Two profs earn awards for postdoctoral mentorship excellence

Audience clapping

York University’s Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) honoured two exceptional professors, Alison Crosby and Amro Zayed, with the Postdoctoral Supervisor Award during an FGS council meeting on Dec. 7. The award is presented annually to a faculty member in any department and program at York who demonstrates exemplary support for postdoctoral scholars.

This award serves to applaud Crosby and Zayed for exceeding general supervisory expectations to their postdoctoral Fellows while acknowledging the important work performed by both the professors and Fellows. Alice MacLachlan, vice-provost and dean of graduate studies, said the two recipients embody the award’s spirit of mentorship creativity, excellence and dedication. “You serve as a role model for all of us to follow,” she added.

“This is the kind of work that places York in the top 40 globally in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, through our work as a progressive, research-intensive institution,” said Lisa Philipps, provost and vice-president academic.

Alison Crosby

Alison Crosby
Alison Crosby

Crosby is an associate professor and interim Chair of the School of Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies. Her research projects and publications use an anti-racist, anti-colonial and transnational feminist lens and participatory methodologies to support protagonists’ multifaceted struggles to redress and memorialize harm in the aftermath of political violence, with a particular focus on Guatemala, where she has worked for over 30 years.

Crosby is currently working on the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council-funded project “Remembering and Memorializing Violence: Transnational Feminist Dialogues,” which brings together feminist scholars, artists, activists and community practitioners from a wide range of contexts and disciplinary perspectives to explore the transnational dimensions of how we collectively remember and memorialize colonial, militarized and state violence. The project also provided Crosby’s postdoctoral Fellow, Ruth Murambadoro, with a space to house her research and become part of this digital community.

“Professor Crosby embodies Ubuntu principles of communitarianism, humility, mutual respect, hospitality and so much more, which have enabled me to integrate and chart a new pathway for my career in Canada,” noted Murambadoro in her nomination letter. “She remains a key player in my life and role model, who taught me fundamental lessons on collegiality, humanness and effective mentorship. I value the contributions that Prof. Crosby has made in my research, scholarly and personal development over the time we have worked together.”

In response to the award win, Crosby said, “It’s my pleasure, privilege and honour to work with postdoc Fellows.” Of her nominator, she said, “I look forward to my collaborations with her for many years to come.”

Amro Zayed

Amro Zayed
Amro Zayed

Zayed, a professor in the Department of Biology and York Research Chair in Genomics, is currently the inaugural director of York’s Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution & Conservation, leading a research program on the genetics, genomics and behaviour of social insects, using the honey bee as a model organism. 

Zayed’s lab provides opportunities to conduct research and network with academics and industry partners worldwide. Since 2009, Zayed has supervised eight postdoctoral Fellows who have collectively produced a total of 28 peer-reviewed publications and 71 conference presentations. He aims to equip postdoctoral Fellows with the skills necessary to successfully navigate the increasingly competitive job market.

“His approach to leadership has inspired us to seek creative solutions in research and to collaborate with diverse groups of stakeholders,” stated Sydney Wizenberg and Sarah French in their letter of nomination. “To this end, Amro exemplifies all of the characteristics one would expect of an intellectual leader and role model. He provides a unilateral environment of support to his research group. He is personally invested in our success and well-being, going above and beyond to help with professional skill development. He is actively involved in our career development, prioritizing our long-term success over our short-term role in his group.”

Zayed was caught off-guard by the award. “I was really surprised by this,” he admitted. “When I started my career, I never appreciated the joy of having postdocs.”

The Postdoctoral Supervisor of the Year Award accepts nominations annually by no later than June 1 of each year. Nomination letters should provide evidence that the nominee meets the following criteria: is a role model for intellectual leadership and professionalism in research; fosters an environment of support for professional skill development; promotes a climate of respect and collegiality; and offers advocacy and guidance in long-term personal and professional developments.

For more information, visit

Community-driven exploration of girls’ mental health leads to new support

A graphic of a women with a cloudy head

Partnering with community organizations is essential for equity-informed population health researchers, and York University Faculty of Health professors Cheryl van Daalen-Smith and Marina Morrow have embarked on a community-driven inquiry exploring girls’ and young women’s mental health, leading to new local supports.

