Law student wins prestigious $180,000 
Trudeau Foundation Scholarship


Claris Harbon recognized for work on civil disobedience by women and minorities and its impact on legislation

McGill doctoral law student Claris Harbon is one of 14 Canadian and foreign students recognized today by The Trudeau Foundation for their work in areas including environment, international affairs, responsible citizenship, and human rights and dignity.

In addition to the generous financial prize, Trudeau Scholars benefit from the expertise and knowledge of Trudeau Fellows and Mentors, highly accomplished individuals in the Trudeau community who are leaders in both academic and non-academic settings. Many Trudeau Scholars go on to become leading national and international figures.

Before coming to McGill for her doctorate, Harbon was engaged in clinical education and social justice in Israel, mainly from a communitarian perspective. Her focus has been on disempowered groups or silenced minorities, such as Mizrahis (Jews of Arab descent), Arab-Israelis, Palestinians, Ethiopians and women and children.

Harbon is seeking to develop an alternative legal discourse that reflects the needs of the community and through which the community can translate personal legal problems into social change by exploring the presumably "neutral" role of law in the construction of ethnic and racial identities of underprivileged minorities, and which can result in structural, legal and social inferiority.

“Trudeau Scholarships not only accelerate the careers of the doctoral students who receive them, but also enable recipients to make a constructive contribution to Canada and Canadians,” said Foundation President P.G. Forest. “The Trudeau Foundation rewards excellence and provides young researchers with the best conditions to ground their work in the real world.”

“Becoming a Trudeau Scholar is important to me as I am in the process of developing a voice within academia, and becoming a scholar in such an embracing and encouraging Foundation is exciting,” said Harbon.

“With its emphasis on the themes of human dignity and responsible citizenship, the Trudeau Foundation will enable me to pursue an interdisciplinary and dialogic research project that intersects the disciplines of law, sociology, gender and culture, and which seeks to build bridges between different discriminated communities,” she added.

Harbon has been involved in a broad range of women’s-rights issues, including the founding of Tmura, the Israeli Legal Center Against Discrimination. She also was also a founder of "Itach" Women Lawyers for Social Justice NGO, and she is a board member of “Achoti", a feminist Mizrahi organization for underprivileged women.

“We are thrilled that Claris, an O’Brien Doctoral Fellow at our Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, has been nominated as a Trudeau Scholar. Her work on women’s rights is innovative, comparative and deeply important in its exploration of civil disobedience and resistance to oppression in the everyday lives of women”, said Colleen Sheppard, McGill Law Professor and the Centre’s Director.

In addition to her academic, legal and community work Harbon is also publishing a children's book and book of poetry.

About the Trudeau Foundation

An independent and non-partisan Canadian charity, the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation was established in 2001 as a living memorial to the former Prime Minister by his family, friends, and colleagues. In 2002, the Government of Canada endowed the Foundation with a donation of $125 million following a unanimous vote in the House of Commons. In addition, the Foundation benefits from private sector donations in support of specific initiatives.

About McGill University

Founded in Montreal, Que., in 1821, McGill is Canada’s leading post-secondary institution. It has two campuses, 11 faculties, 11 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 36,000 students, including 8,300 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, with more than 7,200 international students making up 20 per cent of the student body. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including more than 6,200 francophones.

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Tamarah Feder
Media Relations Office, McGill University
tamarah.feder [at]
Office Phone: 
514 398-6754