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Canada Council awards prizes to U of M alumna and visiting scholar

June 26, 2015 — 

Every year, the Canada Council proudly administers and funds prizes that honour excellence, promote creativity and foster innovation to advance the arts, social sciences and humanities. This week, it announced this year’s prize recipients: ten outstanding artists and scholars who have received awards created through private endowments and partnerships totaling $300,000.

Constance Backhouse (BA/72, LLD/10)

Constance Backhouse (BA/72, LLD/10)

Among the recipients were two noted researchers with connections to the University of Manitoba. Constance Backhouse (BA/72, LLD/10), an internationally known feminist researcher and legal scholar, has been awarded the Canada Council for the Arts 2015 Molson Prize winner in the social sciences/humanities for the cohesion, integrity and relevance of her work in helping marginalized groups.

Backhouse is best known for her studies on sex discrimination and the legal history of gender and race in Canada. Using a narrative style of writing, her recent books and articles profile the ways in which women and racialized communities have struggled to obtain justice within the legal system. She holds the positions of Distinguished University Professor and University Research Chair at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa.

Backhouse served as an adjudicator for the compensation claims for former inmates of the Grandview Training School for Girls and students of Aboriginal Residential Schools across Canada. She has served as an expert witness on various aspects of sexual abuse and violence against women and children. She is also a member of the board of directors for the Women’s Education and Research Foundation and a founding co-publisher and co-editor of the Feminist History Society.

Reinhard Pekrun, recipient of the John G. Diefenbaker Award

Reinhard Pekrun, recipient of the John G. Diefenbaker Award

Another Canada Council prize, the John G. Diefenbaker Award, funds a German scholar to visit Canada to research, teach and advance knowledge in a particular field. Reinhard Pekrun, professor of psychology at Ludwig-Maximilians Universität in Munich, will stay at the University of Manitoba to collaborate with Canadian scholars to advance research on the role emotions play in learning, memory processes and cognitive performance. Pekrun is currently Research Chair in Personality and Educational Psychology at the University of Munich.

Pekrun is studying reasons ways to motivate more young people to consider post-secondary education. His proposed research will examine students’ achievement emotions by focusing on functional structures and measurement, their impact on students’ engagement and educational attainment, and the development of an intervention program to promote adaptive and reduce maladaptive achievement emotions. Such students’ emotions include: enjoyment of learning, interest in academic materials, hope for success, anger about academic task demands, anxiety before exams or boredom during classroom instruction.

Pekrun’s research will strengthen the existing collaboration with Canadian universities as part of an international network of studies. The Diefenbaker Award will make it possible to plan and implement subsequent grants to German and Canadian national research agencies to further strengthen collaborative research on achievement emotions and motivation in Canada. This research will be conducted during the funding period of the Award (September 1, 2015 to August 31, 2016) and will primarily be conducted at the University of Manitoba.

Canada Council Molson Prizes are funded from the income of an endowment given to the Canada Council from the Molson Family Foundation and recognize the recipients outstanding lifetime achievements and ongoing contributions to the cultural and intellectual life of Canada. The Canada Council administers these awards in partnership with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

The John G. Diefenbaker Award is funded by an endowment given to the Canada Council for the Arts by the Government of Canada. The endowment, announced by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney during his visit to Germany in the spring of 1991, honours the memory of former Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker. It is administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, in a shared history of collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany.

The award is given annually, and it enables a distinguished German scholar to do research in Canada, which may include brief periods in the United States. While research must be the primary activity during the award period, the award recipient will be encouraged to participate in the teaching activities of the host institution and to interact with the research communities in Canada and the United States by visiting other institutions.

The teaching and institutional visiting activities are intended to broaden the impact of the award recipient’s visit, while enriching the visitor’s experience. The spirit of the John G. Diefenbaker Award is to encourage exchange between scholarly communities in Canada and Germany.

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