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VPA’s Catherine Dauvergne talks about the work that led to the Royal Society of Canada

November 22, 2021
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Before she became Simon Fraser University’s Vice-President, Academic and Provost, and even before she took on the role of Dean for the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, Catherine Dauvergne was a legal scholar.

A researcher who was drawn to migration law because of what it says about a nation’s identity. How we treat migrants, how we police our international borders, these are the questions that say a lot about us as a country, Dauvergne says.

And it’s her exploration of these themes throughout her career that recently earned her Canada’s highest academic honour when she became one of 11 SFU scholars named this year to the Royal Society of Canada.

“It is a special honour, it recognizes the whole arc of a scholar’s work,” Dauvergne said recently in her office on SFU’s Burnaby campus. “It’s humbling and an honour to be nominated as an administrator because it says something about the kind of administrators SFU wants to have.”

Over the past 25 years in Canada, and other parts of the world, migration law has become mostly about keeping people out, she explains.

And while she is more than busy enough these days overseeing a safe return to campus for students, faculty and staff, it’s not lost on her the questions that a global pandemic is raising at international borders.

“I’m not tired of the questions, I still have a lot of questions. The pandemic is a time when I’ve missed being a researcher as so much is happening at our borders,” she says.

The Royal Society of Canada awards fellowships to peer-elected and distinguished individuals who have made significant contributions and impacts in their fields. Dauvergne is an internationally recognized socio-legal scholar. Her feminist analyses have changed our perceptions of borders as places where human rights and citizenship are contested.

She has written three books that take a broad perspective on the theories behind the interrelated fields that make up border law, including how human rights fit into a migration and citizenship framework.

She is also an editor or co-author of five other volumes, including Canada’s immigration and refugee law casebook. She has intervened in Canadian migration policy and practice and shaped emerging generations of lawyers and legal scholars