James Orbinski is Concordia’s 2017 Loyola Medal recipient. He is a medical doctor, humanitarian activist, author and leading scholar in global health. He is an advocate for those who have been silenced by war, genocide and mass starvation.
Orbinski gained field experience as a doctor with Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF), becoming witness to the mass injustices taking place in countries like Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), Rwanda, Afghanistan and Somalia. He was the MSF’s head of mission in Zaire in 1996-97 during the refugee crisis, as well as during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Orbinski was awarded with the Meritorious Service Cross — Canada’s highest civilian award — for his medical humanitarian leadership during the genocide.
From 1998-2001, Orbinski led the MSF as its international president. In that role he represented the organization in humanitarian emergencies and on critical humanitarian issues in Sudan, Kosovo, Russia, Cambodia, South Africa, India and Thailand. In 1999, Orbinski accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the MSF.
Orbinski is currently the inaugural director of the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research at York University. He continues his humanitarian work around the world with Dignitas, an international medical and research organization dedicated to improving access to health care for people facing a high burden of disease.