UManitoba: Psychologist to Receive Top Humanitarian Award

Apr 15, 2011 | Corporate Member News

Joan Durrant

Joan Durrant prepares to be honoured by the Canadian Red Cross as the 2011 Humanitarian of the Year 

University of Manitoba professor Joan Durrant is the recipient of this year’s Humanitarian of the Year award by the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Red Cross.  She is being recognized for her work to promote nonviolence in families and respect for the rights of our smallest and most vulnerable citizens – children. 

The Humanitarian Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated the spirit of humanity through volunteer work, advocacy, leadership and philanthropy, in their community and around the world.  As such, Durrant’s research has centered around the welfare of children, focusing on the psychological and cultural factors that contribute to a parents’ use of corporal punishment. 

“I am deeply honoured to have received this award from an organization that I hold in such high regard for its humanitarian principles,” she said. “I believe that these awards recognize the capacity within all of us to promote peace and nonviolence in our work.” 

A child-clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Family Social Sciences in the Faculty of Human Ecology, Durrant is also the acting director of prairie-based research network RESOLVE, and has spent considerable time living in Sweden to study the context, history and implementation of the world’s first corporal punishment ban. 

Her work has included the groundbreaking book Positive Discipline, published by the international child rights NGO Save the Children, and translated into 17 languages around the world.  She was also the principal researcher and co-author of the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth, an initiative of six national Canadian organizations. The document has since been endorsed by more than 160 professional organizations across Canada. 

In 2010, Durrant received the Ian Logan Memorial Award for Leadership in Child Abuse Prevention from the Provincial Advisory Committee on Child Abuse.  She has written several public education materials, including What’s Wrong with Spanking? published by the Canadian departments of Justice and Health, and Spanking: Should I or Shouldn’t I?, a brochure that has reached a circulation of more than 500,000. 

Despite the high caliber and global acceptance of her work, Durrant receives no income for these publications as they are available for free distribution, or can be downloaded for free from the Internet.  Instead, she continues to work tirelessly and is currently working with the Save the Children in Indonesia, where hundreds of children live in institutions as it is the only way their families can afford to send them to school. The Indonesian government is undertaking a de-institutionalization process to return many of these children to their homes and communities, and Durrant has been teaching Social Work students how to support the families affected by this process. 

Dr. Digvar Jayas

“I congratulate Dr. Durrant on receiving this well-deserved recognition of the important work that she undertakes to improve children’s rights around the world,” said Digvir Jayas, vice-president (research) and Distinguished Professor at the University of Manitoba. 

The Canadian Red Cross, Manitoba Region, will be hosting the Power of Humanity Awards Gala on May 9, 2011, at the Hotel Fort Garry where a total of four awards will be presented. 

For more information contact John Rymon, research communications officer, (204) 474-7184.

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