The project, titled “Pressure, Judgement, Fear & Girlhood: A Girl-Centred Understanding of the Social Determinants of Girls’ Mental Health and What We Can Do About It,” investigates the issues – as seen by diverse girls and young women – that enhance or erode mental health.

Partnering with Girls Incorporated of York Region and the Canadian Mental Health Association of York Region, the researchers and York Research Assistant Ariella Markus (master of arts, interdisciplinary studies) pursued a girl-centred exploration of girls’ own views regarding the issues they face.

In September, a community knowledge mobilization launch was held in Newmarket, Ont., where an open-access research monograph was shared and discussed with representatives from community organizations, policy developers, girl-serving organizations and government. As a result, a new and community-driven girls’ mental health network initiative, led by community partners, is in the early stages of development in York Region.

The community-based study strove to: explore girls’ and young women’s views regarding the current state of girls’ mental health; understand the issues impacting mental health; understand what they deem as helpful models of mental health support; and hear and document their views about what needs to change.

“The research team heard that girls’ lives are full of worry, with girls routinely hearing negative comments, and that the pervasiveness of judgement and pressure leaves girls simultaneously feeling too much and not enough,” says van Daalen-Smith.

While the participants varied in age, experience, cultural background and other aspects, the top three pressing issues identified in the project are: anxiety and depression related to judgement from others/society; social expectations and the constant comparison to others; and learned hatred of their own bodies and wishing they were (like) someone else.

“All of this pressure, judgment and fear gave way to clouded thinking, with the young women clearly telling us that their anxiety ‘was a symptom of gender-based devaluation and social pressure’ and not so-called ‘poor coping skills,’” says Morrow.

The inquiry, say researchers, confirmed the continuing trend that how girls are viewed, referred to and treated determines their mental health and well-being. It was also determined that the erosion of mental health is linked to a breach of their rights – something Girls Incorporated has been working to address over the past three decades.

The team also consulted with girl-serving professionals, including social workers, peer support workers/specialists, gender-affirming care workers, youth mental health workers, nurse practitioners and more. From listening to girls, young women and girl-serving professionals, the researchers put forth recommendations to consider when seeking to support girls’ and young women’s mental health.

Some of these recommendations are:

  • Believe, affirm and validate girls’ appraisals of their lives and experiences. They want to be believed.
  • Girls are afraid that others will find out they went to talk with someone. Help them find you in ways that feel safe.
  • Don’t focus on the symptom nor infuse girls with psychiatric labels through which to view themselves – language matters.
  • Girls want comfortable, girl-friendly spaces to be heard, affirmed, valued and believed – not fixed.
  • Empower girls to actively remove self-deprecating notions of themselves and other girls through individual and group activities that protect girls’ social vulnerabilities.
  • Remind girls about their right to authenticity, safety, bold expression, achievement, body appreciation, confidence and future self-reliance. Help them achieve these rights. Speak out when girls’ rights are breached.

The full list of recommendations can be found in the report.

Schulich ExecEd launches municipal leadership training program

Business team training session

York University’s Schulich ExecEd has partnered with the Ontario Municipal Administrators Association (OMAA) to launch the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Leadership Program.

The dynamic, five-day program will help government administrators gain the vital leadership skills and strategies needed to better support elected officials and effectively implement council policies.

“We are excited to announce our partnership with the Ontario Municipal Administrators Association in launching the prestigious Chief Administrative Officer Leadership Program,” said Rami Mayer, executive director of Schulich ExecEd. “Upskilling and reskilling municipalities are crucial endeavours that hold significant importance in adapting to the evolving challenges and opportunities faced by local governments. This partnership recognizes this need, equipping participants with essential business skills and acumen, as well as providing a clear pathway for leadership success in municipal governance.”

The program will cover trending topics in the industry such as political acuity, digital transformation and data analysis. Upon completion, participants will be ready to thrive in their CAO roles or move up the career ladder to more senior positions. The program’s hybrid format allows easy access to programming and materials for busy professionals.

“The CAO position is a uniquely challenging one that has lacked a clear educational pathway for those considering entering,” said Scott Vokey, OMAA executive director. “OMAA is very pleased to collaborate with Schulich to help start construction on this pathway.”

