Pascale Fournier (Fulbright Canada Alumni): Amongst The 25 Most Influential Lawyers In The Country !

For a 6th consecutive year in a row, Canadian Lawyer Magazine has published its “Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada” and Pascale Fournier features in it! Nominated in the “World Stage” Category, which celebrates the influence of Canadian lawyers on the international scene, Professor Fournier was selected for her humanitarian involvement and the large scope of her academic contributions beyond Canadian borders. The selection committee used the following criteria: “We have endeavoured to select the most influential within the law over the last 18 years, looking at every area of practice. It’s about respect, ability to influence public opinion, and help shape the laws of the country; contribution to the strength and quality of legal services; and social and political influence and involvement.” A video presents the 25 profils chosen by their peers !

With passion and rigour, Professor Fournier continues her ethnographic work to better understand the impact of religious family law on women from all over the globe. Her endeavour is now informed by a decade of encounters with Muslim, Jewish and Christian women of various ethnic backgrounds that allowed her to carefully study their navigation of competing normative systems. The interviews were successfully conducted in several countries, including Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Palestine, Lebanon and Israel. She currently undertakes research projects that focus primarily on children, more specifically the extent to which their interests are shaped and influenced by the multiple interactions of civil family law and religious rules. The dialogue between religious law and state law generates its share of complexities and ambiguities, which are rarely captured by a rigid and positivist conception of law. Desirous to maximize her academic contribution and to deepen our comprehension of these significant legal issues, Professor Fournier is committed to better defining the impact of this normative and legal pluralism on the interests of women and children.

This distinction beautifully adds to a year of numerous accomplishments and prestigious awards under the sign of internationality for Professor Fournier. Invited to join the International Women’s Forum, she integrated a network of 36 women from 14 countries who are considered leaders in their respective fields and with whom she had the opportunity to exchange at length during three summits, namely at Harvard Business School (Massachusetts), INSEAD (Fontainebleau, France) and Atlanta (Georgia). Her research concerning women of all heritages was also formally recognized by the Canada-Arab Chamber of Commerce, when it awarded her its Special Achievement Award for “Excellence and Humanitarian Contribution.” Most recently, she was unanimously appointed by the Quebec National Assembly as a Commissioner to the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ); within this new mandate, Professor Fournier tackles once more national and international issues of human rights. Not to forget that Pascale Fournier has added a string to her bow as she comes back profoundly transformed from her participation as a delegate to the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, where she explored the wonders of the Northwest Territories and discussed Canada’s role in terms of leadership and innovation.

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Congratulations Thaddeus Holownia (Fulbright Canada Alumni) for receiving the Order of New Brunswick!

ThaddeusHolowniaNew Brunswick is infinitely richer for the commitment, spirit and talent of Thaddeus Holownia,an internationally renowned photographer.

Mr. Holownia grew up in England and Ontario. In the late 1970s, he became a professor of fine arts at Mount Allison University, where he is currently head of the department. Mr. Holownia has produced many impressive bodies of work that push the boundaries of his art form while documenting this region’s cultural history. He is known for his Jolicure Pond series, in which he photographed the same subject in different seasons under different lighting conditions.  His photographs and book works have been acquired by some of the finest museums in Canada. His work has been shown in the United States, France, Germany, Belgium, Mexico and the Czech Republic.  Mr. Holownia is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Fine Arts (RCA) and is a Fulbright Canada Fellow.

Mr. Holownia has also made significant contributions to his community as a teacher and a mentor. He has twice received the Paul Paré Medal from Mount Allison University in recognition of excellence in teaching, creative activity, research and community service.

Mr. Holownia has also given of his time and talent to Sackville and the rest of the province. He has worked with the Vogue cinema to bring to that community a film program that centres on the artistic quality of this genre. He is also part of Galerie 12, a co-operative gallery in Moncton managed by predominantly francophone artists.

Thaddeus Holownia is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for producing a constantly evolving body of work that is virtually unparalleled within the visual arts in Canada.

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From the U.K., a lesson on judicial appointments

By Joanna Harrington, a professor of law at the University of Alberta and 2015-2016 Fulbright Chair at the University of Texas-Austin
Originally published on the Globe and Mail on Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2015 3:00AM EDT

Ten years ago, the original Westminster Parliament brought to an end the ability of the executive branch to control the judicial appointments process in England and Wales for all but the most senior positions. There’s a lesson in here for Canada.

