Faculty Member honoured for Human Rights Advocacy

Faculty member receives honourable mention during Human Rights Week

Amy Hewko - 10 December 2013

For Mel Lewis, helping people is just part of the job. As an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics and the associate dean of Learner Advocacy and Wellness for the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, she works closely with students and residents to ensure they are able to complete their medical training.

It was this trait that inspired incoming resident Jessica Dunkley to nominate her for the academic staff award at the first annual University of Alberta Human Rights Education Recognition Award ceremony. Dunkley, the first deaf Métis medical doctor in Canada, struggled to find a university that could accommodate her.

"When I met Dr. Lewis, she immediately saw the value in welcoming my presence by taking the initiative to advocate for my inclusion even though the University of Alberta has never accommodated a deaf physician who requires sign language interpreters," Dunkley said. "Dr. Lewis is a fierce believer who demonstrated integrity, skills and calibre to move mountains with several key stakeholders to come together and educate everyone on the duty to accommodate without discrimination."

Held in conjunction with International Human Rights Day, the award ceremony honours staff, faculty and students who strive to enhance U of A communities through understanding and human rights education. Lewis was one of four nominees in the academic staff category, and received an honourable mention.