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Northern advocate

PhD researcher named a prestigious Trudeau Scholar for 2020

Research

By Jeff Green

An award-winning PhD student and Memorial alumna is among a select group of researchers chosen to receive lucrative three-year scholarships from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Christina Goldhar says she’s “thrilled and incredibly grateful” to be named a 2020 Trudeau Scholar. Her research investigates the relationship between housing insecurity and homelessness in the Canadian North, public policy and governance.

“I believe I yelled out ‘No’! A couple of times,” Ms. Goldhar told the Gazette during an interview. “A goofy reaction perhaps but it was hard to believe what I was reading. I was very surprised.”

Prestigious honour

Ms. Goldhar is one of 16 dynamic and diverse scholars chosen by the foundation. Trudeau doctoral scholarships include up to $40,000 per year for three years to cover tuition and reasonable living expenses and up to $20,000 per year for three years as a research and travel allowance.

I am incredibly grateful for this scholarship and for the attention I hope it will help bring to housing insecurity, homelessness and the Canadian North.”  — Christina Goldhar

Ms. Goldhar is completing her doctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Julia Christensen, Canada Research Chair in Northern Governance and Public Policy in the Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. She completed her master’s degree under the supervision of the department’s Dr. Trevor Bell.

‘Emotional’ connection

Before pursuing her PhD, Ms. Goldhar worked with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and the Nunatsiavut Government as its director of policy and planning. She was part of the team that won an Arctic Inspiration Prize in December 2013 for a housing action plan developed in partnership with colleagues at the Nunatsiavut Government.

A Settler-Canadian of Jewish and mixed European heritage, Ms. Goldhar grew up in Toronto. She now lives with her spouse and “two bright, beautiful (and small) children,” in St. John’s, where her grandfather was born and raised.

“In many ways Newfoundland has always been a very comfortable place for me, and after completing my master’s degree here, living in Nain and then in Stockholm, returning to Memorial for doctoral studies felt like coming home,” she explained.

She says her time spent living in Nain “ignited a deeply-rooted, emotional and personal connection to these issues that drives me in my current doctoral work.”

Ms. Goldhar says in recent years, the state of housing insecurity and homelessness in northern Canada has been identified as a crisis.

“A crisis that clearly affects a disproportionate number of Indigenous people,” she added.

“My research asks why then, if we recognize the problem, does public policy continuously fail to help? What work do we need to do to bridge the gap between federal government funding priorities, the governance models used to address this issue, and the needs and priorities of Northerners? How do we resolve this?”

Grateful for recognition

Ms. Goldhar says it feels a little strange to celebrate her achievement in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic “while so many of us are living through stressful, difficult or even tragic circumstances,” but says she is honoured to receive the recognition.

“I don’t know what our new world will bring for this research, for Canada’s Northern communities, or what this will mean for our family or for all of our other communities, but I am incredibly grateful for this scholarship and for the attention I hope it will help bring to housing insecurity, homelessness and the Canadian North,” she noted.

The Trudeau Foundation says in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will develop virtual events to celebrate this year’s scholars.


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