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Maureen Owino awarded prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

Maureen Owino awarded prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

Maureen Owino, environmental studies

Maureen Owino

Owino’s research, titled "When HIV and COVID-19 Pandemics Collide in Black Communities in Canada," confronts issues relating to pandemic responses that impact already vulnerable communities.

Through institutional ethnography, the research will examine the cumulative impacts of existing and emerging social and public health policies on Black people’s health and well-being in Canada. “It will do so by: 1. Tracking the rapidly changing health and public policy landscape in Canada; 2. Using critical feminist and race theories to analyze, compare and contrast COVID-19 and HIV containment and mitigation strategies; and 3. Examining how these policies address, reify, challenge, and uphold existing health inequities from the perspective of Black people living with and at risk of pandemics in Canada,” says Owino of her research.

This research is vital, as it exposes how pandemics reveal inequities in health outcomes for vulnerable communities who also face racism, sexism, homophobia and poverty, which create acute conditions for these vulnerable populations. The findings will be accessible to a diverse audience base through a collaboration with Black organizations, community members, researchers, activists and scholars.

“Whereas most Canadians are reeling from the impact of COVID-19, Black people also remain in an HIV pandemic zone and must deal with the impact of both pandemics simultaneously,” says Owino. “This structural inequities creates conditions of vulnerability that are increased by barriers to effective and timely health care, and increases the Black communities' risks to future pandemics.”

In addition to being a dedicated scholar who promotes these vital social causes, Owino also shows exemplary leadership skills. She is the director of the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment and a member of the Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS.

"Both Debbie Ebanks Schlums and Maureen Owino are outstanding examples of Vanier Scholars through their innovative research and dedication to the community," says Loebel.