RRU celebrates Women’s History Month

Press Release

October 20, 2023

October is Women’s History Month and this month, Royal Roads University is paying special tribute to changemaking women in our community doing incredible things. From transforming cancer care for young people to preserving an ancestral Indigenous language for future generations, Royal Roads students, staff, faculty, and alumni are exactly what our world needs.

We’re recognizing just a few of these incredible women who embody this year’s theme, Through Her Lens: Celebrating the Diversity of Women, which focuses on celebrating the contributions of women from diverse backgrounds.

Fitting in comes at a cost for South Asian-Canadians

Mina Sahota knows intimately the push, pull and pressures faced by second-generation South Asian Canadians — they’ve been part of her life since she was a child.

Her parents emphasized the importance of their culture and values, but taught her to keep her head down, work hard and ignore the racism she encountered to succeed in the dominant Caucasian culture.

And now, Sahota, a Royal Roads University Doctor of Business Administration student who also holds a Master of Arts in Leadership Studies from RRU, is the recipient of a Doctoral Scholarship for Research on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to explore “the experiences of inclusion and belonging for second-generation, South Asian-Canadian women working in BC workplaces.”

Read her story.

RRU researcher receives $250K to transform cancer care for young people

Each year in Canada, 8,300 young people aged 15 to 39 are diagnosed with cancer. Such a diagnosis almost always coincides with major life transitions such as completing post-secondary education, building a career, establishing partnerships, or starting families.

These transitions make it extra challenging for young adults to navigate cancer and seek the distinct care and support they require. Survival rates for young adults with cancer have not improved like those for children and older adults. Only 0.4% of research funding in Canada is dedicated to young adult cancer, and there is limited care appropriate to their life stage.

Read about MA in Leadership Assoc. Prof. Dr. Cheryl Heykoop’s $250,000 New Frontiers in Research Fun grant that aims to address these challenges by bringing together young adults with lived experience of cancer with the disciplines of health sciences and the performing arts.

RRU doctoral student creates Dëne Sųłıné digital dictionary

A Royal Roads University doctoral student is helping create a digital dictionary to preserve her mother’s ancestral language for generations to come.

Through her Doctor of Social Sciences program, Shawna Yamkovy develops strategies to retain and rejuvenate Dëne Sųłıné yati, much of it lost due to residential schools. Fewer than 10 per cent of the 800 people on the band list still speak Dëne Sųłıné.

Read more about her work to help revitalize this language through a digital resource for the community.

April Hicke raises a “Toast” to women in tech

Tech industry workforces are notoriously male-dominated. Not only is it difficult for women to get jobs in tech, they’re often offered lower pay than their male peers when hired.

That’s one of the reasons April Hicke, who holds a Graduate Certificate in Corporate Social Innovation from Royal Roads, co-founded Toast, a membership-based women’s collective in favour of women in tech.

Read more.

How do you help victims of gender-based violence during a disaster?

When floods, wildfires, storms — even pandemics — hit a community hard, the impact can be even more profound for people who experience unstable relationships and experience gender-based violence.

Research by two Royal Roads University Master of Arts in Disaster and Emergency Management alumni, Alex Valoroso (2015) and Carmin O’Neal (2017), found that emergency management planning at all levels of non-profits to governments, also needs to include a plan to ensure responses are equitable and services are accessible no matter what the challenge.

These disaster and emergency alumni have some ideas.

RRU gardener Emma Lansdowne digs into history and colonialism

When you think of gardening, you may think of plants and seeds, soils, fertilizers and sunshine, and the colourful flowers or healthy vegetables produced by all the digging, tending and watering.

When Emma Lansdowne thinks of gardening — and she thinks about it a lot — she thinks of histories and cultures, plantations and slaves, colonialism and rebellion.

Read about her research, which looks at garden spaces and practices in “colonial contact zones,” which she defines as “spaces where disparate cultures meet and relations of power are negotiated.”

Iman Kassam: Modern media needs a makeover

As a CTV Montreal video journalist, Iman Kassam knows the highs and lows of modern-day news broadcasting.

During her 12 years working in the industry, she witnessed a decline in local news organizations and mass layoffs in the field. Kassam was left wondering what the future could hold for traditional media.

“I’m going back to school to try to answer some of these philosophical and fundamental questions of how we do better as journalists,” says Master of Arts in Professional Communication student Kassam. “We’re seeing that philosophically, the model of journalism that exists isn’t working for the next generation.”

Learn more about her work to find out how traditional forms of media can adapt to reach younger, more diverse audiences. 

“I had this feeling that somebody out there needed the money.”

RRU alum Siobhan Calderbank’s contribution to a Master of Arts in Leadership bursary at Royal Roads University started with a kitchen table discussion and her gut instinct.

“A lot of individuals who come from racialized families, they don’t want to talk about having to have help when it comes to education,” she explains. “There’s a pride that’s associated with being able to do it yourself and not needing help. Then that bars you from being able to move forward.

Read her story.


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