With the passage of the Constitutional Reform Act of 2005, an independent body for the appointment of judges and tribunal members was created to ensure that those holding judicial office are selected solely on the basis of merit, through a fair and open competition. The members of the Judicial Appointments Commission are themselves selected through open competition, other than the three members from the judiciary.

After putting short-listed candidates through role plays and interviews, the commission recommends one candidate for each vacancy, which the minister can accept or reject, or seek commission reconsideration.

No longer is the judicial appointments process for England and Wales (and partly used in Scotland and Northern Ireland) reliant on a system of talent scouts and “secret soundings” for appointments “by invitation” or a “tap on the shoulder.” Instead, the system relies on publicly advertised notices of vacancies, open job competitions, written tests, selection panels involving members of the public, articulated standards and competencies, and training schemes to enhance the pool of qualified applicants (such as judge shadowing programs and the use of part-time appointments to gain experience). And while Canada still requires a minimum of 10 years at the bar to be a judge, the time period post-qualification in the United Kingdom has been reduced to seven years (five years for the District Court).

The desire for diversity has been a motivating factor, with many believing that those on the bench should be representative of the public they serve. This means the appointment of women judges, as well as judges from ethnic minorities (what are known in England as BAME appointments to increase judges from black, Asian, minority ethnic communities) and judges from varied professional backgrounds (including legal academics), and indeed, the appointment of a number of High Court judges under the age of 50.

Some argue that removing the flexibility inherent in a discretionary system has in reality made diversity harder to achieve. But there are other means to address this concern while retaining an open competition, such as tweaking the process so as to provide feedback to failed candidates to encourage reapplications, and using tie-breaker or tipping provisions when two or more candidates for a judicial post are of equal merit.

As for the selection of the U.K.’s most senior judges, there are separate commissions, which for the U.K. Supreme Court, like the Supreme Court of Canada, must recognize the need for the judges to have knowledge and experience in the law of each part of the country. (Scotland, like Quebec, brings a need for civil law expertise.) The separate selection panels used for senior judicial appointments also have obligations of consultation with certain senior judges, and with the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales and the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission. There is also a limited role for the Lord Chancellor (in essence, the law officer within the cabinet).

After an extensive inquiry into the process of judicial appointments, the U.K.’s House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution made clear its view in 2012 with respect to the link between judicial independence and the retention of public confidence in the justice system. The cross-party body was also against the use of pre- and post-appointment hearings within Parliament for senior judicial appointments. The worry is that political considerations will inevitably inform both the selection of parliamentarians to sit on the relevant committees or panels, and the choice of questions to be asked.

In countries of the Westminster tradition, judges do not rely on any democratic mandate. Instead, their legitimacy rests on their independent status and appointment on merit. The role of Parliament, and of parliamentarians, therefore lies with the oversight of the judicial appointments process as a whole, and not the selection of a particular individual.

Alaskan villages imperiled by global warming need resources to relocate

By Victoria Herrmann, Fulbright Student 2013-2014
Posted originally on The Guardian, Monday 27 July 2015

The Arctic is warming at a rate almost twice the global average, making climate change’s effects there far more intense and rapid than any other ecosystem in the world. While nature photographs of polar bears and melting ice dominate media narratives, the top of the world is home to 4m people who face an uncertain future.

 Delaying the relocation of villages now will put families at risk further down the road. Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Delaying the relocation of villages now will put families at risk further down the road. Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Coastal erosion, forest fires and storm surges are threatening the physical and economic safety of settlements across the Arctic Ocean shoreline. Further inland, thawing permafrost is compromising the stability of transportation, sanitation and public service infrastructure built upon once-sturdy foundations. In Alaska alone, 31 villages face imminent threat of destruction from erosion and flooding. Many of these villages have 10 to 20 years of livability before their streets, schools and homes become uninhabitable. At least 12 have decided to relocate – in part or entirely – to safer ground to avoid total collapse.

This week, the United States approaches the First Hundred Days mark of its leadership of the Arctic Council, a high-level governmental forum for the world’s eight Arctic nations to act on circumpolar challenges. Leadership gives the US a two-year opportunity to lead the international community in confronting climate change there. Though the US, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, has seen some successful polar initiatives implemented in the past few months, there is much more work to be done.