OMAA represents CAOs and aspiring CAOs in municipalities of all tiers and sizes across Ontario. It fosters excellence in CAO leadership, know-how and professional management of municipalities. Paired with Schulich ExecEd’s expertise in professional development and experience in upskilling and reskilling public sector organizations, the partnership marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of leadership excellence.

“Through our partnership with Schulich ExecEd, we are offering unique and true value as well as deep insight into what is required to be an effective chief administrative officer,” said Peter Neufeld, OMAA president and CAO of the Municipality of Leamington. “OMAA is excited to help develop the first certificate program to specifically focus on the unique needs of the CAO position.”

The CAO Leadership Program is kicking off on April 4, 2024, and registration is open now. Visit the web page to enrol or to learn more: Education and Training – Ontario Municipal Administrators Association (

Osgoode dean to speak at international access-to-justice conference

The statue of justice

In the midst of a global access-to-justice crisis, Osgoode Hall Law School Dean Trevor Farrow will join other international research leaders in the field at a conference on Dec. 6 to discuss the creation of a global research action plan aimed at making legal services more available to those least able to afford their spiralling costs.

Trevor Farrow
Trevor Farrow

The conference, titled “Building Evidence for People-Centred Access to Justice: Envisioning a Shared Research Agenda,” will take place in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. It is sponsored by the Justice Data Observatory, a partnership involving the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, the American Bar Foundation and the International Development Research Centre.

“I am excited and honoured to be collaborating with some of the world’s leading access-to-justice research experts and policymakers,” said Farrow. “We will explore challenging aspects of the growing global access-to-justice crisis, as well as potential data-based solutions.

“While it’s a busy time of term and there’s a lot going on,” he added, “this will also be a very important opportunity for me, as dean, to champion and promote some of the great work that we’re doing here at Osgoode, as well as the major efforts that York University is making to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Access to justice for all is part of SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Participants at the event will explore opportunities for researchers, civil society actors, government representatives and policymakers around the world to identify and address gaps in justice data and evidence with the aim of collectively advancing a shared access-to-justice research agenda through the Justice Data Observatory.

The conference’s centrepiece panel discussion will follow a global report on access-to-justice research and data and will focus on the topic of “advancing people-centred access to justice through evidence-based policymaking.”

Alongside Farrow, guests on the panel will include: Daniela Barba, director of access-to-justice for the Washington, D.C.-based World Justice Project; Daniel Ricardo Cortes, director of the Justice, Security and Defense Directorate in Colombia; Maaike de Langen, a senior Fellow at New York University; and Qudsiya Naqui, senior counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice.

Beyond his role as dean of Osgoode, Farrow is also Chair of the Osgoode-based Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, a research and policy expert for the OECD’s access to justice advisory committee, and a steering committee member for Canada’s Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, which was founded by former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin.

It is expected that, with the OECD, World Bank and other partners, further access-to-justice research and reporting will follow from these discussions and initiatives.

SDGs in Action: from desk research to global citizenship curriculum

tablet united nations sustainability goals unsdgs

By Elaine Smith

Although they have now graduated, a team of students who took part in York University’s Go Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Action Student Challenge hope to continue pursuing opportunities to incorporate their community-oriented projects into university extracurriculars.

With funding from the Government of Canada’s outbound student mobility pilot program Global Skills Opportunity, the Student Challenge aims to empower York students and their peers around the world to take action toward achieving the United Nations SDGs with a global lens under the supervision of York International.

Under the auspices of the challenge, two York students, Christiane Marie Canillo, who earned her bachelor of arts (BA) in psychology, and Ravichandiranesan Ponnudurai, a bachelor of environmental studies graduate, along with two students from the University of the Philippines Diliman – Renchillina Supan, a BA sociology graduate, and Mila Monica Maralit, a master of arts in tourism student – connected to work toward ensuring SDG 4: Quality Education. Now known as the iGoCitizen team, they welcomed a new member in November 2022: Anjali Kumar, a BA in law and society graduate from York University, who also shares motivation to transform conversation into active global citizenship.

In the winter of 2022, the team earned the SDGs in Action Creative Solutions Award for exhibiting a high degree of interdisciplinary thinking to mobilize and engage communities to act on the SDGs. And that was only the beginning.

