Using sport to challenge attitudes helps land Trudeau Scholarship

(Edmonton) Paralympian, world champion and world MVP in wheelchair basketball are just a few of Danielle Peers’ accomplishments.

Now the graduate student in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta can add Trudeau Scholar to her already impressive resumé.

Known to many as “Doc” Peers, she has been awarded the prestigious $180,000 Trudeau scholarship and joins a community of creative, accomplished thinkers and doers tackling issues of fundamental importance to Canadians.

Peers’ research includes assessing how the perceptions held by Canadians influence the rights and opportunities of disabled citizens, and how the images of disabled athletes like Rick Hansen or Terry Fox influence these perceptions and rights. She says, “I am truly excited about being part of this collaborative, community-oriented program.”

For Peers, being a Trudeau Scholar means spending much more time and energy on doing research and disseminating it, rather than finding the funds for it.

“The funding [from the Trudeau scholarship] allows me to spend time in, and stay connected to, the vibrant disability and disability-sport communities in which I work as an activist, coach and volunteer, which in turn fuels my academic interest and knowledge in the area,” she said.

Interaction in non-academic situations, including public policy networks and public forums, is a key component of the Trudeau scholarship program. Peers notes the various Trudeau conferences and public interaction programs are some of the things that make this scholarship stand out.

“These [conferences and programs] help scholars engage collaboratively in exciting new multi-disciplinary ways, looking at how they produce knowledge, while helping the scholars’ research reach other scholars, students and, importantly, policymakers, practitioners and members of the public, who can help turn these new ideas into new ways of thinking and acting, ” said Peers.

She is the seventh U of A graduate student to be chosen for the Trudeau scholarship since the scholarship’s inception in 2002. But she is no stranger to awards: Peers is also a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar and a U of A alumni Horizon Award Winner. Peers holds a bachelor of arts degree in sociology and a master’s in physical education and recreation. She is currently working on her PhD in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the U of A as a member of the Body, Movement and Culture Research Group.

Zoe Todd, a social anthropologist who received a bachelor of science (2006)  and a master’s of science (2010) at the U of A, received  a Trudeau Scholarship to examine the impact of mining development in the Northwest Territories on women's subsistence fishing. Todd is doing her research at the University of Aberdeen, U.K.

Trudeau scholarships are among the most coveted awards of their kind in Canada and are granted to social sciences and humanities students who are examining matters of present-day concern to Canadians in key areas such as the environment, international affairs, responsible citizenship and human rights and dignity. Many Trudeau Scholars go on to become leading national and international figures.

In addition to the generous financial prize, Trudeau Scholars benefit from the expertise and knowledge of Trudeau Fellows and Mentors, highly accomplished individuals in the Trudeau community who are leaders in both academic and non-academic settings.

Promise Site Story:
A different look at disability: Athletic champion, filmmaker, Vanier scholar, U of A alumna and PhD candidate Danielle Peers is curious about the relationship between social justice movements and disability sport.