In early 2015, President Obama proposed $50.4m in federal spending to help Native American communities adapt public infrastructure to the effects of climate change. That is less than half of what the US Army Corps of Engineers estimates to be needed to relocate just one Alaskan town. Moving an entire community to a safer location mere miles away can cost anywhere from $80m to upwards of $250m.

Currently, federal programs for disaster assistance are limited and mostly unavailable to villages that require relocation. Relief programs focus on sudden natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy at the expense of financially supporting the adaptation and relocation of towns facing dangers from gradual natural processes. Because of this, communities in Alaska must rely on ad hoc federal and state grants to build single buildings, in hopes of relocating in full before an emergency evacuation is needed.

To truly lead in meeting today’s most pressing Arctic issue and help safeguard the wellbeing of northerners, Secretary Kerry must take seriously the issue of climate relocation. This means working towards the creation of a legal and financial structure that can adequately respond to communities in need today.

Defining a new governance structure and making the necessary financial resources available to deal with climate relocation will take hard work and a determined commitment by Secretary Kerry and his Arctic team. The structure must be built through engagement at all levels of government, which is largely lacking in America’s current national Arctic framework. That means not only being inclusive of tribal, local and state stakeholders in Alaska, but also engaging the many federal agencies involved in relocation activities, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the newly formed Senate Arctic Caucus.

A first step towards this ambition is simple: convene a relocation policy meeting in DC with vital local, state and federal policymakers and stakeholders within the year to draft a strategic plan. The plan’s components must be actionable, with further steps to be taken over the US’s two-year chairmanship transparent and deliverable. Debate over who will fund relocation and which agency will lend technical assistance during the meeting will be intense. But the meeting, debates and eventual outcomes are essential for protecting the lives of our northernmost citizens.

Secretary Kerry concluded his first Arctic Council meeting in April by stressing the importance of acting quickly. “We all know the clock is ticking, and we actually don’t have a lot of time to waste.” This is most evident today in the Arctic, but the clock is also ticking for communities in New Jersey, Louisiana, California and other coastal states.

Alaskan villages may be the first to be forced into climate-induced relocation, but they certainty won’t be the last. Creating a framework for relocation can establish an important structure for vulnerable towns across America to use in the decades to come. To make America’s next hundred days leading the council more impactful than the first, Secretary Kerry must inaugurate the process to build a deliverable policy to help not only Alaskans, but citizens on all American shorelines, before times runs out for us all.

Fulbright Arctic Scholars Collaborate for One Arctic

Posted by Steve Money originally on the U.S. Department of State Official Blog
July 16, 2015

Scholars from the eight Arctic countries gathered in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada for their first official meeting as participants of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative
Scholars from the eight Arctic countries gathered in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada for their first official meeting as participants of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative

The United States and other countries are placing more attention on the Arctic as global climate change opens the region to navigation and commercial exploration. During his remarks at a State Department celebration marking the beginning of the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May 2015, Secretary Kerry noted that, “We want a region where people can live with hope and optimism for the future, where strong measures are being taken to mitigate environmental harm, where natural resources are managed effectively and sustainably, and where the challenges of economic development and social cohesion are being addressed in a creative, sensitive, responsible way.”

As Secretary Kerry made these remarks, 17 junior scholars and established experts from the eight Arctic countries, including Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States, gathered in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada for their first official meeting as participants of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative. For 18 months, the Fulbright Arctic Scholars will be working with governments, NGOs, businesses, and Arctic communities to research innovative solutions to impacts of climate change in the Arctic, particularly on the issues of water, energy, health, and infrastructure.

While in Iqaluit, the scholars informed and shaped their individual and group research projects by forming partnerships with local leaders, policymakers, and researchers of the Arctic region. They met with community leaders Peter Taptuna, premier of Nanuvut; Ekho Wilman, mayor of Iqaluit; and Okalik Eegeesiak, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. U.S. Ambassador for Oceans and Fisheries Dave Balton, U.S. Senior Arctic Official Julie Gourley, and CanNor President Janet King discussed U.S. and Canadian government priorities for the region. Arctic researchers, including Gwen Healy, director of the Qaujigiartiit Heath Research Center, and Mary Ellen Thomas, senior research officer at the Nunavut Research Institute, talked to the group about the particular challenges of conducting research in the Arctic.

