Claudia Mitchell awarded Prix du Québec

Faculty of Education professor receives Léon-Gérin Prize to honour her distinguished research career in the humanities and social sciences
On the significance of winning the Prix du Québec on the International Day of the Girl, Claudia Mitchell said, “I feel that this is a crucial moment in history; we are seeing such powerful examples of girls and young women whose strong voices are bringing about social change.” Owen Egan

The Government of Québec announced earlier today the 2019 Prix du Québec Awards recipients, which are bestowed upon individuals living and working in Quebec in recognition of their exceptional cultural and scientific achievements. One of the 15 Prix du Quebec recipients is the Faculty of Education’s own Claudia Mitchell, Distinguished James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education, who was awarded the Leon-Gerin prize for her illustrious career studying gender-based violence prevention, HIV, and AIDS awareness, and working with youth around the world. She will formally receive her medal at a ceremony held by the Government of Quebec in November.

“This is truly such an honour and I am very grateful to McGill and the various funders for their sustained support of my research,” said Mitchell.

Highest honour for Quebec researchers

Established in 1977, the Léon-Gérin Prize is the highest honour awarded to Quebec researchers who have had a distinguished career in the humanities and social sciences. To be considered for the Léon-Gérin Prize, recipients must provide a high quality scope of scientific production, have an international reach, and must have contributed to research training in their field or community development. For each of the Prix du Quebec awards, nominations are evaluated by a selection committee representing recognized disciplines for the target prize. Winners receive $30k from the Quebec government, as well as a silver medal created by a professional Quebecois artist.

“Professor Mitchell’s career path has been remarkable and her research record is just wonderful,” said Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation. “Her work has had a worldwide influence on HIV and AIDS awareness, the prevention of violence based on sex, and safety in sanitation and housing. McGill is truly proud of Professor Mitchell’s devotion to impactful and inspirational research.”

Research focuses on issues impacting youth

Mitchell has devoted much of her exceptional research career to a number of issues affecting youth including girlhood studies, sexuality and HIV and AIDs, gender-based violence and teacher identity. Her international research includes employing visual methods, like cellphone videos and photography, to engage young people, on a variety of subjects, such as preventing HIV/AIDS transmission and sexual violence.

As the founder of the Participatory Cultures Club, she continues to engage young women in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Vietnam and Russia, and Indigenous girls and young women across Canada. At home in Quebec, her work supports the preparation of new teachers and researchers to focus on the needs of children at risk raised in Montreal, including young people and children affected by war and without status.

“It means so much to me to be involved in participatory visual work with girls and young women, and to have their contributions recognized,” said Mitchell. “Today, October 11, is after all the International Day of the Girl. I feel that this is a crucial moment in history; we are seeing such powerful examples of girls and young women whose strong voices are bringing about social change. I am thinking here of Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, Nadia Murad, and Autumn Pelletier, to name only four.”

In recognition of her contributions to academic leadership, scholarly research and community outreach, Mitchell has been awarded many prestigious awards. In 2017, Mitchell was named a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellow and the Foundation supports her project, Circles within circles: Girl-led transnational dialogues to combat sexual violence, using visual tools to help youth communicate strategies to prevent sexual violence and promote well-being. The project also supports activities like conferences on girl-led initiatives, a series of media-making workshops in nine countries and a travelling digital exhibition of girl-produced digital productions. In 2016, Mitchell was awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Gold Medal—SSHRC’s highest research honour—in recognition of the exceptional quality and impact of her research. In 2015, she received an honorary degree from Mid Sweden University and was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Prof. Mitchell is not the only McGillian recognized by the Prix du Québec this year. Three McGill alumni also took home honours: Hélène Cajolet-Laganière won the Prix Georges-Émile-Lapalme (culture category), Maxime Descoteaux won the Prix Relève scientifique, and Stanley Nattel won the Prix Wilder-Penfield (science category).

Read the press release here.