Scholarship awards

Awards are a key way for the Alberta Human Rights Commission to support human rights advancements through academic research.

Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism

The Alberta Award for the Study of Canadian Human Rights and Multiculturalism provides scholarships for graduate studies in Canadian human rights or multiculturalism. There are two awards:

  • $10,000 master’s level award, also known as the Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship (named after the Commission’s former Southern Regional Director, Pardeep Gundara)
  • $15,000 doctoral level award

Graduate students can apply if they are attending an Alberta public post-secondary institution and if their studies will contribute to the advancement of human rights and multiculturalism. For application information, refer to the Alberta Student Aid website.

The award is funded through an endowment by the Human Rights Education and Multiculturalism Fund invested in the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund. The Alberta Human Rights Commission and Alberta Advanced Education jointly administer the award.


Arielle Perrotta received the doctoral-level award. Arielle’s research will examine strategies to address the ways in which colonialism, sexism, and discrimination continue to impact Indigenous maternal health. In Alberta, Indigenous women experience higher rates of adverse birth outcomes. This research will look at the barriers, challenges, and successes of Indigenous maternal health and the patient-provider maternal health experiences of Indigenous maternity care in Calgary, Alberta. The findings will be used to advocate for birth rights and safety, Indigenous midwifery, and to support Indigenous-led culturally appropriate maternal health programs to be used as tools of intervention and ultimately improve maternal-child health in urban, rural, and remote communities.

Hawra Al-Khaz’Aly received the master's-level Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship. Hawra’s research will focus on protective and risk factors in the link between trauma exposure and PTSD in Canadian refugees. This research aims to help increase understanding of the mechanisms driving this relationship and support the mental health of trauma-exposed refugees. It will explore whether racial discrimination is a risk factor and if social support is a protective factor in the relationship between trauma exposure and PTSD symptoms among refugees in Alberta. It will fill critical gaps in refugee literature, inform practitioners on the mental health needs of refugees, and inform Canadian healthcare systems, including needed investments for refugees.

Previous recipients

Marie Cecile Kotyk received the doctoral-level award. Marie Cecile's research will utilize a multi-method approach oriented in lived experience to develop a framework addressing anti-Black racism in the housing and homelessness sector. The framework developed through this research will be applied to proposed and current housing policies to identify where they can be discriminatory, adversely impacting Black Albertans. The findings from this research could raise the awareness of the housing sector and policy-makers on the experiences of Black Albertans, inform targeted policy interventions that centre Black voices, and ultimately advance Black Albertans' access to housing.

Ashmeen Aneja received the master's-level Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship. Ashmeen's research will explore the psychological help-seeking patterns of international students in Alberta. The research will employ both quantitative and qualitative methods to better understand the mental health literacy of international students, as well as the relationship between the acculturative experiences and help-seeking attitudes of international students. This research could inform schools, families, mental health professionals, and policy-makers on how to better support inclusion of international students through culturally sensitive mental health programs and services.

Lauren Alston received the doctoral level award. Lauren will utilize a multi-method approach, drawing from Youth-led Participatory Action Research methodology to examine student perspectives on Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in Alberta. This research will explore how student participation in GSA clubs is related to parental support and acceptance. The findings from this research could inform schools, families, and policymakers in creating safe and inclusive communities.

Zahra Upal received the Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship. Zahra's master's research will examine incidents of racism and discrimination faced by Muslim nurses in Alberta. Learning more about the frequency and impact of these workplace occurrences could help inform improved human rights policies and processes within the healthcare system.

Kassi Boyd received the doctoral level award. Kassi's research will explore how children with disabilities experience inclusive playgrounds. This research will bring to light the socio-cultural factors that shape inclusion at "inclusive" playgrounds. A deeper understanding of what makes an inclusive playground inclusive (or not) from the perspectives of children experiencing disability is necessary to (re)create and optimize these experiences for children across Alberta and Canada. The findings from this research could inform families, service providers, and policy makers involved with creating inclusive play spaces for ages and abilities.

Bozhena Fedynets received the Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship. Bozhena's master's research will examine the race-based experiences of ethnic minority law enforcement officers with members of the public while on duty. This research will explore officers' job satisfaction and professional identity in relation to their race-based interactions with civilians. The understanding of these relationships, along with the officers' recommendations, will inform improvements to law enforcement policy, recruitment, support, and training.

Jennifer Ward's doctoral research will further examine the decolonization and Indigenization of Alberta post-secondary institutions. This research will utilize Indigenous perspectives in creating safe, supportive, and barrier-free learning, teaching, and working environments. Jennifer's research aims to reduce racism and racialized events in the academic environment and community as a whole.

Jonathan Lai will research the risks of ageism in the workplace. This research will examine the role that worker age plays in the relationship among positive psychosocial job factors that contribute to worker engagement. Findings from this research will help inform workplace strategies that prevent age discrimination ad promote equitable human resource policies for an aging workforce. Jonathan Lai is the recipient of the 2019 Pardeep Singh Gundara Memorial Scholarship.