Canadians honoured for their work to advance women and children’s health at First Annual CanWaCH Awards

OTTAWA, April 18, 2018 – Four dedicated, exceptional Canadians will be honoured tonight in Ottawa for their work to advance the health of women and children.

The first annual CanWaCH Awards for Excellence in Women and Children’s Health recognizes the significant contributions of Canadians who advance the health and rights of women and children globally through their unique efforts in four key areas: Leadership, Gender Equality, Measuring Impact and Youth Advocacy.

“This is our opportunity to recognize and thank those Canadians who blaze new paths and show incredible dedication to ensure that all women and children, no matter where they live, can access quality healthcare and thrive in communities around the world and here at home,” said Helen Scott, Executive Director for the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH). “They are the individuals leading the way in Canada’s efforts to champion the health rights and needs of the world’s most marginalized people.”

The awards will be presented at a reception at the Westin Ottawa as part of the annual conference of the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) and attended by representatives of international development organizations, health practitioners, researchers, academics, government officials and youth advocates.

The following award recipients were selected from among nominations received from across Canada:


Leadership Award: Dr. Angel M. Foster, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa

Recognizing an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities that have motivated, inspired or resulted in action on a national or global scale, the advancement of work in global health for women and children.

Gender Equality Award: Diviya Leonard, Youth Advocate, Plan International Canada

Recognizing an individual who has advanced, within the global health sector, gender equality policy or programming and/or a gender equality lens to programs, projects, organizational culture or communities.

Measuring Impact Award: Dr. Jenn Brenner, Director, Global Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiatives, University of Calgary

Recognizing an individual who champions the collection, analysis, use or sharing of data and monitoring and evaluation to communicate the impact of Canadian efforts in global health.

Youth Advocacy Award: Brianna Cheng, MSc Student, McGill University

Recognizing professionals or volunteers aged 16-24 who have demonstrated leadership, dedication and/or courage and have made an impact in women and children’s health and rights.

CanWaCH is a partnership of 100 organizations and associates working to ensure more women and children survive and thrive in over 1000 communities around the world. More information about the CanWaCH Awards and the work of CanWaCH members can be found at



Charmaine Crockett
Manager, Strategic Communications

Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health

[email protected] | 613-863-9489

CanWaCH Award Recipients 2018

Leadership: Dr. Angel M. Foster, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa

Dr. Foster

Dr. Angel M. Foster is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences and the 2011-2016 Endowed Chair in Women’s Health Research at the University of Ottawa. She holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford, an MD from Harvard Medical School, and both master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Stanford University. Her research focuses on emergency contraception, abortion, and health professions education and she leads projects in 12 different countries, including a number of conflict-affected settings. She has authored more than 100 publications and co-edited two books; her next book will be released in 2018. She is currently leading the revision of the Inter-Agency Field Manual for Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings. Dr. Foster serves on the Board of Directors of the National Abortion Federation. In 2017 the Guttmacher Institute bestowed on her the Darroch Award for Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research.

Gender Equality: Diviya Leonard, Youth Advocate, Plan International Canada


Diviya is a grade 11 student who is passionate about girls’ rights, and has been an active member of Plan International Canada Speakers’ Bureau for more than 4 years. When she was 11, Diviya entered a speech competition at her school and won the contest with a speech highlighting issues girls face in developing countries. Diviya now has her own blog titled “Diviya Lives Here” (, which has been viewed in over 50 countries around the world, and features posts about girls’ rights, social justice, and inspirational people who are working to change the world for the better. Diviya has taken action both locally and globally through spearheading fundraisers and campaigns, along with starting her own Champions of Change club. In October of 2016, Diviya was chosen along with 12 other girls from across Canada to take part in a Plan International Canada initiative in honour of International Day of the Girl called ‘Girls Belong Here’.

Measuring Impact: Dr. Jenn Brenner, Director, Global Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiatives, University of Calgary

Photo of Jenn Brenner

Dr. Jenn Brenner is a pediatrician and the Director of Global Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiatives (MNCH), and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Calgary. She has a passion for global health and has practiced medicine and supported health initiatives in a number of countries. For nearly two decades, she has served as the Canadian Director of Healthy Child Uganda, a university partnership in SW Uganda. More recently, Jenn has worked in collaboration with university partners to scale up MNCH Initiatives in Tanzania through the Mama na Mtoto initiatives. An important cornerstone of all interventions has been high-quality metrics measurement and reporting resulting in important documentation of best practice MNCH implementation models.   Jenn was a founding and executive member of the Global Child & Youth Health Section at the Canadian Paediatric Society, is a Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (Can-WaCH) Metrics Working Group member, and has participated in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ Expert Panel on Canada’s Strategic Role in Global Health.

Youth Advocacy: Brianna Cheng, MSc Student, McGill University

Brianna Cheng

Brianna is a Life Sciences graduate from McMaster University. Her passion for improving health equity in local and abroad communities, especially among at-risk populations, is reflected through her consistent and innovative leadership efforts. When she was an undergraduate student, she helped grow and establish the first Student Chapter of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research (CCGHR) and sought to advance dialogue on violence against women through the Global Health Agora, a novel inter-professional community engagement platform. Her mentorship has helped to guide new CCGHR chapters that has since expanded across Canada. Brianna has also demonstrated a continued scholarly dedication to women’s health issues. With her undergraduate academic work spanning gender-inclusive water governance policies to perceptions of malaria, Brianna is committed to a vision of global solidarity and advocacy to advance women and children’s health.



April 17, 2018