Gauri Sreenivasan, Director, Policy and Programs, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, attended the largest ever Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences that took place from May 27 to June 2 at Ryerson University, with over 10,000 in attendance. She offered remarks and awarded the 2017 Canada Prizes at a ceremony on Sunday, May 28.
This was Minister Duncan’s first major occasion since taking office to speak directly to the humanities and social sciences community, and her message was clear: the humanities and social sciences are disciplines key to Canada’s long term success.
This was a welcome message to our community, particularly at an event celebrating excellence in humanities and social sciences scholarship. The Canada Prizes recognize and celebrate the exceptional research that scholars in our community are undertaking. Their passion and dedication are an important part of what allow us as Canadians to better understand who we are — as individuals and as a country.
Minister Duncan underscored the importance and value of the humanities and social sciences and referred to the recent report of the landmark independent panel examining Canada’s fundamental science system, chaired by former University of Toronto President David Naylor. (See the full text of her speech here)
“I was pleased the Science Review clearly acknowledged the essential role of the full range of scientific and scholarly disciplines. ‘Research in the social sciences and humanities,’ it says, ‘holds equal promise to help Canada address many of the challenges the nation faces.’ I could not agree more,” said Minister Duncan.
“I truly believe that one of Canada’s key strategic advantages is our social science and humanities. Social science and humanities researchers provide evidence for sound policy making and train the next generation of critical thinkers... We will invest to support your research because we know that a strong culture of research and scholarship will help us build a bold, bright future for all Canadians,” she added.
One of the Minister’s and our community’s top priorities are issues of equity and diversity. These are important priorities for Canada and for the academy itself. Having the insight and perspectives from scholars of diverse backgrounds is crucial not only for justice and fairness, but to mobilize the knowledge and understanding required for an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. Inclusion begins with understanding diverse peoples, cultures and social relations, and the humanities and social sciences are an essential part of this process.
“We must continue to work together to come up with more ideas on how we can make science look like today’s Canada – open, diverse and inclusive,” said Duncan. “I will be looking to the social science and humanities communities – since your communities have made great strides to be both diverse and balanced.”
The Federation looks forward to working with our members and the government to take up this important challenge together.
About the Canada Prizes
The Canada Prizes are awarded annually to the best books by Canadian scholars in the humanities and social sciences that make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada. Winners are selected from books that have received funding from the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, which is administered by the Federation.
This year’s winners are:
Canada Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences
Arthur J. Ray, Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History (McGill-Queen’s University Press). Read the blog or watch the interview video about his work.
Prix du Canada en sciences humaines et sociales
Mylène Bédard, Écrire en temps d'insurrections : Pratiques épistolaires et usages de la presse chez les femmes patriotes (1830-1840) (Presses de l’Université de Montréal). Read the blog or watch the interview video about her work.