Stéphanie Bacher, in memoriam
Our colleague, friend and PhD student, Stéphanie Bacher, passed away peacefully on September 29, 2023.
Members of the School of Political Studies will always remember her intelligence and tenacity, her rigour and her concern for the entire university community. Those who knew of her long battle with cancer will be inspired by her smiling courage. As a member of the executive of the University of Ottawa’s Political Studies Graduate Student Association, she demonstrated remarkable organizational skills. Working with Stéphanie allowed us to be in the presence of an outstanding PhD student, lecturer, teaching and research assistant and a demanding colleague, passionate about democracy and human rights (the themes of her master's research on Guatemala) and a defender of French-speaking communities. A respected voice at our departmental assemblies, she was actively involved in the diversification of doctoral thesis formats, with the addition of the article-based thesis. Particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, she was a real point of reference for new PhD cohorts, welcoming, guiding and reassuring newcomers, and always being generous with advice and encouragement to persevere and make the most of their abilities.
For her doctorate, funded by a SSHRC scholarship, she chose to conduct research on authoritarianism through the ambiguities of Ugandan-style peacebuilding. Stéphanie was a determined and adventurous researcher, setting out on "difficult" fieldwork between two rounds of medical treatment. As a fighter, she had decided to become a specialist in the evil that gnawed at her without ever allowing it to alter the joy and passion for research that she passed on to those who were lucky enough to interact with her.
A journalist at La Rotonde, the University's French-language student newspaper, Stéphanie was also a student member of the Human Rights Research and Education Center and, for a year, Equity Commissioner for the University of Ottawa Graduate Student Association, in a complicated context. Off-campus, she put her values and expertise to work for Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders.
The testimonials are unanimous: we were extremely lucky enough to work with her. We remember her as a remarkable researcher, colleague and caring friend who generously shared her teasing sense of humour and optimism. Although a vivid voice has fallen silent, in our hearts the conversation has not. Stéphanie changed the lives of those who met her at the School of Political Studies and the University of Ottawa.
Looking back, an entire School is in mourning.
To her husband Guillaume, also a member of our School, to her mother Michelle and her father Yves, to her brother Jean-Sébastien and her sister Laurie-Anne, to all her family and friends, we offer our most sincere condolences.