding this is crucial, because a small change in the location of ocean heat in turn shifts the locations of the atmospheric jet streams, which sets off a chain reaction, disturbing weather around the globe.”

El Niño and La Niña are both known to have global impacts on weather, from severe flooding to droughts and wildfires – impacting economies in every country. El Niño is a warming of the ocean in the tropical Pacific over a year, while La Niña is a cooling in this region. But not all El Niños and La Niñas are the same: some are stronger than others, and they can arise in different locations in the Pacific Ocean. 

Tandon says the movement of heat by the CEC may help explain this range of behaviour and improve our ability to predict year-to-year changes in weather patterns. Such improvements would benefit countries around the globe across a broad range of sectors, including agriculture, transportation, emergency response services, hydroelectric utilities and the insurance industry.

“When scientists see that there’s going to be a strong El Niño or a strong La Niña, everybody pays attention because no country is unaffected by that,” said Tandon. “If we can make any incremental step in improving our prediction of the impact of El Niño or La Niña, that has benefits for everybody in terms of being able to prepare for consequences such as severe flooding or droughts.”

Tandon and lead author Devanarayana Rao, a master’s student in Tandon’s lab, examined the CEC using multiple data sets. In the study, the team analyzed relationships between physical quantities to illustrate what this circulation looks like and why this circulation exists. Their analysis found that the CEC arises from the following sequence of events:

  • year-to-year changes in winds generate changes in the density of ocean water north and south of the equator in the Pacific;
  • these density changes generate changes in pressure north and south of the equator;
  • these pressure changes in turn generate a flow of water across the equator in the upper ocean; and
  • this flow in the upper ocean generates waves that extend to the deep ocean, where they drive flow in the opposite direction across the equator.

“This research is a part of ongoing efforts to improve our understanding of the climate system and to develop real-world solutions to the ongoing climate crisis,” said Rao. “In general, most [previous] studies focused on deep ocean circulation in the Atlantic Ocean, which is projected to have a ‘slowing down’ in the next 100 years. But, here, in the Pacific, the year-to-year variability of the deep ocean is much stronger than in the Atlantic, which can potentially influence the global weather patterns, the deep oceanic carbon reserve and marine habitat.”

“I think an important next step in this research would be to start looking at the models that we use to predict El Niño and La Niña, and specifically focus on what are those models doing as far as the CEC,” said Tandon. “If they’re doing something very different from what is actually observed, then what are the consequences? If we correct what the model is doing, does that lead to a better prediction?”

The study is published in the American Geophysical Union’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.

Applications are open for the new Innovation York Commercialization Fellowship

York University's Accolade Galleria, Keele Campus

York University postgraduate students and postdoctoral Fellows have until Oct. 29 to apply for the new Innovation York Commercialization Fellowship, funded by Innovation York in the Office of the Vice-President Research and Innovation. The fellowships are intended to support the research commercialization process by providing strategic, short-term funding to assist in the development of commercially viable projects.

The Innovation York Commercialization Fellowships, which will support projects with commercial potential from across the University, are offered on a short-term, part-time basis and are intended to run alongside existing research work without detracting from it. Recipients will be given $7,500 per fellowship. While matching funds are not mandatory, applications that include matching funds will be looked upon favourably.

As part of the fellowship, the Fellows will receive education on intellectual property and commercialization, exposure to industry/community partners relevant to their field of study and an experiential learning opportunity. Fellows will be supported by a series of educational activities, including workshops and seminars, and expected to complete tasks to enhance their commercial awareness.

The fellowships can be used to support proof of concept, prototype testing and validation studies, to fund a stipend for the Fellow and to pay for materials required for the project.

Each Fellow will be assigned an Innovation York commercialization manager to work with and ensure that the project plan described in the application is carried out. Fellows will meet monthly with their allocated manager to monitor progress. In addition, Fellows will be required to generate two reports and give one final presentation.

Important dates:

  • Oct. 1 – applications open
  • Oct. 29 – applications close
  • Nov. 26 – awards confirmed and funds allocated
  • Jan. 29, 2022 – IN-PART report due
  • March 31, 2022 – projects completed
  • April 30, 2022 – final report and presentation

*Dates are tentative and subject to change.

