Journalist and social activist Dr. Rita Deverell is among 10 accomplished Canadians from a broad spectrum of professional backgrounds appointed to personally mentor promising doctoral students who have received the prestigious Trudeau Foundation scholarship.
The mentors will provide a unique reality check to the research conducted by the Trudeau scholars, ensuring the work is actionable and applicable to the needs and concerns of Canadians.
“To be appointed a Trudeau mentor is a great honour,” said Deverell, a former University of Regina journalism professor. “When I immigrated to Canada from the United States in 1967, Pierre Trudeau was the Minister of Justice. Within a few months, he was Prime Minister. I was dazzled that I had landed in a country that elected as its leader someone who was not only brilliantly intelligent, but concerned about social justice, peace and human dignity.
“For me, being a refugee from both the civil rights battles and the Vietnam War, Trudeau was and remains a miracle. I can certainly embrace the themes of the Trudeau Foundation – responsible citizenship, Canada and the world, people and the natural environment and human rights and dignity – with total commitment.”
The Nancy’s Chair in Women Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Deverell has a long standing track record of influencing diversity issues in Canadian society. In 1988, she responded to the need for more diverse television by co-founding Vision TV, a multi-faith and multicultural broadcaster. She helped to build the channel because of the hurdles and obstacles she and some of her colleagues faced in the broadcasting industry.
She was also head of News and Current Affairs at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, the founding Chair of the Advisory Board of Canadian Multicultural Radio, an adjudicator-at-large for the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and a Media Awareness Network board member.
Deverell holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Adelphi University, a Masters in History of Religions from Columbia University and doctorate in Curriculum from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, and was the first woman to lead a journalism program in Canada in her position as Director of the School of Journalism at the University of Regina in the 1980s.
In addition, Deverell has produced, directed, written or acted in several theatre pieces and television dramas and she was recognized in 2005 with the Order of Canada for her pioneering work in journalism.
She was a CanWest Global Fellow at the University of Western Ontario in 2007 and a Storyteller in Residence at Centennial College’s Centre for Creative Communications three years ago.
Deverell was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2002.
Trudeau Foundation president Pierre-Gerlier Forest said the quality of the Trudeau mentors reflects the momentum of the program and the depth of Canada’s expertise in all spheres of pubic life.
“In addition to sharing their knowledge and perspective, Trudeau mentors accelerate the careers of Trudeau scholars by welcoming them as colleagues and introducing them to valuable professional and social networks,” he added.
Trudeau mentors are offered a $20,000 honorarium and a further $15,000 is available to cover the cost of participating in program activities.
The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation was established in 2001 by family, friends and colleagues as a living memorial to the former Canadian Prime Minister who served from April 1968 to June 1979 and again from March 1980 to June 1984.
He died 11 years ago.