Network News

Conducting community-based research at a distance – June 11th live online event

This infographic summarizes the discussion from June 11th’s Live Online Discussion entitled: Conducting community-based research at a distance. Click here to read the infographic.

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Conducting community-based research at a distance – June 4th live online event

This infographic summarizes the discussion from June 4th’s Live Online Discussion entitled: Conducting community-based research at a distance. Click here to read the infographic.

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Community-Based Research Excellence Tool Publication and Workshop

Joanna Ochocka, CBR Canada board co-chair recently co-authored a journal article about the Community-Based Research Excellent Tool (CBRET). The Gateways Journal article is titled, “Assessing excellence in community-based research: Lessons from research with Syrian refugee newcomers”. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate a tangible way of assessing research projects which claim to be community-based, and in so doing gain a deeper understanding of how research can be a means of contributing to refugee newcomer resilience.

Read the full article here >

Community-Based Research Canada offers webinars on the Community-Based Research Excellence Tool. To learn more about requesting a webinar, click here.

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Conducting community-based research at a distance – May 14 live online event

This infographic summarizes the discussion from May 14th’s live online discussion entitled: Conducting community-based research at a distance.

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A CBR Canada board director, Charlotte Loppie was awarded a $3.5 million grant to fund a new provincial network

Charlotte Loppie was awarded a $3.5 million grant to fund a new provincial network that will provide Indigenous peoples with the ability to have more control over what and how research is conducted to improve health and wellness in their communities. The network, led by Loppie, will support community-driven research according to the needs and priorities of the communities themselves.

News Coverage:

Victoria News
https://www.vicnews.com/news/provincial-network-gives-indigenous-peoples-control-over-research-to-improve-health-wellness-in-communities/

UVic News
https://www.uvic.ca/news/media/2020+indigenous-health-research+media-release

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Request for Proposals: Cannabis and Mental Health

Mental Health Commission of Canada is currently seeking Requests for Proposals for Community-Based Research Projects in Cannabis and Mental Health. The purpose of the Community-Based Research (CBR) funding is to address knowledge gaps in the relationship between cannabis and mental health. This opportunity is also aimed at building research capacity among people with lived and living experience of cannabis use and/or mental health problems and illnesses, and by other priority populations. Between 2020 and 2022, the MHCC will fund up to 12 CBR projects. The maximum funding for an approved research project is up to $50,000 per year ($100,000 over two years). Proposal development support is available upon request (see the final section for further details).

If you would like to receive proposal support from expert community-based hubs  please contact Lynette Schick at lschick@mentalhealthcommission.ca by May 15th, 2020 to express interest.

Application deadline: May 29, 2020

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Spring 2020 e-News: A Message from the Co-Chairs of CBR Canada

First and foremost, we hope you are well, staying healthy and connected with the ones you love while self-isolating.

Recent weeks have been hard on all of us emotionally and mentally as we cope and adjust to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Personal lives are being changed dramatically as we all stay physically distanced from each other, connecting virtually  (if so lucky), with many people being adversely impacted financially. The unsung heroes of yesterday (frontline medical staff, grocery store clerks, truck drivers etc.) are the recognized heroes of today.

 CRB Canada member organizations, universities, and colleges are working around the clock to reimagine the day to day during to the COVID-19 pandemic while also stepping up even more to support communities with whom they work. It has become very apparent that those who are most at-risk at the best of times, are even more vulnerable at the worst of times; a time like now.

This is truly a time for compassion on both large and small scales and the value of community-campus engagement seems more critical than ever.  In the short term, we need to work together to identify immediate community needs and use our networks to be a voice that ensures resources get to where they really need to be. In the immediate/long term, there will be an ongoing challenge to develop community-based research projects that can positively impact the communities most in need. Indeed, in these unprecedented times there will be major call to action to monitor, evaluate and promote social change in the post-pandemic world.

And what can CBR Canada offer in this time of uncertainty? We are committed to stepping up our game by providing more of the capacity-building, knowledge sharing, and convening functions for which we are well known. For example, one new opportunity to look forward to is a live panel discussion/sharing experiences and actions on community research responses to COVID-19. This initiative is in the final planning stages so please let us know if you have an interest in being part of the panel.

Please also find in this newsletter information about current initiatives to consider, upcoming webinars to join, and the link to the CBR Canada draft strategic plan survey to provide your critical feedback. We also ask that you keep in touch and communicate with us – this is your network and your national voice.

With humility, we hope that CBR Canada and its member organizations will be part of an ongoing national and international dialogue and information sharing about how we can all live and survive in a post-pandemic world. We are hopeful that this moment of time offers a chance for a new beginning; a renewed spirit of imagination for a just world where humans and nature thrive in harmony.