The iGoCitizen team determined that global citizenship education (GCED) is integral to achieving the SDGs because it teaches action skills for quality education. Their pilot project, based on a discourse analysis, targeted the need to integrate GCED into school curricula as extracurricular activities. This helped them build this program, which organizes and equips teams with global citizenship learnings, design thinking and project management skills that allow them to create socially grounded and concept-based social action plans (SAPs) in their own communities.

“We need a relevant and transformative education that will enable learners to think critically and act toward a more ‘just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive’ society,” they wrote in their plan.

Starting with Sri Lanka, the team prepared a country-specific curriculum to teach students about social cohesion, peace-building and active citizenship, and challenged them to create SAPs for their own communities.

Creating the curriculum required extensive research, consultations and discussions, and it would have been easy for the iGoCitizen team to hand in their deliverables and walk away at the end of the semester. Instead, they created an opportunity to deliver the curriculum the following fall, piloting it as a five-day hybrid workshop in partnership with VISIONS Global Empowerment Sri Lanka and the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka.

Ponnudurai was on hand to deliver content live, while the other team members taught and facilitated the online portions of the workshop. The enthusiasm that greeted the workshop made them eager to keep the project alive.

“The participants wanted to model GCED and do projects in real time in Jaffna,” said Ponnudurai. “We all saw their passion. After three decades of the civil war in Sri Lanka, the younger generation wants to make changes to help rebuild their communities. This is so important in order to achieve the SDGs.”

Supan said, “It was great to see our ideas become reality. We met virtually to create this project, and I never thought that our concept notes would lead to social action plans and actual impact on student engagement activities.”

The iGoCitizen team is working on the possible second implementation in Sri Lanka and project contextualization in the Philippines. Anticipated efforts also include iterations to other countries not initially included in their discourse analysis, since there have been inquiries from countries such as Mexico. The team is also finalizing a memorandum of understanding discussion with their non-governmental organization partner, VISIONS Global Empowerment Sri Lanka.

It is challenging, because the team has limited funding and human resources, and members are also managing personal commitments such as work and studies. Nonetheless, all members remain passionate and committed. They hope that another team of students who join the Go Global SDGs in Action Student Challenge will be interested in pursuing the iGoCitizen initiative elsewhere in the world.

“York University’s SDGs in Action project team is in awe of team iGoCitizen. They are a model for anyone who aspires to create change and positive impact in their community(ies),” said Helen Balderama, director of global engagement and partnerships for York International. “With passion, determination and collaborations, the possibilities are endless.”

The 2023-24 SDGs in Action Knowledge Fair (third edition) is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 6 from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Those interested can register to join the conversation and learn about the student groups’ transformative SDGs projects.

For more information about iGoCitizen, contact the team at or

C4 partnership to tackle climate anxiety

image shows a forest and stream

By Alexander Huls, deputy editor, YFile

York University’s C4: Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom program has partnered with GHD – an award-winning international company that offers engineering, architecture and construction services – and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to help students tackle climate anxiety.

Over the course of the upcoming 12-week winter term, up to 70 undergraduates will work with the partners to pursue multidisciplinary projects exploring the term’s challenge question: “How can we help young people in the Greater Toronto Area overcome climate anxiety, to be empowered to inform and drive our future pathways to an equitable and sustainable city?”

As the students develop their collaborative projects, GHD and TRCA will provide 10 to 20 hours of guidance throughout the term, including bringing in subject matter experts to participate, encourage and answer any technical questions that might arise.

Danielle Robinson
Danielle Robinson

GHD became interested in partnering with C4 while working on an environmental project with York, eager to find an opportunity to collaborate further with the University. “We were instantly interested in the C4 Cross-Campus Capstone Classroom and how it engages multidisciplinary teams to solve some of the world’s biggest problems,” says Tina Marano, GHD’s future communities leader, Canada, who will be involved with the program and students throughout the C4 winter term.

Early meetings with C4 made clear that a partnership would be a natural fit. “With GHD there was a clear alignment around our interests and values,” says Danielle Robinson, associate professor and co-founder of C4.

