Maggie MacDonnell (2009 - 2010)


Maggie  MacDonnell

Maggie’s  academic and field experience centers on recreation, community development, and international youth engagement. She has published in the area of sport and peace building, and her work has been shared most recently at the Beijing Olympics. As a Sauvé Scholar, Maggie plans to study and work in areas such as social entrepreneurship, community development and gender.

Maggie is an enthusiastic young woman who grew up in rural Nova Scotia, an upbringing that has inspired her interest in a relationship-building approach to community development, equity and social justice. With nearly four years of field and research experience in Sub Saharan and East Africa, she has worked with diverse groups of youth, and has specialized in the area of sport and recreation as a tool in community development. A CIDA internship facilitated by the Coady International Institute took her to an AIDS orphanage in Botswana. Working with orphans and their caregivers, she developed recreation programming such as HIV/AIDS peer education football program, and a community drama initiative. Maggie spent a year and a half with Right to Play stationed in Congolese and Burundian refugee camps in Tanzania. In partnership with refugee coaches and teachers, Maggie initiated the development of a play based peace-building curriculum; the building of safe play spaces; camp-wide teacher trainings; and the implementation of inclusive play programs for girls, women and children with disabilities. She returned to Tanzania as Country Manager for Youth Challenge International, where she coordinated teams of Canadian youth volunteers as they partnered with youth-led organizations in Tanzania, focusing on projects that provided HIV/AIDS education, prevention and support. Most recently, Maggie has worked with Inuit youth on youth leadership in recreation through Sport Nunavut.

Maggie completed her Masters at the University of Toronto, where she focused on the role sport-based interventions are playing in international development. While studying, she worked on research for the International Working Group on Sport and Development. Maggie’s Masters research critically examined the use of sport as a tool in challenging and transforming gender relations in Tanzania.

As a Sauvé Scholar:
As a Sauvé Scholar, Maggie pursued studies in social entrepreneurship, indigenous health, transnational feminism, and the role youth are playing in participatory research for community development. Her Academic Mentor during her Sauvé year is Dr. Ann C. Macaulay , O.C., Inaugural Director of the new center Participatory Research at McGill (PRAM) whose mission is to promote all forms of participatory research and further the academic understanding of this approach to research. Specific projects Maggie worked on included developing a participatory, youth-led chocolate making cooperative in Zanzibar, as well as collaborating with female athletes in Tanzania to create empowering sport opportunities for women.  Maggie also used this time to explore several new areas of interest, including documentary film making.

Maggie’s research contributions in the area of sport and peace building have been shared most recently with governments at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Chocolate Safari | The Journey of a Budding Social Entrepreneur from Canada to Zanzibar!

Country of origin


“Leaders must dream of changing the world.

They must have an inspired vision of the changes they want to make and be prepared to consecrate all
their energy to that purpose. A capacity to communicate their objectives is indispensable to sustain
the enthusiasm of their collaborators and their perseverance in action.”
— The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé, Opening Speech to the National Conference for Young Leaders, June 2-8, 1991