In Memoriam

CRWDP lost two internationally renowned researchers in the same week in September 2021.

Katherine Lippel and Marcia Rioux

Katherine Lippel

Katherine LippelKatherine Lippel passed away on September 23, 2021. Katherine Lippel, LLL, LLM, FRSC, was a full professor of law at the Faculty of Law (Civil Law Section) at the University of Ottawa and held the Distinguished Research Chair in Occupational Health and Safety Law. She was also a member of the Québec Bar and the CINBIOSE research centre. Professor Lippel has lead many multidisciplinary research teams focussing on various issues related to workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety. She was a lifelong advocate for workers' rights, speaking out against the stigmatization of victims of workplace injury and illness. She was a long-time CRWDP Collaborator and participated in many of the CRWDP events and activities. 

“I hope that my participation in CRDWP will contribute to a better understanding of the ways in which compensation systems can help or hinder people with disabilities in their attempts to recover and to return to work.” – Katherine Lippel

In memory of Katherine Lippel - by Dana Howse

Katherine Lippel was a pillar of the occupational health and safety research community, both in Canada and around the world. Katherine devoted her extraordinary career as a legal scholar to bettering occupational health and safety systems, and to improving circumstances and supports for injured workers. Her exceedingly lengthy and venerated list of publications, books, reports, presentations and awards and recognitions reflects not only her awe-inspiring accomplishments, but her unrelenting dedication to the field and to the injured worker community.

While Katherine’s achievements are too many to recount individually, some merit highlighting as testament to her exemplary contributions to work and health research, policy and practice. Katherine held the Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health and Safety Law at University of Ottawa from 2006 to 2020, and then the Distinguished Chair in Occupational Health and Safety Law until she passed this September. Katherine was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010, and in 2017 she received the highly esteemed SSHRC Gold Medal Award in recognition of her outstanding leadership and scholarship. More recently, Katherine Lippel was awarded a joint CIHR−SSHRC Partnership Grant for a project entitled “Policy and practice in return to work after work injury: Challenging circumstances and innovative solutions,” which has brought together a large multi-disciplinary team of academics, partners and trainees to investigate how public policies can better promote sustainable return to work. This team continues the Partnership’s work in Katherine’s memory and in a shared goal to advance Canadian return-to-work policy and practice for all injured workers.

When I first knew Katherine, she was the friendly face and warm hug at any number of OHS conferences and meetings we’d both attend. My early impressions of Katherine were that she had a seemingly unlimited supply of drive and energy. She so often had a suitcase in tow, about to take a train or plane to give a keynote address, meet a group of injured workers, or return to her office at University of Ottawa or home in St. Armand. I smile at the image of her writing grant applications or drafting a manuscript on little tray tables along the way. In more recent years, as she co-supervised my postdoctoral work with the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy, I gained a deeper appreciation for what made Katherine so special. I was dazzled by her incredible knowledge of Canadian and international occupational safety law and how she could instantly bring it to bear on the discrete policy issue I was studying or an observation I’d made in my data. I observed Katherine’s empathy for injured workers and the ways she supported their efforts and engaged them in hers. I marveled at Katherine’s extensive network of friends and colleagues, all eager to partner with her, that she’d developed through decades of international work and collaboration. I experienced first-hand her caring nature and the power of her encouragement and guidance.

Katherine’s passion for her work was boundless, and the impact of her contributions to work and health research, policy, and practice is immeasurable. Though she has left us far too soon, her legacy of work will undoubtedly carry on in all those she touched. Katherine will be remembered with admiration and love, and will be missed immensely.

Katherine’s many accomplishments and recognitions have been beautifully captured in tributes by the University of Ottawa and On the Move Partnership, and in the messages of remembrance submitted to both.