Canadian, West African researchers get support to tackle national and global challenges

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OTTAWA, December 15, 2020 – Two hundred Canadian and West African researchers and advanced scholars will be receiving funding from the new QES Advanced Scholars West Africa program to work together to find solutions to the world’s increasingly complex challenges.

The funding supports research-focused exchanges for doctoral researchers, post-doctoral fellows and early career researchers in universities in Canada and West and Central African countries.

Each of the QES-AS West Africa projects focuses on (or clearly integrates) gender equality – the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 – and puts particular emphasis on increasing partnerships between Canada and Francophone countries. All scholars will also participate in leadership development and community engagement activities and in the broader network of Queen Elizabeth Scholars.

Descriptions of the 11 supported projects at Canadian universities are on the QES website.

The Queen Elizabeth Scholars program was created in 2014 to improve global talent exchange between Canada and other nations. The program aims to develop the next generation of innovative leaders and community builders by providing enriched academic, professional and cross-cultural experiences and by facilitating lasting local and global community engagement.

QES is a collaborative initiative led by the Rideau Hall Foundation and Universities Canada. The International Development Research Centre first invested in 2016, with $10 million for a new component supporting advanced scholars (AS) along with $2.5 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Earlier this year, to coincide with the Centre’s 50th anniversary, IDRC invested a further $3.5 million to expand the QES-AS program to support doctoral researchers, post-doctoral fellows and early career researchers from eligible West African countries and Canada.

Since its inception, the QES program has offered more than 2,200 scholarships, engaged 44 Canadian universities in every Canadian province, and involved activities in more than 70 countries to build a community of young leaders through a global exchange of talent between Canada and other nations.



“As a 50-year-old Canadian organization with longstanding connections in West Africa, IDRC believes this new investment in the QE-AS program will increase opportunities for young researchers in the region as well as provide Canadian researchers with experience in the global environment. IDRC’s partnership with the Rideau Hall Foundation and Universities Canada bodes well for a lasting legacy of closer academic ties between Canada and West Africa.”

Jean Lebel, president of the International Development Research Centre


“The QES program has continued to move forward with these new opportunities for the benefit of our global scholars and researchers, despite the disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Through QES, we are supporting the next generation of world leaders with a particularly Canadian perspective by focusing on the pillars of leadership development and community engagement.”

Teresa Marques, president and CEO of the Rideau Hall Foundation


“2020 has demonstrated that global connections are more important than ever. QES scholars are the next generation of innovative leaders and community builders in Canada and around the world.

Through their applied research, creative leadership, and professional networking, these scholars will contribute to stronger economies and prosperous societies, and significantly enrich the knowledge base within their respective fields.”

Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada


About IDRC

Part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts, IDRC invests in knowledge, innovation, and solutions to improve the lives of people in the developing world. The research we support builds evidence to break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities, and help people live healthier and more sustainable lives. Learn more at

Media contact: Morgan Waters,

About Rideau Hall Foundation

The Rideau Hall Foundation is an independent and non-political charitable organization established to mobilize ideas, people, and resources across the country to tap into our national spirit and help realize our shared aspirations. Learn more at

Media contact: Mélanie Béchard,


About Universities Canada

Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians. Learn more at

Media contact: Brenna Baggs,

Fifth Call for Proposals Launched

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Following four very successful Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program (QES) calls for proposals through which 95 projects managed by 44 Canadian universities have been funded, Universities Canada is pleased to announce a fifth call.

QES Advanced Scholars – West Africa

Thanks to the generous financial support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), up to $3 million CAD will be allocated via the expansion of the QES Advanced Scholars program, which will support doctoral researchers, post-doctoral fellows and early career researchers from eligible West African countries and Canada.

This call will support projects contributing to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with preference given to proposals that focus on or clearly integrate SDG 5 (gender equality) as a crosscutting or mainstream goal. QES-AS West Africa projects will focus on one or more of the following areas: climate resilience and sustainable food systems; education and innovation systems; ethics in development research; health equity; inclusive governance; and sustainable inclusive growth.

The program will require all scholars to participate in leadership development and community engagement activities and in the network of Queen Elizabeth Scholars.

More information is available here.

Scholars discuss value of international research collaboration

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Three Queen Elizabeth Scholars were recently interviewed on the podcast Beyond Canada: International Thought and Scholarship. The podcast “aims to talk to graduate students and professionals at Queen’s University in Kingston who are conducting research, work, and/or scholarship outside of Canada. Not only will this podcast delve into the details of their research and their own personal journeys, it will also discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that arise when doing international research.”

Queen Elizabeth Scholars Nuworza Kugbey, Phidelia Doegah, and Ryenchindorj Erkhembayar, who all recently completed their PhDs, talk about how international research collaboration has enriched their work and careers.

Listen to the episode here.

2019 QES Call for Proposals is now open

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Following very successful Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) program calls for proposals in 2014, 2016 and 2017, Universities Canada and the Rideau Hall Foundation are pleased to announce a fourth call for proposals.

2019 Competition

Thanks to funding provided by The Waugh Family Foundation, QES 2019 will support projects in Latin America and the Caribbean that focus on education, social services and health. Canadian universities are invited to submit multi-year project proposals seeking funding of up to $300 thousand CAD. Each Canadian university may submit one proposal to the 2019 competition. Up to $1,800,000 CAD is available through this competition.

Projects will support international internships for Canadian students and/or scholarships for incoming international graduate students. The program will require all scholars to participate in leadership development and community engagement activities and in the network of Queen Elizabeth Scholars.

Learn more about the project criteria and the application process here.

Profile of a Queen Elizabeth Scholar: Zohra Lakhani

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Zohra Lakhani had nearly finished the first year of her Master of Education program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto when she first heard about the Queen Elizabeth Scholars (QES) program through a student listserv.

