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Defenders for Human Rights
Gilles Julien

Gilles Julien Children’s Health and Wellness

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GRADE LEVELS = 5 to 12  /  SUGGESTED TIME = Three 60 minute class periods

Dr. Gilles Julien is a social pediatrician and executive director of the Fondation du Dr Julien (Dr. Julien Foundation), an organization that promotes the advancement of children’s rights through social pediatrics.

Julien received his medical degree from Université Laval in 1970 and took specialized training in pediatrics at the Université de Montréal. He has since held numerous positions in community and public health services, including work with the Northern Quebec Inuit health sector, where he created an ear infection program that halved the rate of deafness among children.

Since the early 1990s, Dr. Julien has worked primarily at community health centers in Côte-des-Neiges and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, two of Montreal’s poorest neighbourhoods. He helped establish the Assistance d’enfants en difficulté, which provides social, educational, and medical services to children in need, and the Centre de services préventifs à l’enfance (Centre for Preventative Services for Children), which offers similar services to disadvantaged families. In 2005, he created the Fondation pour la promotion de la pédiatrie sociale, which would later become the Dr. Julien Foundation.

In Quebec, Dr. Julien is considered the father of social pediatrics: a holistic approach that offers innovative solutions to the special needs of neglected and abused children. Social pediatrics emphasizes family empowerment, physical proximity, and partnerships with the child’s wider community. Dr. Julien and his team see 3,000  children each year.

Julien has received numerous awards, including a Gold Medal from the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, the Médaille du mérite from the Association des médecins de langue française du Canada, and the 2008 Innovation and Leadership Award from the Quebec Medical Association. In 2006, he became Quebec’s first Ashoka Fellow: “an international recognition conferred on social entrepreneurs for their innovative solutions to social problems.”