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Jocelyne Bourgon Visiting Scholar Lecture: The Time is Now for Black Canadians in the Public Service


About the lecture

Launched in October 2021, the Jocelyne Bourgon Visiting Scholar Initiative is a way to recognize academic expertise, foster fresh ideas, and obtain an external perspective on priority issues within the Government of Canada. This new lecture-style event provides visiting scholars with a dedicated platform to share their unique insights with the federal public service audience, with the goal of building a collaborative culture of learning between academia and the Government of Canada.

About this event

Known for its rigorous and transparent selection processes, the public service typically selects candidates based on a combination of skills, education and experience broadly recognized as necessary to perform the role. These merit criteria, established decades ago, are raising many questions today as certain groups, particularly Black Canadians, continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions.

This powerful event with keynote speaker and inaugural visiting scholar Dr. Rachel Zellars will examine the evolution of the application of merit criteria and its impact on different groups of employees in the context of equity, with a focus on Black public servants.

Learn about:

  • how the application of merit has shifted over the history of the public service
  • how merit has been applied to different groups of employees
  • why merit is often called into question in the context of ensuring greater racial equity

Who should attend

This event is open to all public servants, but will be of particular interest to hiring managers, HR specialists, executives and anyone with the delegated authority to hire or recruit new talent into the public service.

Video: Highlight Video: 2022 Jocelyne Bourgon Visiting Scholar Lecture

Video: Jocelyne Bourgon Visiting Scholar Lecture: The Time is Now for Black Canadians in the Public Service

Keynote speaker

Rachel Zellars, M.A., J.D., Ph.D., Visiting Scholar at the Canada School of Public Service

Opening remarks

The Honourable Jocelyne Bourgon P.C., O.C, President of Public Governance International (PGI), leader of the New Synthesis Project, President Emerita of the Canada School of Public Service.


  • Paula Folkes-Dallaire, MPA, Director General (Minister), Washington Sector, Public Services and Procurement Canada, Embassy of Canada to the United States
  • Gaveen Cadotte, Vice-President, Policy and Communications Sector, Public Service Commission of Canada


John Medcof, Lead Faculty, Canada School of Public Service

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