Selected Awards, Honours and Pioneering Initiatives

  • Research Associate, Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University, Montreal 2014-2017
  • First O’Brien Fellow in Residence at McGill University 2012
  • Profiled in Who’s Who in Black Canada 2002, 2006, 2010.
  • National Film Board of Canada Citation Award 2008.
  • 2006-2007 Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Scholar Award2006.
  • United States of America Secretary of State Research Funding Summer 2005.
  • Dalhousie University Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) Research Grant Winter 2005.
  • Public Tribute Event in recognition of my tenure as First James Robinson
    Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies
    Halifax, January 2004.
  • First James Robinson Johnston Endowed Chair in Black Canadian Studies 1996-2002.
  • Heritage Canada – Department of Multiculturalism Project Funding 2001.
  • Human Resources and Development Canada (HRDC) Project Funding 2001.
  • LLD. Honoris causa Concordia University, Montreal, June 1997
  • LLD. Honoris causa CUNY , New York, USA, December 1996
  • Recipient of House of Commons Certificates of Recognition presented by the Honourable Jean Augustine, M.P. (January 1997).
  • Recipient of Certificate of Appreciation awarded by the Public Prosecution Service of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (September 27th 1996).
  • Honored at a Public Tribute Dinner and awarded a Plaque of Recognition by the Coloured Women’s Club of Montreal for personal and professional contributions to the Montreal Community. Montreal, June 1996.
  • Recipient of International Certificate of Appreciation awarded by the Global Conference, “Pacific Women: Culture, Identity & Self-Determination, Honolulu, Hawai’i (July 1995); Certificate of Appreciation awarded by the 8th World Conference of Black Women, Johannesburg, South Africa. (August, 1998).
  • Profiled in Ces 350 femmes qui ont bâti Montréal / Those 350 Women Who Built Montreal (Montréal : Presses Remue-ménage, 1994).
  • Profiled in L’Agenda des Femmes (Montréal: Presses Remue-ménage, 1993).
  • Recipient of Quebec Woman of the Year Award for Humanitarian and Social Action, Le Salon de la Femme, Montreal, Quebec, 1991.
  • One of Official spokespersons designated to welcome Nelson and Winnie Mandela and Walter and Albertina Sisulu during Visits of State, Montreal, 1990.
  • Cited in 100 Outstanding Black Canadians, Toronto, 1990.
  • Responsible for conceptualizing, developing and teaching first university-accredited course on Black Women’s Studies Black Women: The Missing Pages from Canadian Women’s Studies, Concordia 1983, 1988.
  • Expert Witness called before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Prosecution of Donald Marshall Jr., Halifax, Nova Scotia, November, 1988.
  • One of only five (5) Canadian law students selected to participate in an unprecedented Comparative Human Rights Law Judicial Training Programme, Strasbourg, France, Summer 1983.
  • Selected as an official delegate to represent Canada at the XI World Festival of Youth and Students, Cuba 1978.
  • Recipient of Cloutier Plan Study Sabbatical for Teachers of French, McGill University, Montreal 1977.
  • Recipient of Best Summer School Student in Spanish Award College de Maisonneuve / Université de Montréal, Cuenca, Spain 1975.
  • 1996: Honorary Doctor of Laws (CUNY)
  • Recipient of First Jackie Robinson Scholarship, Kiwanis Club of Montreal, 1967.
  • Recipient of Montreal Negro Alumni Group Scholarships 1965, 1966.
  • Recipient of Protestant School Board of Greater Montreal Scholarships 1964, 1965, 1963, 1962, 1961.
  • Recipient of Negro Community Centre Music Scholarships 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964.

Pioneering Initiatives

Over the course of her lifetime, a convergence of conviction, commitment, and creative energy have led Esmeralda Thornhill to pioneer a number of initiatives that have proven to be ground-breaking in such diverse areas as Post Secondary Curriculum, Public Education, ‘Race’ Literacy in the Legal Profession and Anti-racism Advocacy and Policy.

  • Black Identity in Pushkin Dalhousie University, 2005
    Co-developed and Co-taught the first university Afro-centric course on Aleksandr Sergeevich in Russian Studies, at Dalhousie University
  • Let’s Meet the Lawyers! – Barreau du Québec 1994-1996
    Conceptualized, developed and implemented the Outreach Project, Let’s Meet the Lawyers, an Affirmative Initiative sponsored by the Barreau du Québec, and targeting public school students. The Project’s purpose was to demystify the Law and present it as a viable career option for all racialized boys and girls and all girls.
  • Singled Out By Law for Unequal Treatment – Public Legal Seminar 1990-1991
    Conceptualized, developed and piloted to fruition during my tenure as national President of the Congress of Black Women of Canada a series of three (3) Public Legal Seminars realized in collaborative partnership with the Chinese Canadian National Council. Held place in Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver, the Seminars were geared to bringing more visibility to the Head Tax Regress Campaign, “It’s Only Fair” and educating the public about Canada’s historic state-sponsored racism against its Chinese population.
  • Bringing February Black History Month to the Public Space – Quebec Human Rights Commission, Montreal 1989
    Conceptualized, developed, rationalized and initiated the process to start institutionalizing FBHM as an integral part of both Quebec Human Rights Commission and Quebec provincial public policy.
  • Black Women: The Missing Pages from Canadian Women’s Studies – Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University 1983
    Conceptualized, developed and taught the first university accredited course on Black Women’s Studies offered in Canada.
  • Recommendation for an Amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada, 1988
    Racism exists as a material reality in Canada and even in our legal institutions. Racism is palpable and provable. It is high time we recognize and acknowledge the existence of Racism as a social problem, a societal problem crying out for a place on the Legal Public Policy Agenda:

    “Our Criminal Code already recognizes, condemns, and sanctions attacks against persons and property. The time has come for the Canadian Criminal Code to recognize, condemn, and sanction Racism and Racial Discrimination. From now on, the Criminal Code should explicitly stipulate that any crime against persons or property of a racial nature should constitute aggravated offences and should make provision for stiffer penalties.”

    Recommendation submitted to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Prosecution of Donald Marshall Jr., Halifax, November 1988. (In Esmeralda M.A. Thornhill, “Focus on Racism: Legal Perspectives From a Black Experience”. Legal Judicial Awareness: Race, Culture and the Courts. Volume of Reference Materials (Ottawa:National Judicial Institute, March 1995) [English Translation of the French original in “Regard sur le racisme: perspectives juridiques partir d’un vécu noir, » 14 6:1 Revue Femmes et droit (1993): La sensibilisation de la magistrature aux problèms raciaux et culturels auxquels font face les tribunaux. Recueil de documents. Ottawa: L’Institut national de la magistrature, 1995: Bulletin de l’ICAJ, décembre 1996.)

  • In Our Lifetime! – Annual August 9th Solidarity Rally to Commemorate South African Women’s Day – Montreal 1981
    Annual Commemorative Fund-raising Anti-Apartheid August 9th Solidarity Rally to Commemorate August 9th South African Women’s Day.

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