Without the support and recognition I received as a Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation scholar, I am certain that my doctoral trajectory would have gone quite differently. Through the connections that I made via the Foundation at the various yearly conferences and Summer Institutes, I was able to secure further funding and support to do my doctoral research project in Vancouver. The project was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far, as I was able to pursue my research with other former youth in care in a collaborative and engaging way. The Foundation allowed me to do the research that I had always dreamed of doing, by connecting me with the right people, making me feel confident in my somewhat radical social justice research approaches, and providing me with the necessary financial support to focus on my mission. I will forever be grateful for my experience as a scholar, and look forward to a continued engagement with the Foundation community as an alumna.
Melanie is currently a PhD candidate and Sessional Instructor at McGill University's School of Social Work, and a member of the Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF). She is a recipient of SSHRC and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctoral scholarships. In 2015, Melanie became highly engaged in her community: she cofounded a peer support group, the Montreal Youth in Care Alumni Student Association (MYCASA), and served as a Board of Directors member of the Quebec youth in care network (C.A.R.E Jeunesse) until August 2016. She was also involved as a youth advisor for the SSHRC-funded Study of Youth Leaving Care in Quebec and France (SYLC) from 2015 until 2018.
Melanie continuously aspires to become a university professor, a research consultant, an author, a motivational speaker, and a mentor to and advocate for youth involved in the child welfare system. Stemming from her unique experience as a youth in care, Melanie's main research interests are rooted in issues that affect youth in and from care. For her doctoral research, Melanie led and facilitated a collaborative photovoice project in the fall of 2018 with eight former youth in care between the ages of 19 and 29 in the Greater Vancouver area. The project focused on the importance of supportive long-term relationships for youth 'aging out' of care, and aimed to take a closer look at the relationships that matter to young people from care, and how those relationships can be developed and supported over time. A photo exhibit showcasing the work of the young co-researchers was held in Vancouver at the end of the project, and was attended by key decision-makers from government and community sectors. Melanie's research aims to provide a platform for youth from care to propose specific recommendations relevant to child welfare policies, programs and intervention strategies targeted to young people in care transitioning to adulthood.