Sophie Dufour-Beauséjour


“It is at INRS that I was able to reconcile my values of community involvement with my research work. I receive this award as a consideration of my eclectic journey.”

Sophie Dufour-Beauséjour (Ph.D. Water sciences, 2021)

Policy analyst
Climate change preparedness
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Why did you choose INRS for your studies? 

After my master’s in fundamental physics, I wanted to tackle concrete matters. The interdisciplinary approach of INRS intrigued me. I also wanted a woman as my doctoral supervisor. It wasn’t easy to find that in my previous field! I was fortunate to be one of Professor Monique Bernier’s last students prior to her retirement. She was a pioneer in Earth observation.

What has stayed with you from your INRS experience?

A mixture of days working in the field during the winter on an ice floe in Nunavik and fits of laughter in the IT lab with my research group. I had never been out in the field before starting my doctoral dissertation. I learned on the spot, thanks to the generosity of our northern collaborators. Not to take myself too seriously, and learning how to deal with the unexpected. That’s what I remember. 

Do you have a favourite memory about the campus? 

What I really liked was the cultural diversity that is found at INRS. One summer, the student association posted a world map in the lobby and everyone placed a pin on their native country. I miss this heterogeneous community, it was a real treasure!

What is the most important lesson you learned from your time at INRS?

The importance of taking care of your well-being. From the start, I decided that I wouldn’t let completing my doctorate make me sick. My supervisor always respected my work rhythm and my limits. I’m proud that my work was recognized with these conditions respected. It shows that you can conduct research more slowly, while maintaining your quality of life.

Can you speak about your career path since you obtained your degree?

During the last year of my dissertation, I applied to the Canadian government’s Recruitment of Policy Leaders program. The announcement was intended for master’s and Ph.D. graduates wanting to find creative solutions to the challenges of our time. It piqued my interest! I had the honour of being selected. I’ve been basing my work on expertise developed during my Ph.D., but also with what I learned by getting involved in student associations, the radio, and other social justice projects. I am really learning a lot.

How did your time at INRS prepare you for your career?

I was responsible for almost all stages in my dissertation, from planning data collection to publication of the results. Doing a doctorate is project management. The emphasis is often on our cutting-edge knowledge, but researchers are also versatile, strategic and focused on communications. 

What advice would you like to give to today’s students?

Take up space and fight for your principles, both in the university and elsewhere. Take care of yourself and your colleagues. Don’t be afraid to fail, it’s a way of learning. You have the power to transform our research institutions: take it!

What are your wishes for the future?

At times, it’s difficult to be optimistic. When I got my diploma, colonialism and systemic racism were continuing to wreck lives. Not to mention the grown number of femicides. I wish someone would make me hopeful. I hope to see the self-determination of Indigenous people accelerate in Canada. I’d like decision makers to be pushed to invest in cultivating social mixing and access to nature. It’s up to us to create benevolent communities. Courage!

meet other Lumières awardees