FIRA Salutes Fernand Lozier
By: John Hoffman
Fernand Lozier, a long-time champion of father involvement in Canada, has retired after a long and accomplished career in Canada's public service, first with Health Canada and subsequently the Public Health Agency of Canada. Fernand, who has served on FIRA's Steering Committee since it's inception, was father involvement's first "friend" in bureaucratic circles. He played a central enabling role in creating partnerships and securing funding for various father involvement projects including research, training, knowledge dissemination and social marketing. His persistent efforts to bring researchers together to discuss a pan-Canadian father involvement research project were the first steps that led directly to the development of the Father Involvement Research Alliance.
Fernand Lozier began his career in the public service 35 years ago with the institution known, at that time, as Health and Welfare Canada. He started out working on a Senior Citizens' program called New Horizons and went on to hold many positions including Chief of National Operations and Program Consultant. Fernand was also part of the core team that developed Health Canada's Population Health model.
Later in his career he moved to the Healthy Child Development Section of Health Canada's Ontario region where he developed a keen interest and sense of concern about the role of fathers in healthy child development. It was here that he became the chief and most persistent catalyst in a movement among Canadian family-serving practitioners to become more aware and educated about the role that fathers play in healthy child development, to make services for families more father-inclusive and to share and promote best practices for working with fathers. His efforts and in particular his uncanny to find project funding, led to needs assessments, training events, educational conferences and other community mobilization activities, primarily in Ontario, but in other provinces as well.
Although he generally worked behind the scenes and was never the person to get public or media credit, many if not most of Canada's major father involvement accomplishments and products bear Fernand Lozier's footprint. Along with his key role in the creation of FIRA, Fernand's ideas, actions, arm-twisting and proliferation of e-mails marked "urgent!" led to the creation of:
- The Father Involvement Initiative - Ontario Network (FII-ON), the Father Involvement Network of BC, Father Involvement Alberta and an emerging Aboriginal Father Involvement Initiative
- The Father Involvement Research Alliance
- Social marketing resources including six educational booklets and a poster series that have been used widely across Canada and around the world
- Father Involvement in Educational Institutions - an academic audit of father involvement content in Canadian post-secondary curricula
- The Father Toolkit, produced by the My Daddy Matters Project - a national project on fathering, which ran from 2002 to 2003
- Father Involvement - Building Our Children's Character: a parenting course for fathers based on principles of father involvement and character development
At his retirement dinner on September 18, Brian Russell, chair of FII-ON announced the establishment of new award, the Fernand Lozier Award for Excellence in Father Involvement Practice. This award will be given to a person, agency, organization, or company in the for-profit or not-for-profit sectors who has shown innovation and commitment to fathers and/or issues facing fathers in Canada today. It's a fitting tribute to the man who has likely done more for Canadian father involvement than any other individual.