Dreaming of the future may feel like a luxury we can’t afford just now, but it may be the very thing we need most.

In these uncertain times,

Be well,

Joanna and Steve

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An Interview with a Canadian Researcher Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers have been called to investigate medical, social, and policy measures to counter the detrimental impacts of the pandemic. In this article, a Community-Based Research Canada board director and University of Waterloo assistant professor, Dr. Warren Dodd was interviewed over the phone by Janna Martin, CBR Canada Secretariat Support. Below, Warren discusses his involvement in a research project addressing the challenge of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to care for their populations with an under financed health system and limited resources for health care workers.

Thanks for making the time for this interview! Could you tell me how this project began?

WD: In February, the government of Canada announced $27M in initial funding available for coronavirus research (see news release). This prompted Dr. Xiaolin Wei, a faculty member at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health (project lead) to bring together a team that included myself, other Canadian academics, and partners in the Philippines and Sri Lanka to write a proposal. The title of our project is, Developing integrated guidelines for health care workers in hospital and primary healthcare facilities in response to COVID-19 pandemic in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs).

WD: Xiaolin and I had established partnerships several years earlier with NGOs in the Philippines, namely International Care Ministries (ICM), a faith-based organization working on poverty alleviation. Our existing partnership with ICM in the Philippines was an important reason why our proposal was successful.

Where are you at in the project?

WD: Currently, the research team and project partners in the Philippines are adapting the World Health Organization’s guidelines (to manage COVID-19 for hospitals and health-care facilities) to make them relevant for a low-resource setting. The next step is to pilot the guidelines in hospitals and health-care facilities in the Philippines. Following the pilot, an evaluation will be conducted to learn what works, what does not work, and how the guidelines can be improved. The research team is starting in the Philippines with the goal of expanding to Sri Lanka and other low and middle-income countries. The project has funding for 2 years – ending in February 2022.

What are some challenges you are facing when it comes to striving for a timely response to the pandemic, but also taking a community-based approach?  

WD: Conducting research during a global pandemic has its challenges. The work plan had to be adjusted as travel restrictions were implemented. Initially, I was hoping to go to the Philippines in May to work more closely with partners, but now it is looking unlikely that I will be able to go at all this Spring or Summer. The physical distancing of the researchers from the context where the pilot and research is taking place, means that we are limited to only involving health-care facilities that have a reliable internet connection. This unfortunately excludes facilities that are rural or remote. The research team and I are thinking critically about how to ensure that diverse voices are included in this project, given the technology limitations. We are thinking of creative ways to accomplish projects goals.

WD: In order to be successful, the project needs to be flexible about how to involve stakeholders in meaningful ways. The stakeholders in this project are physicians, nurses, and other healthcare practitioners, who are already stretched thin. We do not want to overburden our partners, but it is a tricky balance because local partner involvement is critical for the project to move forward. During this time when the researchers cannot be in person, the project is especially community-driven, as they must rely on the knowledge and expertise of partners in the Philippines. We have weekly virtual team meetings to hear updates from our colleagues in the Philippines on how the pandemic and the response to the pandemic is evolving there. We are committed to collaborating in a context of uncertainty, in order to develop relevant guidelines.

Thank-you for telling me about your research team’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and for allowing me to bring your story to the Community-Based Research Canada network!

WD: Thank-you! This is a very challenging time, but I am hopeful that researchers, community partners, and community organizations can continue to work collaboratively, creatively, and compassionately to achieve shared goals and to provide support.

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Gateways Journal discusses their CBR initiatives

CBR Canada invited Gateways Journal to speak about their community-based research efforts for the Spring 2020 e-News. CBR Canada board directors have published in their journal as Gateways is an excellent resource for promoting community-based research. Margaret Malone, Managing Editor, wrote this piece on behalf of the editorial committee at Gateways. You may reach Margaret by email at Margaret.malone@uts.edu.au.

Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement was founded in 2008, initially to provide scholars with a high-quality, peer-reviewed journal in which they could publish the results of their engaged research and practice. At that time, there was a dual focus on both demonstrating the scholarly legitimacy of the work and participating in international dialogue to help establish the definitions, theoretical frameworks and methodologies of best-practice engagement.

Over the past decade, we have observed – through the manuscripts submitted, peer reviews received and articles published – how this has continued to evolve into an increasingly diverse, complex conversation, in which attention is turning away from examining the definitional boundaries of engagement to focus more on issues of the core: what does transformative reciprocity look like? How do power imbalances play out in both practice and outcomes? What change has really occurred, and for who? For Gateways, these critically important discussions necessitate efforts geared towards increasing the presence of scholars and community-based partners from around the world, with whom so much knowledge and expertise lies, as authors of vital research.  

