Doctors Without Borders
Participate to the online award ceremony on March 18, 2021.
Rachel is known as a changemaker, often disrupting the humanitarian field with her radical approach; one which centres community self-empowerment, solidarity, and compassion. After spending over 25 years working in humanitarian aid, Rachel founded SeeChange Initiative, which works to decolonize health by accompanying marginalized groups to build innovative community first solutions to their health crises.
As a citizen, teacher and leader in organizations such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), Rachel Kiddell-Monroe leverages her position to bring greater compassion, humanity and solidarity to all of her spheres of influence. As an advocate for access to essential medicines, she has used her legal and humanitarian experience to help make UAEM a global rights organization that operates in both academic and international circles.
Rachel Kiddell-Monroe has also worked with students at her alma mater, McGill University, to get policies adopted to ensure that the results of government-funded research are made accessible and affordable to all who may need them.
She has founded her own organization called SeeChange Initiative, which works with communities in Nunavut to identify innovative leading solutions to fight the tuberculosis crisis devastating Northern Aboriginal populations.
Rachel Kiddell-Monroe has a boundless capacity for getting off the beaten path and taking both innovative and creative approaches in order to solve complex problems. For example, in her work for UAEM, she constantly encourages student members to engage in open-ended brainstorming exercises that get the students thinking about a global biomedical research and development system before even mentioning patents or policies. Moreover, through her work with UAEM, Rachel supports alternative biomedical R&D approaches that focus on patients rather than profits.
Rachel Kiddell-Monroe is also a visionary. In a room of 600 people, she begins her class with the sentence, “All we have are stories.” Throughout the semester, she shares her own stories and the stories of the people she has met. This creates an intimate and dynamic environment, as she reminds the international development students that the human spirit is at the heart of theory and policy.
In her brand new course for graduate students entitled Humanitarian Action in the 21st Century, Rachel continues to marry theory and practice by encouraging her students to get involved with organizations that work with refugees and asylum seekers in Montreal. In everything she does, Rachel is committed to breaking down silos and barriers between disciplines, sectors, generations and communities.
Rachel Kiddell-Monroe has spent the greater part of her life working in crisis situations, from Rwanda to Somalia, from Mexico to refugee camps in France, Italy and Greece. She is aware of the human and social consequences of apathy and indifference. She advocates for respect and recognition of humanitarian law and principles both locally and around the world. Rachel encourages people to think globally and act locally. She embodies this principle in her work with refugees and asylum seekers in Montreal who have been displaced by conflicts around the world and in her activism to ensure that medicines developed at home can save lives in disadvantaged countries.
Rachel Kiddell-Monroe takes the concept of “humanitarian entrepreneurship” to heart. She researches innovative local projects that support creative ways of focusing more on humanitarian ideals in this technology-driven world. She also believes in the power of stories—to inform our own choices, but also to arouse empathy and bring a human dimension to the statistics. If we can see the millions of displaced persons as human individuals, each with their own stories, hopes and dreams, rather than as a critical mass of migrants, then we can be moved to act. Rachel Kiddell-Monroe is always determined to ensure that human lives are central to the policies and programs that affect each and every one of us.
Rachel Kiddell-Monroe’s vision of a more peaceful and harmonious society is enormously inspiring to others. Her belief in the power of action by citizens toward creating change has prompted many people to get involved. In her November 2017 TEDxMontrealWomen talk, she called on individuals to reject the policy of fear and choose to show solidarity in their own way, saying “When we choose to reach out a hand to help the other, we can make a difference, we can make change.”
Rachel Kiddell-Monroe firmly believes in the unique messages and approaches that women have to offer in communicating with people and in triggering change. She ensures that women have the opportunity, the space and the support necessary to make improvements in all areas of their lives.