Ontario Tech adds Canada Research Chair, anti-racism expert to Oshawa campus

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Published March 13, 2024 at 3:19 pm

Ontario Tech’s nationally acclaimed research leadership portfolio and its anti-racism credentials got a major boost with the appointment of Dr. Kanika Samuels-Wortley as the university’s newest Canada Research Chair (CRC).

Funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research of Council of Canada, the five-year appointment – valued at $500,000 – will explore how race and racism influence the operation of the Canadian criminal justice system by examining both historical and contemporary criminal justice processes and procedures.

Samuels-Wortley’s Tier 2 research chair in systemic racism, technology and criminal justice – which can be renewed one time – supports the university’s commitment to research leadership in healthy populations, community well-being and social justice, which forms part of Ontario Tech’s six strategic research areas.

“Ontario Tech is proud to have Dr. Kanika Samuels-Wortley join our research community,” said Ontario Tech research and innovation vice-president Dr. Les Jacobs. “Her outstanding research program promises to strengthen the university’s research excellence.”

Prior to joining the Ontario Tech faculty Samuels-Wortley was an Assistant Professor in Criminology at Toronto Metropolitan University. She is also a Visiting Fellow at Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance in Canberra, Australia and an Ontario Tech graduate, completing her master’s degree in criminology at the Oshawa school.

In her new role Samuels-Wortley and her research team will use “robust methodologies” rooted in enhanced critical race perspectives. Those methodologies will generate “empirical and theoretically informed studies” that examine and identify systemic barriers within criminal justice policies and procedures that negatively impact Black and Indigenous people.

“Systemic change can be achieved through the collaboration of experts from various fields,” Samuels-Wortley said. “I am thrilled to be part of an academic institution that provides this opportunity. Importantly, I look forward to working with community members, leaders, and practitioners across all levels of the criminal justice system to position Canada as a leader in achieving equitable justice.”

The research program will allow criminal justice practitioners, policy makers, academics and the public to have a better understanding of the complex relationship between race, racism, crime and criminal justice and support the development of “effective and equitable” criminal justice policies.

Jacobs said he is looking forward to Samuels-Wortley’s contributions over the next five years in “establishing best practices in the criminal justice system and building inclusive communities.”

Samuels-Wortley received her master’s degree in 2015 (she also has a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Toronto and a PhD in sociology from Waterloo) and is Ontario Tech’s first graduate to become an Ontario Tech Canada Research Chair.

Learn more about Ontario Tech University’s 10 Canada Research Chairs.

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