Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship


What Is It?

This scholarship is offered by the Government of Canada with the purpose of strengthening Canada’s attraction of world-class doctoral students. The goal is to make Canada a global center of excellence in research and higher learning. Vanier scholars demonstrate leadership and scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences, and/or engineering and health.

There are up to 166 scholarships awarded annually, with a value of $50,000 per year. The applicants must demonstrate academic excellence, research potential, and leadership to be considered for selection.

Due Date

The deadline for institutions to forward their nominations is November 6, 2019.

Application Requirements

The application package consists of multiple requirements, which are listed as:

  • ResearchNet application form
  • A CCV with research contributions
  • A 2-page personal leadership statement
  • Two leadership letters of reference
  • A research proposal
  • Project references

Who’s Eligible?

Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada and foreign citizens. According to the government website, “in order to be considered for a Vanier CGS, you must:

  • be nominated by only one Canadian institution, which must have received a Vanier CGS quota;
  • be pursuing your first doctoral degree (including joint undergraduate/graduate research program such as: MD/PhD, DVM/PhD, JD/PhD – if it has a demonstrated and significant research component). Note that only the PhD portion of a combined degree is eligible for funding;
  • intend to pursue, in the summer semester or the academic year following the announcement of results, full-time doctoral (or a joint graduate program such as: MD/PhD, DVM/PhD, JD/PhD) studies and research at the nominating institution;
  • note that only the PhD portion of a combined degree is eligible for funding;
  • not have completed more than 20 months of doctoral studies as of May 1, 2020 (see calculating months of doctoral studies below);
  • have achieved a first-class average, as determined by your institution, in each of the last two years of full-time study or equivalent. Candidates are encouraged to contact the institution for its definition of a first-class average; and
  • must not hold, or have held, a doctoral-level scholarship or fellowship from CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC to undertake or complete a doctoral degree.”

Our Thoughts

The Vanier scholarship is a prestigious award given to students who are academically inspiring. Because it is looking for students receiving their doctoral degree, it searches for individuals with high academic interest and potential. As the Government of Canada states in the Vanier scholarship description, its purpose is to strengthen Canada’s ability to maintain world-class doctoral students. Therefore, this scholarship might just be looking for the best of the best, and honours these individuals publicly. 

Applying for the Vanier scholarship is a lengthy process. It requires academic work that must be submitted. The eligibility for this scholarship also has many requirements listed. Not to mention, it contains a requirement for nomination by your Canadian institution in order to be eligible. 

Based on the feedback we received from a scholarship winner, the selection process seems highly competitive. It requires students to submit their best work and put tons of dedication into their application. 

Winner Profile

Thank you so much to Ellis Furman for taking the time to complete this short questionnaire! Student Life Network congratulates you for your achievement in winning the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship!

Who are you, and why did you apply to be nominated for this scholarship?

I am a second-year PhD student in the community psychology program at Wilfrid Laurier University. I work under the supervision of Dr. Ciann Wilson in her Access and Equity Research Group. Additionally, I work in the gender-based violence sector as a community-based researcher and have conducted research projects that seek to explore the landscape of service access for queer and trans survivors of violence, and what can be done to improve survivors’ access.

I first applied for the 2018 Vanier Scholarship and made it on the waitlist at the national level. I did a complete overhaul of my application and submitted a stronger proposal for the 2019 competition, which led me to rank in the top five for the national competition. I have paid my way through all of my post-secondary degrees with some help of funding from my graduate program, my supervisor’s research group, scholarships, and working part-time during my studies. Truthfully, receiving a Vanier Scholarship alleviates a great deal of financial stress, which allows me to allocate more time towards my dissertation. Instead of taking on multiple work contracts to make money while trying to do my schoolwork and research.

Do you have any advice for students on how to demonstrate leadership and academic excellence qualities?

Growing up in a reform Jewish family, leadership has consistently been at the forefront of my personal values and goals. Leadership and social justice are essential components of reform Judaism. I’ve been fortunate to be encouraged to engage in the ongoing work of tikkun olam; a concept defined by acts of kindness performed to repair the world through a commitment to social action. Thus, leadership for me entails promoting tikkun olam by recognizing and working towards resolving social injustices. And encouraging others to do the same. My leadership and social justice values are also influenced by my identities as a queer/transgender person. Being part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community has fueled my passion for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through my academic, research, and personal leadership endeavors.

Academic excellence can be interpreted differently from the perspectives of scholarship foundations, universities, professors, and other students. To me, academic excellence entails working hard to achieve my goals to the best of my ability. During my undergraduate degree, I thought that my grades were the only indicators of my achievement, but I realized that I perform at a higher level academically when I am engaging in work that I am passionate about. And that allows me to tackle social problems that are relevant to my community. 

My advice to other students is to take on academic and leadership opportunities that feel right. There are many volunteer opportunities I undertook during my undergraduate studies that I did not include in my scholarship application because I was not passionate about them. In fact, I only did them because I felt that it was what I was supposed to do in order to get into graduate school.

One of the hardest things to do as an emerging scholar is not to compare yourself to your peers or colleagues. Once I freed myself from that mindset, I was much more productive and happier with the work I was doing. Also, I believe that academic excellence and strong leadership skills can be attained through hard work and self-reflection. It is imperative to reflect on who you are as a person, what privileges you hold, and how you can gain feedback from others to learn and do better.

What has led you to pursue your Ph.D., and what inspires you most about your field of research?

During my undergraduate studies, I worked as a front-line service provider in the non-profit sector. Working in social services allowed me to impact the lives of individuals as a front-line worker, but I could not enact change beyond the individual level. I decided that my leadership and social justice approach would be better suited to a discipline that takes preventative and systematic approaches to solving social problems at multiple levels (i.e., individual, community, institutional, social/political context). This led me to complete my MA in Community Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. The program’s values of social justice, collaboration, diversity, transformative change, and power-sharing are well-aligned with my personal values. The Community Psychology program has been a leader in LGBTQ health and well-being research during the past decade, and in order for me to continue to be a leader in this area, I realized that I needed to continue with doctoral studies. 

As a trans person who has been impacted by gender-based violence, my personal life directly influences my current and future research. Ongoing issues of gender-based violence in the 2SLGBTQ+ community have energized me with a sense of urgency to examine and address the barriers faced by queer and trans people impacted by violence. Also, considering the lack of research conducted by trans individuals in academia, I strive to conduct meaningful and ethical research with and for my community, intentionally disseminating research within academia, the community, and through policy change.

What has been the most memorable experience throughout your academic career?

The most memorable aspect of my academic career has been working under the supervision of Dr. Ciann Wilson. I definitely would not be receiving this scholarship without having her as a mentor. She taught me how to be a strong and fierce leader, achieve academic excellence, and strive to reach my own goals and expectations. Dr. Wilson has also taught me how to stay true to myself when navigating through systems that might not align with my own values.

How do you currently envision your future? What do you hope to accomplish?

I aim to continue conducting community-based research on different aspects of gender-based violence in 2SLGBTQ+ communities. As I continue to build my research programme, I hope to begin more work on violence prevention in addition to my current work (that focuses on service access for survivors of violence). Additionally, I’m very passionate about research methods and analyses of all kinds (quantitative, qualitative, and arts-based).

What’s a fun fact about yourself?

My passion for research methods and analyses has become a permanent part of my identity. I have a ” p < .05 ” tattoo on my left arm.

Thank you for answering our questions! Congratulations once again and good luck in all of your future endeavors!