“It was exactly what I was looking for,” she said.

Lakhani had deliberately taken a heavy course load in her first year of the two-year program to ensure she had a lighter load in her second year to allow her to do a placement abroad. Though she was not sure how she would manage it. She wanted to travel as part of her studies, but did not have the resources to finance the trip herself. For Lakhani, the QES program was the perfect fit.

The vision for QES -the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship – is to mobilize a dynamic community of young global leaders to create lasting impacts both at home and abroad through inter-cultural exchanges encompassing international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences.

Scholars are selected by their home universities to contribute to existing projects with partner universities abroad to address important local, national, and global issues.

Lakhani had worked in Kenya before, and was hoping to do a placement there to further her research into Kenya’s recent curriculum reforms. And while QES allowed her to do that, her placement working with a professor at the University of Nairobi unexpectedly changed the course of her research, and her career goals.

Kenya has two of the largest refugee camps in the world: the Dadaab Refugee Complex in the east, and Kakuma in the northwest. Both camps have been in existence for more than 20 years, and some refugee families who first settled there in the 1990s are now raising children and grandchildren there. Providing adequate education is a constant challenge.

“There needs to be more investment in education [for refugees,]” Lakhani explained. “These are not temporary situations. We can’t leave people behind.”

Lakhani’s placement gave her the opportunity to do research in the area of refugee education, and gave her a first-hand perspective of how these challenges can impact a country that hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees.

“I now want to pursue my career in education in emergencies and refugee education,” she said.

Refugee crises often begin with political and economic turmoil. When citizens of those countries have to flee for their own safety, their opportunities for education are all but eliminated.

“How are you going to rebuild a country and develop leaders if only one per cent of global refugees have access to post-secondary education?” Lakhani asked. “Education provides the capacity to return home and rebuild your country.”

In addition to doing research, Lakhani had the opportunity to present her earlier research into Kenya’s curriculum reforms at two academic conferences, one in Embu, a more rural area. It was her first time presenting her research.

“The QE scholarship gave me the open door to be there at the right time to present my work to the people who were most interested in it.”

“This is the experience people need to have, to understand, to learn, to contribute,” she said of her QES placement. Experiences like this are “the most memorable and the most beneficial, especially for young Canadians.”

Since returning home from her three-month placement in July, Lakhani is keen to ensure her colleagues at OISE seek out similar opportunities.

“My goal is to talk about the [QES] program and tell colleagues to explore opportunities for internships or research opportunities abroad,” she said. “It’s an invaluable opportunity for Canadians to go abroad.”

When asked about her future plans, Lakhani says she will complete her MEd, then seek out career opportunities in her field.

“I don’t think I have one single, narrow path,” Lakhani said. “My path is growing wider.”

As a result of her research, she aspires to engage with organizations working in education in emergencies. But mostly, she hopes to deepen her knowledge of refugee education, and make a positive impact in the world.

“I’m still digging. I’m still learning,” she said.

* * * * * * *

The world is changing, and Canada needs its youth and future leaders to be equipped with global fluency to prosper. However, only 3.1 per cent of Canadian students per year go abroad on international study programs or exchanges, one of the lowest numbers among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

The Rideau Hall Foundation is proud to collaborate with Universities Canada and Community Foundations of Canada on the Queen Elizabeth Scholars program. Together we are helping to nurture young Canadians into global citizens while promoting Canada as a destination for the world’s top talent and attracting top talent and international research leaders to Canada.

Queen Elizabeth Scholars Phase 3 – Awarded Projects

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See below the complete list of the winning proposals for the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Program (QES 2017).

Mount Royal University Alberta Sport Leaders International Internship Program
University of Ontario Institute of Technology Ontario Incubating Global Careers as Queen Elizabeth Scholars
St. Francis Xavier University Nova Scotia Immersion Service Learning in Ghana
Wilfrid Laurier University Ontario Laurier-Ghana Partnership for Human Rights, Criminology, and Social Justice
University of the Fraser Valley British Columbia
Capacity Building for Policy and Planning in Kenya, Tanzania and India: A Focus on Food Systems and Urban Growth Management
University of Victoria British Columbia ASEAN Internship: Experience, Networking and Community (ENC) Program
Université de Montréal Quebec Renforcement d’un réseau mondial de jeunes leaders engagés pour le développement des communautés
University of New Brunswick New Brunswick Addressing Health and Environmental Challenges from a Youth Perspective in Malawi and the Caribbean
McMaster University Ontario Queen Elizabeth Scholars in Strengthening Health and Social Systems
University of Alberta Alberta Securing Our Shared Global Future: Student Leadership for Change
University of Toronto (Scarborough) Ontario Building Collaborative Learning Communities for Global Development and Justice
University of Calgary Alberta Young Leaders in International Development
Simon Fraser University British Columbia Interns and Scholars for a Sustainable World
Vancouver Island University British Columbia Building Resilience in Coastal Communities (BRiCC) Knowledge Network
University of Manitoba Manitoba Promoting Community-University Partnerships in Global and Indigenous Health
Queen’s University Ontario Building innovative, community-driven solutions for people with disabilities
University of Waterloo Ontario International Internships for University of Waterloo Students in Energy Access Social Enterprises
University of Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island Integrating Innovative Research & Training for Improved Sustainable Livelihoods of Smallholder Dairy Farms – Phase 2
Université du Québec à Trois Rivières Quebec Formation scientifique d’étudiants indiens pour la recherche en énergie durable et en sciences biomédicales – volet 2
University of Saskatchewan Saskatchewan Experiential learning for the One Health/Planetary Health professional: A focus on Canadian and African communities-at-risk

Read the full media release here.