Like C4, GHD prioritizes sustainability in its work – with a focus on water, energy, infrastructure, and sustainable cities and communities – and seeks to drive positive change and make meaningful contributions to global sustainability goals.

Tina Marano
Tina Marano

GHD also shares an optimism that’s rooted in the capstone program and experience. “We’re a very positive, hopeful space. We think that we and our students can make a difference in the world and that we just need to figure out how to organize ourselves in order to do that,” says Robinson. “We need a partner that believes in those things.”

GHD does, says Marano. “Working with young professionals and new graduates across our organization and through partnerships like this, we nurture a culture that embraces optimism, collaboration, experimentation and curiosity,” she says.

The partnership with the TRCA acting as the community stakeholder followed soon after, and the organization echoes the shared goals of its partners. “We’re a community-based organization, so we want to look to our communities to help us find the solutions to the problems that we all face together,” says Darryl Gray, director, education and training at TRCA.

In the weeks ahead, the aim – as it is for all C4 partnerships – for the program is to benefit both partners and students.

Franz Newland
Franz Newland

For partners, the participating students provide fresh insights and point-of-views that are needed to right the future. “What we have found is getting the student and multidisciplinary perspective can often bring new ideas and approaches to the partners that they might not have considered before,” adds Franz Newland, professor and co-founder of C4 with Robinson.

“We need to work and think differently. We need to collaborate and exchange ideas with bright, young minds and emerging leaders that believe that change and impact is possible,” agrees Marano.

Partners working with undergraduate students also provides an opportunity through experiential learning to develop skills needed for them to, potentially, pursue a sustainability career. “Among the broader conversation we are having with York is, ‘How do we make sure that post-secondary institutions are meeting the workforce development needs of future employers?’ ” says Gray.

Opportunities like these can help provide that, closing a potential onboarding gap with developing skills students will need if they enter the sustainability field – whether with C4 partners or other organizations.

In addition to benefiting with real-world experience and connections to leading organizations, students also gain critical confidence in their abilities and potential to create change. “One of the things that we hope we uniquely offer our students is a chance to really find out who they are as leaders,” says Robinson.

“Organizations like GHD and TRCA help empower their voices so that they can feel there are people who are keen to listen,” says Newland.

That, he says, is a crucial element for this generation of students who can often feel anxious about the climate crisis without knowing what they can do about it, and if their point-of-view will even be heard.

“Often in these spaces there’s a sense of impotence or inability to actually take action, which is part of that challenge,” says Newland. “The fact that organizations like this are looking to engage students’ voices really points to the fact that they recognize that the existing solutions maybe aren’t doing what we need, and we need to be thinking about listening to other voices that may actually have a better path forward.”

The C4 program and its partners help them do that. “They get a chance to find out what skills and knowledge they have and what they can do with them to address a particular challenge the world is facing. It gives them a chance to see what they’re capable of in a really safe space where they can test their boundaries, fail, succeed,” says Robinson. “They want to feel empowered, to help repair the world. They need to see what their contribution might be.”

Applications for C4 are still open:

Join discussions on qualitative accounting at upcoming symposium

man using calculator finanace math

York University’s School of Administrative Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, will co-host the eighth annual Qualitative Accounting Research Symposium with the University of Guelph’s Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics from Nov. 23 to 24 at the Second Student Centre on York’s Keele Campus. The hybrid event will allow for both in-person and virtual participation.

The symposium will showcase a niche area of research in the accounting field. Qualitative accounting scholars comprise a dynamic and growing component of the scholarly community. This symposium serves as a platform to unite the community, enable collaboration amongst its members and add legitimacy to its research output.

Helen Tregidga
Helen Tregidga

The event’s keynote speech will be presented by Helen Tregidga (Royal Holloway, University of London), director of the Centre for Research into Sustainability, whose research is grounded in an interest in social and environmental issues, and critical aspects of organizations and work. Her primary research has focused on the constructions of sustainable development and sustainability within the corporate context, its consequences and, more recently, the role of academics and others countering or resisting the dominant discourse.

The symposium will include presentations by 18 academics from Argentina, Canada, Ghana, South Africa and the U.K. The event’s theme, “Accounting at the Crossroads of Democracy,” will be explored by panellists including Tregidga, Carla Edgley (Cardiff University), Christine Gilbert (Université Laval), Julius Otusanya (University of Lagos) and Fernanda Sauerbronn (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro).

