The Phyllis Harris Scholarship Fund builds the skills and experience of students who have volunteered or been employed in the general field of human sexuality and who intend to pursue a related career.

This legacy endowment fund honours the dedication and goals of Walter and Phyllis Harris, who were strong advocates of choice and autonomy for every person. The Harris Family created a scholarship fund to encourage future leaders in sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Students have been supported through this legacy gift for over 20 years and will continue to have access to meaningful work through funded summer placement opportunities. Action Canada is deeply grateful for the opportunity to share mentorship and expertise with developing leaders in the field who can benefit from the placements offered through the Phyllis Harris Scholarship.

As a public health nurse Phyllis volunteered with Planned Parenthood throughout her career, before abortion was even remotely legal. When interviewed in the Edmonton Journal about her 1981 volunteer award, Phyllis was asked how she became interested in this type of work.

“I personally like to plan my life and be in charge of what happens to me as far as possible. Even as a young student nurse I was appalled by the negative effects on individual and family life of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.”

Phyllis was able to give personal support through her career, then with her husband and other vitally interested people, started a chapter of Planned Parenthood to break down barriers and allow all people to make decisions about their own bodies. “Much of the activity in the early years was focused on public education to promote changes in the criminal code, which did occur in 1969.”

In the sexual and reproductive health and rights movement we “stand on the shoulders of giants,” learning from and adapting expertise built through the hard won victories of advocates, volunteers, and health workers like Phyllis and Walter Harris. As we continue pressing forward to connect movements and organizations across Canada and the world, we are honoured to help advance their goal to support future leaders in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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2018 Scholarship

This year, two Harris Scholarships are available. The successful candidates will help Action Canada grow our knowledge around the state of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Canada.

Summer 2018 Project Proposal: Comprehensive Sexuality Education – Canada’s Curricula Evaluation: 

Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is an approach to sexuality education that is fundamentally rooted in the idea that sexual and reproductive rights are human rights. CSE purposefully makes the links between sexual health and human rights, gender norms, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being, civic engagement and the social determinants of health (ISHC Working Group, 2011). Implementing best-practices of CSE is an integral part of ensuring that the overall health and wellbeing of young people is sustained throughout their lifespan.

Within Canada, the delivery of education falls under provincial/territorial jurisdiction. Provinces and Territories are responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of curricula. The absence of a standardized CSE curricula, and clear accountability mechanisms, has resulted in inconsistent implementation of CSE across the country, a lack of information on the content, acceptability and effectiveness of existing curricula and challenges in holding decision-makers accountable to quality curricula

Recent evidence suggests that there are significant gaps in the sexual health knowledge of Canadian youth.  In 2011, over one quarter of positive HIV tests were attributed to young people between the ages of 15 and 29.  According to 2010 national STI surveillance data, 63% of new cases of chlamydia, 49% of new cases of gonorrhea and 14.9% of new cases of infectious syphilis were among young people aged 15-24.  Violence against young women and girls persist at alarming rates as evidenced by research that found that young women are eight times more likely than boys to be victims of a sexual offence , nearly half (46%) of high school girls in Ontario are victims of sexual harassment , Indigenous women and girls are two and half times more likely to be a victim of violence and report more severe instances of violence than non-indigenous women and girls , and 17% of missing and murdered indigenous women are under the age of 18.

Action Canada works to address the unequitable access to high quality Comprehensive Sexuality Education, and so, is developing materials to demonstrate to stakeholders, political leaders and the public how the content of comprehensive sexuality education curricula in Canada is not consistent and generally does not include comprehensive materials that wholly support young people’s rights to information, non-discrimination, health, education, and to be free from gender-based violence.

This research project will provide Action Canada with a report presenting the results of curriculum content audits. With the help of tools developed by Action Canada, the candidate will assess content in provincial sex ed curricula according to international research and standards of best practice.

2018 Application Process

To apply, send your resume, a short statement of interest and a writing sample on a topic related to sexual and reproductive health and rights to Frederique Chabot at [email protected] by no later than Friday May 25, 2018.

Additional Information

Ideal Candidate

From Action Canada’s perspective, the ideal candidate would be someone who has a nuanced analysis of sex-positivity, human rights and anti-oppression. Ideally, the candidate would have an interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights, policy engagement, comprehensive sexuality education and advocacy. The ideal candidate would also have research experience and can work independently.  To meet the requirements of the Harris Family scholarship, the candidate must be a student (going into or continuing school in the fall), interested in a career path that aligns with the proposed project and from Action Canada’s perspective, it would be ideal to have a master’s level student in a professional program.

Proposed Deliverables (Overview)

Curriculum content research report: A compilatory report presenting the results of the assessment of sex ed curricula across Canada. For this report, each provincial and territorial sex ed curriculum will be profiled and assessed using a tool developed by Action Canada (curriculum evaluation tool). The curriculum evaluation tool was based on research completed from a previous Harris Scholarship recipient that looked at evidence compiled over the past 20 years internationally by organizations like the World Health Organisation, UNESCO, Population Council, the International Planned Parenthood Federation and numerous academics and civil society activists. A report will be prepared for each province/territory to sum up findings on how each curricula fare as it relates to each section of the evaluation tool and then compiled into a final report. The priority list of provinces and territories to assess will be developed in collaboration with the Director of Health Promotion and the Director of Governmental Relations.

Advocacy opportunities report: Mapping out entry points for advocacy in each province/territory as it relates to the evaluation and updating of CSE curricula.

Supervised By

Frederique Chabot (Director of Health Promotion) and Sarah Kennell (Director of Governmental Affairs), with support from Makeda Zook (Health Promotion and Education Officer)

Proposed Timeline and Hours

June 2018 – August 2018
160 – 200 hours

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