This story is featured in the Spring 2016 issue of Showcase: The Champions of Change Issue. » View the complete publication
As Maddy Macnab debated where to pursue her graduate degree, Trent University quickly became the top contender.
“I was drawn to Trent by the quality and thematic focus of the Canadian & Indigenous Studies program, the friendly and welcoming atmosphere at Traill College, and the tight-knit academic community I sensed at the Frost Centre for Canadian & Indigenous Studies,” notes Ms. Macnab, adding that it’s the funding support that she received from Trent that helped seal the deal, and allowed her to pursue her goal of conducting research that is grounded in community and tied to community need.
As a first-year masters student, Ms. Macnab was offered the Ontario Graduate Scholarship and was also chosen to receive Trent’s prestigious Alan Wilson Graduate Entrance Scholarship, a competitive entrance scholarship offered to outstanding graduate students in the Canadian Studies Ph.D., History M.A., and Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies M.A programs. The scholarship is inspired by Dr. Alan Wilson, professor emeritus and founding chair of both Canadian Studies and History at Trent University.
“The scholarships I received from Trent have allowed me to make my studies and research my central focus, which is a real privilege,” said Ms. Macnab. “I'm grateful to Trent for the support.”
Placement powers opportunity
With the funding in place to support her research, Ms. Macnab turned to the Trent Community Research Centre to take her research into the real-world. The Centre, which serves as an independent facilitator bringing academics, researchers and Trent students together to work on supervised community-based research projects, gave Ms. Macnab the opportunity to explore her research options outside the classroom.
“The Trent Community Research Centre was able to match me with a proposed project from the New Canadians Centre that was a good fit with my interests and skills,” stated Ms. Macnab. “It has always been important to me to be engaged with the community where I'm living, and to put my energies back into that community. I think a lot of people share that feeling. Working for change with other folks in my community in various ways has always been a great source of positive energy and an amazing learning experience.”
Community benefits from student success
Thanks to the perfect match by the Trent Community Research Centre, Ms. Macnab is now researching the founding and early operational history of the New Canadians Centre (NCC). Originally known as the Peterborough Newcomers Language and Orientation Committee, the NCC was founded by volunteers in 1979 following the arrival of Vietnamese refugees in Peterborough. Now serving over 800 new Canadians each year, the non-profit charitable organization continues to welcome and support newcomers to the local area.
Under the supervision of Dr. Joan Sangster, professor of History and Women’s Studies, Ms. Macnab’s work will rely on oral histories of former staff and volunteers as well as former refugees and immigrants who may have used the NCC’s services between the 1970s and 1990s.
As the global refugee migration dominates headlines, Ms. Macnab’s research and compilation of first-hand accounts will provide accurate documentation, and vivid historical context to today’s humanitarian crisis.