The hybrid event will close with a panel discussion titled “Building Ethical Leaders for the Future Accounting Profession,” geared towards professional accountants and funded by CPA Ontario.

For more information about the symposium and to register, visit the event web page.

Researcher’s report considers farmers’ mental health

harvester in field

Zsofia Mendly-Zambo, a researcher and PhD candidate at the School of Health Policy & Management at York University, has released a report looking at a mental health crisis among Canadian farmers.

The report, titled “Field Notes: Looking upstream at the farmer mental health crisis in Canada” and commissioned by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the National Farmers Union, considers the source of high rates of stress, depression and anxiety experienced by farmers.

Zsofia Mendly-Zambo

The report identifies economic uncertainty as a primary factor behind the ongoing mental health crisis, as market fluctuations and farmland consolidation has made it more difficult for farmers to remain competitive. Similarly, the climate crisis – and its impact on their crops and work – continues to cause anxiety for farmers.

The report also provides six recommendations to address farmers’ mental health, including proposals to pursue policies to improve economic stability, exploring more support of sustainable farming practices and food systems, investing in rural infrastructure that can provide more mental health-care access, and community support, to name some.

Mendly-Zambo’s report builds upon ongoing interdisciplinary researchdrawing on health sciences, policy, agriculture and food systems – to explore health equity and farmer mental health, as well as food security and sovereignty. Furthermore, it reflects her drive to identify areas where policy can improve the ongoing crises, as “Field Notes” will form the foundation for future postdoctoral research seeking to help push policymakers to further prioritize the economic and social well-being of farmers instead of financial growth.

“The importance of mental health resources for farmers and the need to improve them cannot be understated,” Mendly-Zambo emphasizes in the conclusion of the report. “It is critical, however, that governments address structural factors to improve the living and working conditions of farmers.”

International project promotes healthy cities, transportation

bicycles in front of tree

York University School of Kinesiology & Health Science Professor Alison Macpherson, and postdoctoral visitor Emily McCullogh, travelled to Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, to collaborate on CapaCITY/É, a joint project focusing on sustainable transportation interventions.

The CapaCITY/É project, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Australia’s National Health & Medical Research Council, is comprised of population and public health researchers from 10 jurisdictions across Canada and Australia – including York University.

From left to right: Dr. Ben Beck (Monash University), Dr. Emily McCullogh (York University), Dr. Alison Macpherson (York University), and Dr. Lauren Pearson (Monash University).
From left to right: Ben Beck (Monash University), Emily McCullogh (York University), Alison Macpherson (York University) and Lauren Pearson (Monash University).

Its goal is to explore transportation infrastructure with safe and inclusive design to support the uptake of walking, cycling and using public transit. CapaCITY/É will lead analyses of implementation processes and outcomes, health equity and mobility impacts, as well as develop a novel framework to guide this meaningful work across cities and urban environments. All ages and abilities (AAA) infrastructure and speed management investments are key built environment changes that the CapaCITY/É team are looking at.

“Cities that prioritize a safer, more equitable built environment are more likely to have greater uptake of sustainable transportation, and CapaCITY/É will help us to understand ways to achieve this,” Macpherson notes.

Macpherson and McCullogh’s research trip to Australia was motivated by the project’s intent to leverage transportation systems and experts elsewhere to further CapaCITY/É progress. For example, one objective of the project is to develop a novel “skeleton framework,” geared towards implementing sustainable transportation interventions such as AAA infrastructure and speed management strategies. Currently, there are no implementation science frameworks designed specifically for sustainable transportation infrastructure and this work closes this gap. The goal is for the framework to help guide cities as they work to implement these interventions in their specific contexts.

The “skeleton framework,” once developed, will undergo review from other members of the CapaCITY/É team and be refined to reflect, and address, the barriers and enablers for sustainable transportation interventions across Canadian and Australian urban settings.

“Meeting with members of the Australian team certainly strengthens this research,” says York’s McCullogh. “We were able to discuss key differences and similarities between our two road safety contexts that will inform the development of the ‘skeleton framework,’ as well as the other CapaCITY/É objectives.”

