SHERPA gets new Scientific Director

Meeting facilitation at SHERPA
Meeting facilitation at SHERPA

Congratulations to Dr. Jilly Hanley, Associate Professor of Social Work at McGill University, who was recently appointed as the Scientific Director of SHERPA. She replaces Dr. Cecile Rousseau, who completed two terms in the position.

Dr. Hanley’s research focuses on social rights for individuals whose immigration status is uncertain, in particular with regard to employment, housing, and access to health services. This makes her an ideal fit to lead SHERPA, where academic research intersects with the lived experiences of immigrants and refugees. Funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec Société et Culture and the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, SHERPA is an important connecter between researchers, social service providers, and the population served by CIUSSS West-Central Montreal, whose territory encompasses the city’s most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods.

“I’ve always sought a practical application for my research, and SHERPA encourages scholarship that benefits front-line practitioners,” said Dr. Hanley, who has been involved with SHERPA since its inception.

Another prominent element of SHERPA’s contribution has been to engage in public policy advocacy. At a moment when issues connected with immigration are prominent in the political arena, Dr. Hanley expresses her conviction that the research community can play an important role in policy debates.

“I want this to remain among our objectives as a research centre,” she emphasizes. “We want to maintain our public profile and use our research to influence policy decisions.”

Last year, SHERPA held a press conference in collaboration with the RAPS (Radicalization and Social Polarization) research team in response to the Quebec government’s adoption of Bill 21, which restricts public servants from displaying religious symbols. Since content analysis counters a lot of angry anti-immigrant rhetoric, Dr. Hanley feels that it is particularly important to bring attention to SHERPA’s research. At the same time, she points out, the Quebec government has responded positively in directing resources to assist the growing numbers of refugees crossing on foot from the United States and those who have arrived from Syria.

Among her plans is to extend training programs for practitioners and to reach out to professional orders so that SHERPA training modules may be recognized for credit as part of their members’ professional development.

SHERPA wants to engage with more practitioners who have an interest in research, and would like to keep informed of the latest studies. More information is available.