The third instalment of McGill’s annual Equity and Community Building Awards recognized doctoral student Lerona Lewis and Professor Bronwen Low of the Faculty of Education’s Department of Integrated Studies. Tuesday night’s award ceremony acknowledged outstanding contributions of McGillians towards promoting diversity and inclusivity in the local community and on campus. Following their introduction by Associate Provost Lydia White, award winners in the four categories -Student, Faculty, Support Staff and Team, each received a plaque from Provost Anthony Masi.
Lerona Lewis was honoured with Laura Risk, doctoral student with the Faculty of Music and Lerona’s co-chair with the PGSS Family Caucus (formerly the PGSS Family Care Committee), in the Team category. The clarity of the pair’s vision and their lobbying strength has led to the adoption of numerous recent University-wide projects: the establishment of the new Joint Board Senate Committee Sub-Committee on Family Care, new Guidelines for Academic Accommodation of Pregnant Students and Students Caring for Dependents, the PGSS Family Collection, and the installation of changing tables on campus.
“On many levels, McGill graduate students are trained to be leaders, to demonstrate excellence in their fields,” detailed Associate Provost Lydia White. “Laura and Lerona, however, have stepped far beyond this, joining forces to significantly change and improve the academic and every day lives of graduate students with families. In a culture of excellence, rarely do we stop to give thought to the ways in which family life changes, challenges, and often heavily burdens students’ academic paths.”
“Professor Bronwen Low has engaged equity issues in all domains of her academic duties,” said Associate Provost White, “including her research, teaching and service.” Dr. Low, Graduate Program Director for PhD Programs with DISE, was instrumental in launching the Department’s Diversity and Equity Committee, which she also chaired. Her research projects include “Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide and other Human Rights Violations,” and “Hip Hop Language and Youth Culture in Quebec.” Professor Low sits on the board for Maison Des Jeunes in Cote-des-Neiges, and is leading efforts to develop an urban arts program at James Lyng High School in Montreal’s Saint-Henri neighbourhood.
"I would like to thank my colleague Anila Ashgar for nominating me,” said Professor Low, “and those colleagues who wrote letters of support, as well as the members of the DISE Diversity and Equity Committee, including graduate and undergraduate students. I also thank other graduate students in the Faculty such as Rosalind Hampton and Rachel Zellars, whose work on equity inspires and pushes what I do. I would also like to thank all of the community artists, educators and activists who have been so open to collaborations with me including the staff at Maison des Jeunes, members of Nomadic Massive, Lynn Worrell and the artists at WORD -and Melissa Proietti and other members of the Urban Arts high school partnership.”
To read more about the awards, and for information about past years’ winners, please visit mcgill.ca/equity-community-award.