How to apply:

  1. Visit innovationyork.ca/commercialization-fellowship and download the application form by clicking “apply now” at the bottom of the web page.
  2. Fill out the application form.
  3. Send the completed application form to innovationyork@yorku.ca by Oct. 29 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

For more information about the Innovation York Commercialization Fellowships, visit innovationyork.ca/commercialization-fellowship.

Research associate earns appointment in Japan as visiting research scholar

A street in Japan

A research associate with York University’s Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) is one of 15 scholars globally to be appointed as a visiting research scholar at the International Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) this year.

Yukari Takai

Yukari Takai, who has taught in the Department of History and the School of Women, Gender and Sexuality at both the Glendon and Keele campuses, arrived in Japan earlier this year. Her position there extends until March 2022.

“I am thrilled by the gift of time to research and to write on my project,” said Takai.

During her appointment at Nichibunken, she aims to complete a manuscript on the marriage, migration and modernity of Japanese women and men in Japan, Hawaii and the North American West from the 1880s to the 1930s. She is also engaged in a new project exploring the gendered social world of Japanese colonos, independent farmers, husbands, wives and adopted children in coffee plantations in Brazil in the early 20th century. In doing so, she seeks to bring into dialogue the transnational history of Japanese abroad and the history of marriage, divorce and gender relations in Japan in the emerging field of global Japanese studies.

“Dr. Takai’s research on the family histories of Japanese migration is a logical and innovative extension of her well-recognized expertise on French-Canadian migrants to the United States in the early 20th century,” said Colin Coates, Glendon’s associate principal of research and graduate studies.

Takai’s earlier research on Japanese in Hawaii produced an award-winning article on Japanese during the Meiji period in Gender & History. While in Japan, she is continuing her research on how marriage, divorce and gender practices among Japanese in Hawaii, Brazil and Japan reveal a great deal about the agency of ordinary women and men, the plural meanings of what was then considered modern, and the extent of civil and state control, all which go beyond simple narratives about Japanese in Hawaii and Brazil.

“I explore these themes through a critical examination of the ideology of ‘good wife, wise mother’ and a close analysis of previously under-examined practices, such as the taking of a temporary spouse, the selling of wives, the brokering of marriage, and the obtaining of divorce among Japanese in the Pacific world and beyond during the period of early Japanese community formation,” said Takai.

Nichibunken is an international research centre of excellence in Japanese studies, where scholars in the field of Japanese studies in Japan and from around the world meet, discuss and engage in productive and exciting exchanges. Its mission is to promote international and interdisciplinary research on Japanese culture and to foster co-operation among researchers in Japanese studies worldwide. 

“Having Dr. Takai with us at Nichibunken enriches our research activities in new, valuable ways,” said Yasui Manami, a professor in the Research Division and executive officer and senior research co-ordinator of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies. “I look forward to learning about the state of the field of Japanese migration in three languages that Takai masters – Japanese, English and French – and the insights from her own research that she shares through lectures and publications with researchers here and elsewhere, and with the broader educated public.”

Araki Hiroshi, a professor at the International Research Center and the Chair of the Committee for the Inter-university Consortium for Global Japanese Studies, said, “Dr. Takai contributes to our initiative to build an emerging field of global Japanese studies.”

Takai said the benefits of being in Kyoto to conduct her research at Nichibunken are immense.

“Being here affords me precious time and resources to research and to write,” she said. “Nichibunken has impressive collections of primary and secondary sources on the subject of my research. Its location means a close proximity to southwestern Japan, from where a large number of Japanese left for Hawaii and Brazil.”

Travel to local and national archives has been limited under COVID-19 restrictions, but Takai looks forward to greater access to numerous archives in the near future.

“Nichibunken is an intellectually thriving international research centre located at the edge of the city of Kyoto,” she said. “Birds, bamboo forests and mountains greet you only a step outside the door. Being here is offering me moments of serendipity, which is something that I missed the most in the past year.”

Robarts Centre announces Barbara Godard and Odessa award recipients

Image announcing Awards
Awards card

Two York University students have earned academic awards for their work advancing Canadian studies. The prizes, awarded by York’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, recognize one graduate and one undergraduate student every year.

