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Dalhousie University Professor Jocelyn Downie receives prestigious Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation fellowship for end‑of‑life care research

Posted by Media on October 22, 2015 in News, Law, Research

(Halifax, NS) – Dalhousie University is please to congratulate Professor Jocelyn Downie on being awarded a research fellowship by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. Professor Downie is the first scholar at Dalhousie University, and the first in Nova Scotia to be recognized with this prestigious award. The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation fellowships recognize intellectuals in the humanities and social sciences that are finding new solutions to complex issues of major importance to Canadians. Professor Downie, an expert on end-of-life law and policy, is a professor in Dalhousie University’s Faculties of Law and Medicine, and a faculty associate of Dalhousie’s Health Law Institute. The fellowship will provide $225,000 over three years.

“We are extremely proud that the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation has recognized the contributions of Professor Downie,” says Dr. Martha Crago, vice-president of research at Dalhousie University. “The award recognizes Professor Downie’s commitment to issues that are at the heart of Canadian society. We thank her for hard work and look forward to the results that will come from her research. Awards such as this show the continued work of our university community in making a difference in the world.”

As a fellow, Professor Downie will have access to the network of researchers and practitioners who are part of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation community - 58 fellows, 106 mentors, and 187 doctoral scholars over the past 13 years.

“This is an incredible opportunity,” says Downie. “Being a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation fellow allows me to engage with bright, engaged, passionate people from different disciplines and different sectors and share ideas. I am so delighted to be a part of that and I think it will enrich my research enormously.”

Professor Downie’s fellowship work will involve the full spectrum of stakeholders to advance law and policy on palliative care, end-of-life treatments, voluntary euthanasia, and assisted suicide. Her work is particularly important in light of the recent Carter decision, in which the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the Criminal Code of Canada prohibitions on physician-assisted death.

“It’s time for us to shift and to be looking at some of the underappreciated other issues in end-of-life care that will contribute to the quality of dying in Canada,” says Downie. “I think we need to look at palliative care, we need to look at advance directives – how do we, in advance of becoming incompetent, make it clear what we want and ensure that we get the kind of treatment that we want, or we don’t get treatment that we don’t want. Ultimately, of course, this is all directed toward public policy aimed at enabling Canada to be a country that cares effectively – and deeply – for the dying.”

Downie has already begun conducting research under the Trudeau fellowship. In June, she gathered a group of international end-of-life experts in Amsterdam to discuss how to best track incidences of assisted dying in Canada. She has also updated, a website designed to make information about end-of-life law and policy available and accessible to health care providers, lawyers, the media, and the public.

For more on Professor Downie’s work please visit the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.  


Media Contact:

Janet Bryson
Senior Communications Advisor
Dalhousie University




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