Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

November 22, 2016 13:45 ET

Annual SSHRC Impact Awards recognize highest achievements from top five researchers

Claudia Mitchell of McGill University receives Gold Medal for strengthening HIV/AIDs education and prevention

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 22, 2016) - The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) today announced the five winners of the 2016 Impact Awards in Ottawa, selected by a jury from an extraordinary pool of talented researchers. The SSHRC Impact Awards highlight the highest achievements in research, research training, knowledge mobilization and outreach activities in the humanities and social sciences in Canada.

The winners were selected among a shortlist of finalists published in September. Through a peer review by distinguished individuals from academia, as well as the private, not-for-profit and public sectors, these finalists and winners were determined to be among the best researchers in the country. By supporting the work of talented researchers and academic leaders, the Government of Canada is helping to build stronger and more resilient communities.

On behalf of the Honourable Kristy Duncan, Minister of Science, Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, presented the Gold Medal alongside Ted Hewitt, SSHRC's president, to Claudia Mitchell, from the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. The Gold Medal is SSHRC's highest research honour and comes with $100,000 in research money.

Over the past two decades, Mitchell has demonstrated her passion for social justice through her work aiding youth in Canada and in countries such as South Africa, Rwanda, Russia and Ethiopia. Her research includes testing visual methods-such as participatory video, photography and archiving-to engage young people, teachers and community health care workers in strengthening HIV/AIDS prevention and education.

Also announced at the ceremony were the recipients of the Talent, Insight, Connection and Partnership awards, each receiving $50,000 in research money. These recipients are:

  • Aaron Mills, nominated by the University of Victoria, received the Talent Award. Mills is working to revitalize Indigenous law and constitutionalism in his own Anishinaabe community of Couchiching First Nation, and throughout Canada.
  • James Waldram, nominated by the University of Saskatchewan, received the Insight Award. An internationally renowned medical anthropologist, Waldram's scholarly work is seen as the gold standard of knowledge about Indigenous and First Nations health and healing.
  • John Willinsky, nominated by the Simon Fraser University, received the Connection Award. Willinsky founded the Public Knowledge Project at The University of British Columbia. Its goal is to increase public engagement with university scholarship by making publicly funded scientific research available to everyone.
  • Ajay Heble, nominated by the University of Guelph, received the Partnership Award. At the heart of Heble's research is the belief that improvisational activities can contribute to developing new and unexpected collaborations among people of diverse backgrounds.

These awards and research funds recognize research excellence in the social sciences and humanities, which promotes the increased scope, scale and impact of Canadian research and training.


"SSHRC's Impact Awards is a celebration of curiosity and commitment. I am proud to be part of a government that values the vital work of these champions-winners and finalists alike. By supporting the work of talented researchers, we help build stronger and more resilient communities. Through more education and research, we are building a better understanding of the world around us."

- The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

"The Impact Awards honour the best social sciences and humanities research being conducted in Canada today. Along with Ted Hewitt, president of SSHRC, I am honoured to present this year's Gold Medal to McGill University's Claudia Mitchell. Her efforts to strengthen HIV/AIDs education and prevention in developing countries through the use of video and other visual methods are truly remarkable."

- Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

"Recognizing the accomplishments of the best researchers in Canada is essential to building a vibrant and long-term culture of discovery and innovation in our country. Now and in the future, what will keep our country competitive is our ability to help people understand, shape and adapt-which is wholly within the realm of social sciences and humanities. Congratulations to the five researchers we are celebrating today."

- Ted Hewitt, President, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

Quick facts

  • Claudia Mitchell is the third researcher from McGill University to win a SSHRC Gold Medal. Renowned philosopher Charles Taylor won the inaugural Gold Medal in 2003, and medical anthropologist Margaret Lock won the prestigious prize in 2007.
  • SSHRC is a federal research funding agency that promotes and supports postsecondary-based research and talent development in the humanities and social sciences.

Related links

- Recipients of the 2016 SSHRC Impact Awards

- Finalists of the 2016 SSHRC Impact Awards

- Previous Gold Medal winners

- Visit the SSHRC Impact Awards page

Follow SSHRC on Twitter: @SSHRC_CRSH

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