Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue

The Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue is presented every second year to an individual who has demonstrated excellence in the use of dialogue to increase mutual understanding and advance complex public issues. The award includes funds to cover recipient transportation and associated programming costs, as well as a CAD 10,000 cash award.

There is something more important than information. Values are far more important, and it is by understanding common values that decisions are made. We come to understand values through dialogue.

—Dr. Jack P. Blaney, President Emeritus, Simon Fraser University

Why Nominate

Far more than a simple ceremony, the Blaney Award includes short programming in Canada that builds upon the recipient’s work. Past Blaney Award programs have engaged thousands of participants through the hosting of international announcements, book launches, capacity building workshops, participatory research and more.

Through the Award programming we hope to:

  • Honour the recipients and their excellence in the use of dialogue.
  • Provide platforms to support and further the recipient’s work.
  • Communicate the role of dialogue in creating systemic change.
  • Serve communities to leave legacies of relationships, networks and opportunities.

Nomination Details

Submissions for the 2021/22 year are now closed.

Selection Criteria:

  • Demonstrated excellence in the use of dialogue to increase mutual understanding.
  • Global significance of their work in addressing complex and profound public issues.
  • Related programming opportunities.

For 2021/22 year, the selection committee encourages nominations for individuals* committed to systems change advancing anti-racism through dialogue.

* Although the award has been historically awarded to a single individual, nominators may suggest teams of individuals who’s collective work warrants recognition.

Selection Committee's Statement on Anti-Racism

The Selection Committee commits to the continued learning that this moment in history demands of us. The committee will apply an anti-racist, justice and equity lens throughout the selection process, meaning that we will identify and challenge structures and practices that perpetuate harm. In reviewing nominations, the selection committee will use an intersectional lens to consider the layered social context through which nominations are submitted and positioned. All programming associated with the award will be structured to create reciprocity in relationships with the recipient(s) and participating communities.

Selection Committee Members

  • Ahmed Lelamo
  • Alice Muthoni Murage
  • Ann Cowan
  • Ellen Woodsworth
  • Ginger Gosnell-Myers
  • Jackie Wong
  • Lis Welch
  • Paola Ardiles
  • Robert Daum
  • Shaheen Nanji

Submission Guidelines

The Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue Selection Committee will consider public nominations for the 2021/22 recipient, in addition to internally identified nominees.

Completing a full nomination form is not mandatory to suggest potential recipients, but completion of the full nomination form will increase the likelihood the nominee will be fully considered. We welcome nominees from all geographic locations and backgrounds, including youth.

We ask that all nominations be succinct and provide links or references to secondary resources to help the Selection Committee evaluate the suitability of the candidate. The Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue reserves the right to perform independent research when evaluating nominations.

Submissions for the 2021/22 year are now closed.

Past Recipients

2019/20: Sheila (Siila) Watt-Cloutier for her international leadership in the use of dialogue in her work as an advocate for Indigenous, environmental, and cultural rights. Siila is a respected Inuit leader and a world-renowned environmental, climate change, and human rights advocate.

2017/18 Alice Wairimu Nderitu for her outstanding work as an armed conflict mediator and use of dialogue to promote women in leadership and peacebuilding, multiculturalism and education in conflict prevention, and prevention of human rights violations and genocide. Alice is currently an armed conflict mediator and Adviser to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue on Africa and was appointed Commissioner of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in Kenya.

2015/16: Professor Tim Flannery for using dialogue and authentic engagement to build global consensus for action around the critical issue of climate change. Professor Flannery is a globally renowned scientist whose writing has inspired millions. His achievements include chairing the Copenhagen Climate Council and founding the Australian Climate Council. 

2013/14: Chief Robert Joseph for his tireless work to renew relationships among Canada’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Chief Joseph is a Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, Ambassador for Reconciliation Canada, and Special Advisor to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, among other distinctions. 

2011/12: Karen Armstrong for a lifetime of outstanding achievement advancing understanding about world religions and promoting compassion as a way of life. Ms. Armstrong is the founder of the Charter for Compassion, a document that applies shared moral priorities to foster greater global understanding. 

2009/10: Liz Lerman for a lifetime of outstanding leadership, creativity, and dedication to melding dialogue with dance. A choreographer and interdisciplinary artist, Ms. Lerman's honors include a 2002 MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellowship. Her work has been commissioned by the Lincoln Center, Harvard Law School, and Kennedy Center, among others. 

2005: Mary Robinson for outstanding courage, leadership, and commitment to dialogue. Ms. Robinson is one of the world’s leading advocates for human rights, having served as the President of Ireland, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, and Executive Director of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative. 

2002: Maurice Strong for leading international environmentalist. Mr. Strong served as Secretary General of the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and the 1992 Rio Environmental Summit, as well as the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 

History of the Award

The Jack P. Blaney Endowment Fund was established at Simon Fraser University in September 2000 by friends and colleagues to honour then-President Dr. Jack P. Blaney. Dr. Blaney’s leadership and vision that were pivotal to the conception and building of the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, a unique physical space to convene dialogues on global issues and build consensus to resolve major conflicts. This international conference centre has helped to inspire a legacy of dialogue-based programming, both within the university and community-at-large.

The Endowment Fund supports the Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue and provides operating expenses to fund the presentation of the award every second year. The award includes a $10,000 cash prize, international travel expenses for the recipient, an award presentation ceremony and acceptance speech, one or more public dialogue events organized by Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue in consultation with the award recipient, and related program costs. All award programming and events normally occur in Vancouver, Canada.

What is Dialogue?

Dialogue is a concentrated conversation among equals. It offers helpful ways to work together cooperatively, encourages mutual understanding between diverse perspectives, and leads to stable, resilient outcomes.

Dialogue involves engaging in collaborative inquiry into a central topic. Productive dialogue is entered with a spirit of curiosity, an interest in continually learning from and with others, and a willingness to be changed. Instead of arguing, convincing and advocating for what one already knows, dialogue encourages one to enter a space of the unknown: exploring diverse experiences and values, as well as points of agreement and disagreement.