The above statement gives a sense of how Gateways frames what an expanded concept of excellence in engagement might mean for an international peer-reviewed academic journal. The central purpose of academic journals has always been to facilitate the documentation, public sharing and assessment of evidence-based, high-quality research and practice.

A foundational pillar of engagement is its recognition of the diversity of knowledges that exist in the world and their legitimate place ‘at the research table’.

What does it mean to bring these two things together, and how? In Gateways’ first Editorial in 2008, we described our aims as seeking ‘to add chairs at a global research table … to include experienced community voices’. This very much still stands but, if I can extend the metaphor a bit more, I’d suggest that our attention is now pivoting towards a more critical examination of the table itself. Just what are community partners being invited to join? What, substantively, will be changed through their participation in the communication and sharing of co-created knowledge in an academic journal?

US scholars Frank Fear and Lorilee Sandmann have recently called for a ‘second-wave movement’ within engagement, writing that ‘we won’t contend (as we did before) that the academy is underengaged because we will have recognized that the academy has always been engaged.[1]

The academy has sometimes been overengaged for private gain.

These are not new or simple questions to answer, and neither are they intended to diminish the remarkable achievements of countless partnerships over the past few decades.

This e-interview between Gateways journal and CBR Canada is itself proof of the substantial and sustained global commitment to community-engaged research. But such connections need to be nurtured and considered as being in it for the long-haul. The sorts of structural changes we all hope for demand concerted, comprehensive, bold thinking and acting. So, in that spirit, thank you for talking with us, and we certainly hope this is but the start!


[1] Fear, FA and Sandmann, LR 2019, ‘It’s time for a second-wave movement’, in LR Sandmann and DO Jones (eds), Building the field of higher education engagement: Foundational ideas and future directions, Stylus, Sterling, Virginia, pp. 99-110.

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Mental Health Commission of Canada discusses their CBR initiatives

CBR Canada invited the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to write about their community-based research initiatives for the Spring 2020 e-News. The Secretariat for CBR Canada, Centre for Community Based Research is supporting MHCC’s call for proposals which you will learn more about below.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has a rich history in community-engaged research marked by two landmark demonstration projects. The first of these, At Home/Chez Soi, helped inform a national shift in policy and dialogue towards Housing First as a response to housing/homelessness for people living with mental illness in Canada. The second, Roots of Hope, is a community-led suicide prevention intervention study actively underway in partner communities across Canada. Recognizing the importance of centering people with lived and living experience of mental health problems and illnesses and substance use, the MHCC was eager to find new ways to support community-engagement initiatives and to ensure lived experience perspectives remain central in all aspects of research.

Following the legalization of non-medical cannabis, the MHCC was tasked with helping to close research gaps on the relationship between cannabis and mental health, including both potential harms and/or benefits. With a suite of research investments planned, the MHCC recognized the significant contribution that community-led research investments could offer due to an emphasis on lived experience perspectives, the opportunity for community capacity building, and greater consideration for the social determinants of health and health equity. From 2020-2022 the MHCC will be funding up to 12 two-year projects (up to $50,000 per year or $100,000 per project) and the call for proposals is currently open (deadline May 29th). The grant opportunity is seeking applicants from priority populations including people with lived and living experience of cannabis use and/or mental health problems or illnesses; First Nations, Inuit, and Métis; immigrant, refugee, ethnocultural, and racialized communities; Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer communities; and from communities who experience layered oppression (e.g., homelessness, involvement in the justice system, sex work, and buying or selling street-level substances). The design of the research opportunity itself was largely informed by people with lived and living experience and from priority communities who came together at two different forums to express the most pressing issues related to cannabis and mental health and to map a community-based research agenda.

Text Box: “What I’ve learned, you can’t learn in school. [Researchers and organizations need to] honour expertise with actions, not words. Put your money where your mouth is.”  Ottawa Forum Participant, 2019

This research opportunity is intended to support teams with invaluable community experience.  We recognize that team members may be new to formalized research. To build capacity through the proposal development phase, the MHCC has partnered with six organizations with expertise in health equity, community-based research, and knowledge translation, including: the Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR), the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH); Centre for Healthy Communities; Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK); the Wellesley Institute; and the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health (NCCDH).  These six “hubs” are available to mentor potential applicants through their proposal development and answer any questions teams may have related to the principles and methods underpinning community-based research.

By continuing to invest in community-based research, the MHCC hopes to provide a platform for lived experience perspectives and to ultimately help close research gaps in cannabis and mental health in meaningful ways. If you would like additional information related to this opportunity, please email cannabis@mentalhealthcommission.ca.

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