Ten years later: honouring the memory of Jackie Kirk (1968-2008)

Published: 13 August 2018

Dr. Jackie Kirk (1968-2008) had recently been appointed Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education when she was killed in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008, while working on girls’ education for the New York-based International Rescue Committee. Dr.  Kirk was one of four people shot in an ambush for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.  

This year, on the tenth anniversary of her death, her memory will be honoured with a series of initiatives. 

Dr. Kirk was founding co-editor of the journal Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and a former Research Associate at the McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women. Her research and activism focused especially on adolescent girls’ and young women’s education. She obtained her PhD at McGill in 2002, and began working with the International Rescue Committee in 2004, helping to support their education programs worldwide. She was an active member of the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), founding the INEE Gender Task Team in 2005. She was also significantly engaged in research aimed at the strengthening of intercultural relationships between Anglophone and Francophone students at McGill University and L'Université de Montréal.

More specifically, her work looked at education in emergencies, the challenges facing women teachers, and the menstruation-related needs of school-going girls. In addition, Jackie displayed a keen grasp of the importance of visual images in understanding the realm of girls’ education. She brought to her work an attention to critical theoretical concepts alongside the practical; she always placed girls and women (especially women teachers) at the center of her explorations, her analyses, and her recommendations for policy and practice.

Initiatives to honour her legacy include:

  • A  tribute article in Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, the journal co-founded by Jackie Kirk in 2007, "Honoring the Legacy of Jackie Kirk," documenting a special international event  that paid tribute to her work at the annual conference of  Comparative and International Education Society held earlier this year. The articles all relate to girls, education, and social responsibility, very much in keeping with Jackie Kirk's professional life. This tribute article is free to access, and is available online here.​
  • On September 27, the Faculty of Education will honour the legacy of Jackie Kirk at McGill through a special event to be held in the first floor foyer, 5:00 PM - 7:30 PM. The event will include a panel of speakers who worked with or who have been inspired by Jackie, and the opening of an art exhibition ‘Speaking Back: Youth-led Perspectives on Combating Sexual Violence’. The exhibition was created using participatory arts-based methods by young people from 6 countries, including Indigenous youth in Canada and South Africa, along with work produced in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sweden and Russia. To RSVP or for  further information about this event please contact Leann Brown (info in Contact field at bottom of page).
  • The Jackie Kirk Fellowship was established in 2009 by Andrew Kirk in memory of his wife, Jackie Kirk. It is awarded to outstanding graduate students in the Faculty of Education, with a preference for students whose research has a focus on any one or a combination of the following: post-conflict education on developing countries, women teachers, and girlhood studies. Since the award was started in 2009 there have been 23 recipients. More information is available here.
  • The Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) administrates the Jackie Kirk Memorial Fund, "designed to memorialize the legacy that Jackie Kirk has left on the field of comparative and international education. Jackie Kirk’s work was prolific and varied, and committed to the active engagement of theory and practice, in ways that further the empowerment of women and girls, and the improvement of education in conflict and post-conflict settings." In addition, CIES recognize an outstanding book annually with the Jackie Kirk Outstanding Book Award. Learn more about the fund and award here.
  • ​A special issue of Studies in Social Justice dedicated to Dr. Kirk’s work and guest edited by Vanessa Farr, Marni Sommer and Claudia Mitchell  will be launched later this year.
  • A commemorative tree and bench dedicated to Jackie can be found on the lower campus of McGill University, in the enclosed space just in front of the MacDonald building. 

 plant, grass, tree, outdoor and nature

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