The Barbara Godard Prize for the Best York University Dissertation in Canadian Studies recipient is Andrew Zealley, Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change (EUC), for “Risky Beeswax: Artistic Responses to the Biopolitics of HIV/AIDS.” The recipient of the Odessa Prize for the best undergraduate paper in a fourth-year course is Emily Belmonte for “Understanding Treaty One: Subsistence and Survival 1871-1888.”

The Barbara Godard Prize

Andrew Zealley (photo by Walter Segers)
Andrew Zealley (photo by Walter Segers)

Zealley’s work maps the artistic response to the complex and contradictory experience of living with HIV-AIDS within the Toronto gay community. He uses audio, video and writing to argue for experiential and situated knowledges as forms of HIV management and prevention.

“I want people to understand that pleasure is possible; pleasure is within grasp if we can learn to let go of – or refuse – institutionalized mandates around sex and intimate relationships,” he says. “I want people to find ways to talk about their personal health goals during sexual moments, to integrate sexual health talk into sexual play. I hope that people will better understand, through my work, the insidious role that gentrification plays in our pleasure lives. Homogeneity poisons imaginations and desires.”

The prize adjudication committee praised his research for exposing the underlying tensions between art and scholarly practice as processes for understanding this experience, by sourcing material often inaccessible or undervalued by institutional research. Overall, the committee noted the thesis provides a timely reminder of the numerous social discourses that continue to pathologize HIV-AIDS.

Zealley is currently working on multiple projects, both in an artistic and academic capacity. He is part of the Wetrospective exhibition at the AGO this month and has a new vinyl LP record, The Magic of the Think Machine Gods, releasing in October. He is also working on research projects with EUC graduate Peter Hobbs and Nick Mulé, a professor in York’s School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS); and participating as a video maker in “Viral Interventions,” a project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and overseen by EUC Professor Sarah Flicker and Associate Professor John Greyson of York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD).

The Odessa Prize

Emily Belmonte
Emily Belmonte

Belmonte’s essay was completed under the supervision of Professor Sean Kheraj (Department of History, LA&PS) as part of the fourth-year Honours Thesis Seminar (HIST 4000). Her honours thesis focused on interpreting Treaty One (with the Chippewa and Cree Indians of Manitoba) and examining the events leading up to the signing, as well as the immediate aftermath in the 1870s.

“Canadians should not only be interested, but they should feel a sense of urgency to learn about the history of the land they are privileged to live on and how its first people were treated so shamefully at the hands of the government,” says Belmonte. “Canadians need to understand the treaty-making period, how we are all treaty people, and how there were very specific promises and rights granted to Indigenous people during the treaty process that were never upheld in a very deliberate process in order to secure land acquisition and pave the way for agrarian settlement.”

The prize committee recognized her work as a thoughtful and well-considered synthesis of scholarship on the history of Canada’s colonial expansion into the northwest. The committee noted the thesis is exceptionally well-organized and well-written, and demonstrates great care and sophistication in sorting out the layers of events and meanings surrounding this critical moment in Canadian history.

Belmonte is entering her final year at York and aims to graduate in June 2022 with a degree in both history and education. She plans to become a teacher with her certification to teach at the primary and junior levels, “but one day I may also consider teaching history at the senior and intermediate levels as well,” she says.

The work of both prize recipients was nominated by the Robarts Centre for the Canadian Studies Network – Réseau d’études canadiennes prizes for the Best PhD Dissertation and Best Undergraduate Essay Prize in Canadian Studies. Belmonte’s essay earned the Best Canadian Studies Undergraduate Essay/Thesis Prize and was noted for being well-written and carefully documented, and was highlighted as an example of undergraduate scholarship of very high quality, according to the Canadian Studies Network in their congratulatory email.

Zealley and Belmonte were both interviewed about their work by the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies. Read those reflections here.

About the prizes

The Barbara Godard Prize for the Best York University Dissertation in Canadian Studies, which has been awarded annually since 2012, is named in memory of Professor Barbara Godard, former Avie Bennett Historica Chair of Canadian Literature and former professor of English, French, social and political thought, and women’s studies at York University. The Odessa Prize for the Study of Canada, first awarded in 2011, was established through the generosity of York alumnus Irvin Studin (BBA Schulich, PhD Osgoode Hall Law School), who dedicated the award to his parents who hailed from the famous port city of Odessa, Ukraine. Learn more about these prizes at robarts.info.yorku.ca/awards.