This inaugural meeting followed the transition in April to the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which will seek to focus more attention on Arctic issues and foster increased international scholarly collaboration with the United States.

Dr. Ross Virginia of Dartmouth College and Dr. Mike Sfraga of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, are the Co-lead Scholars of the Initiative. On the outcome of the opening meeting, Dr. Virginia said, “The Fulbright Scholars came to Iqaluit as individuals and left as a team. Their commitment to conducting research that is relevant to Arctic communities, policy makers, and the broader public is impressive. We expect great things to come from the Initiative.”

As Arctic nations take steps to work together on shared challenges, the Fulbright Arctic Initiative offers a collaborative model for scholarly exchange to help translate theory into practice.

About the Author: Steve Money is a Program Officer in the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs’ Office of Academic Exchange Programs.

The Fulbright Arctic Initiative: Opportunity and Responsibility

By Dr. Greg Poelzer, one of three Fulbright Arctic Scholars from Canada

The challenges facing the people and lands of the Circumpolar North are huge.  So, too, are the opportunities.   Coming to grips with the sheer breadth and complexity of interdependent issues ranging from energy to water, and from infrastructure to health, requires problem-oriented, multidisciplinary research teams, drawing on diverse experiences from around the Circumpolar North.  For scholars who have dedicated their life’s work to research, teaching, and community engagement in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, the Fulbright Arctic Initiative represents a once-in-a-life time opportunity.


Photo by Acacia Johnson

The Fulbright Arctic Initiative was publicly launched through a panel discussion on the ‘Challenges of Conducting Research in the Arctic’ in Ottawa, Canada on April 22, 2015.  A launch is an exciting affair.  A launch bursts with anticipation of the new possibilities and partnerships, and of life-long working relations among new colleagues and soon to be new friends.  A launch also marks the significance of the event.  In the case of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative, the significance is a public declaration by the participants of their professional commitment to devote their research energies to a greater public good, namely, toward the betterment of the lives of residents of the Circumpolar North.  As one of the panelists on that day, it was impossible not to be struck by the tremendous opportunity and the important responsibility that the Fulbright Arctic Initiative represents.  The launch of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative itself could not have been better timed.  The launch preceded the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in Iqaluit, with the handing of the chairmanship from Canada to the United States, but it also took place on Earth Day.

DSC00614The Earth Day panel opened with a welcoming ceremony by Inuk Elder Sally Kate Qimmiunaaq WebsterDSC00643

Opening remarks were given by U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman


Dr. Michael K.  Hawes, Fulbright Canada CEO introduced  the Fulbright Arctic Initiative and the Arctic scholars


Panelists included Ross Virginia, Director of the Institute of Arctic, Dartmouth College, and Co-Lead of the Initiative; myself, one of the three Canadian scholars selected to participate in the endeavor; and Tracy Coates, a Mohawk scholar working at the University of Ottawa, who brought important insights and reflections on the role of Indigenous knowledge in contemporary research.  Ross provided an overview of the Initiative itself, and the scholars involved, as well as his perspectives on the challenges and opportunities ahead.  Ross and his Co-Lead, Michael Sfraga, Vice-Chancellor, University of Alaska Fairbanks, bring tremendous leadership experience to guide this international endeavor.


A few weeks prior to the launch, the Fulbright Arctic Initiative Scholars had an opportunity to meet one another via webinar. Although we are diverse group with unique life experiences and different research career paths, we quickly discovered that we were fundamentally united in a commitment that our research should, first and foremost, emerge through partnerships with Northern communities and, equally as important, serve the betterment of the peoples and regions of the Circumpolar North.


But, perhaps one of the most rewarding moments of the event was when an Inuk young man asked how we can connect Northern youth with our research, and Northern research in general, and how we can build capacity in Northern communities through research.  He reached out to us, underscoring a core value of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative.  We can do tremendous things working together and harnessing all of our talents, energies, and visions.  The future of the Arctic has never looked brighter!

IMG_2429Dr. Greg Poelzer, Michèle Phillips, Program Officer for External Relations at Fulbright Canada, Acacia Johnson, Photographer and Fulbright Scholar, and Dr. Ross Virginia, Co-Lead Scholar of Fulbright Arctic Initiative – Being silly at the vernissage