“Key to multinational research is intentionally bringing together ideas in a meaningful and applied way,” says postdoctoral Fellow Lauren Pearson from Monash University. “Emily and Alison’s recent trip to Melbourne enabled them to not only embed themselves within our research team, but to gain a thorough understanding into the inner workings and complexities of our transport and public health systems.”

“The partnership between Canadian and Australian researchers, and city partners, is critical to advancing implementation of sustainable transport interventions,” said Associate Professor Ben Beck from Monash, “and our Sustainable Mobility and Safety Research Group at Monash University are delighted to be furthering our deep collaborative relationships with York University and the wider CapaCITY/É team.”

It’s a critical component of the CapaCITY/É project, now in the first of its six-year span, to exemplify interdisciplinary collaboration, as the team consists of researchers with a breadth of expertise in applied public health, preventative medicine, epidemiology, geography, urban planning, political science and sociology.

“Our work is really motivated by what we were hearing from municipal staff and from NGOs who are now an embedded part of the CapaCITY/É team,” says Meghan Winters, the project’s lead principle investigator, from Simon Fraser University. “They wanted to learn more from other cities – what worked, what the barriers were and how they overcame them. Over the next years, these are the conversations we will be hosting.”

Visit the CapaCITY/É website for updates:

Osgoode Fellow to focus on environmental law, Indigenous land rights

Trowbridge Conservation Area Thunder Bay Ontario Canada in summer featuring beautiful rapids and Canadian Forest with blue sky on summer

Osgoode Hall Law School master’s student Julia Brown, the 2023-24 Environmental Justice & Sustainability Clinic (EJSC) Fellow, hopes she can play a part in ensuring the development of Ontario’s mineral-rich Ring of Fire region, on First Nations land in the environmentally sensitive Hudson Bay Lowlands, does not take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous people who live there.

Julia Brown
Julia Brown

Brown will work with leaders of Neskantaga First Nation in an effort to draft the terms of a workable partnership with the Government of Canada as it prepares to undertake a regional environmental assessment prior to any mineral development. The assessment is taking place under Canada’s Impact Assessment Act, which replaced the Environmental Assessment Act in 2019.

Brown said the original terms of reference for the regional assessment gave First Nations in the area only token participation in the process. After strong pushback, the federal agency involved agreed to review the terms.

“That was disappointing,” she explained, “because this legislation was supposed to be a real improvement in terms of the roles that First Nations would play.

“That was a glaring omission,” she said. “Whether development should go ahead really should be up to the people who live there and whose land it is.”

While various levels of government have recognized the importance of reconciliation, they are still reluctant to give up control – especially when it comes to mineral wealth, Brown remarked.

The federal assessment will be among the first to look at a whole region; environmental assessments are typically project specific. Brown said the Ontario government has, to date, declined to participate in the federal process and is carrying out separate assessments focused only on proposed roads connecting the area to the provincial highway system.

“There is no precedent for the federal government in terms of how this regional assessment has to be structured,” she explained. “So we’ll be working on how it could be structured so there is a real partnership between First Nations and the federal government.”

Last year, Neskantaga First Nation marked its 10,000th day of being under a hazardous drinking water advisory, despite federal commitments to fix the problem. Located 463 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont., the fly-in community is situated amid a vast wetland that acts as a huge carbon sink.

Some have called the region the “lungs of Mother Earth,” and the First Nations people there call the region the “Breathing Lands.” In total, the Ring of Fire region spans about 5,000 square kilometres and is rich in chromite, nickel, copper, platinum, gold, zinc and other valuable minerals – some of which are required for battery production.

Brown, who previously worked as a lawyer for Toronto-based OKT Law, the country’s largest Indigenous rights law firm, said she feels fortunate to be working with the Environmental Justice & Sustainability Clinic and its current director, Professor Dayna Nadine Scott – and the feeling is mutual.

“We feel very fortunate this year at the EJSC to have someone with Julia’s depth of knowledge and experience to be stepping into the role of clinic Fellow,” said Scott.

As part of her graduate research, Brown will focus on the issue of emotion in judicial reasoning and how that influences Indigenous title cases. Her research adviser is Professor Emily Kidd White.