Community-Based Research Canada

NEW INSTITUTIONAL MEMBER – DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY SHARES ABOUT THEIR CBR INITIATIVES

What made you interested in signing up for CBRC membership?

Dalhousie University has grounded its strategic research clusters in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and understands that the achievement of these goals is dependent on the collaborative actions of many.  Connection to community is critical if we are to move the dial on the large-scale challenges that face our world.  This is clearly expressed in the fact that SDG 17 is focused solely on partnerships for the achievement of global sustainability.  While Dalhousie has concentrated/identified expertise in several of the SDGs (e.g., 14 – Life Below Water, 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation, 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy, etc.), partnership development is a priority across all faculties and campuses. 

Dalhousie is excited to join the Community Based Research Canada network because the diversity of membership presents the opportunity to share with and learn from a rich base of community-based research experience and expertise.  Best practices gained from experiential learning are critical in strengthening approaches to problem solving.  

The opportunities and challenges currently faced by society are too large for any one university, one sector or even one country to tackle alone.

What does your institution contribute to community-university partnerships?

While Dalhousie does not have a formal structure in place to focus on community-university partnerships, it recognizes the importance of these partnerships in ensuring the relevance of research undertaken in many faculties and departments.  We actively support and celebrate the mobilization of knowledge developed in our labs and classrooms to community stakeholders who can put it into action and maximize its benefit.  As the largest and most research-intensive institution in the Atlantic region, Dalhousie plays a significant role in driving the region’s intellectual, social and economic development.  Functioning as a community leader and hub to bring people together, our constant pursuit of innovative solutions to complex problems helps us to inspire great things. 

Dalhousie is proud to be more vibrant and connected than ever. To create a future where everyone can thrive, we must learn from the knowledge and skills of the communities that shape us.  In 2019, Dalhousie is committed to implementing an Indigenous Strategy and African Nova Scotian Strategy, and to supporting the diverse individuals and communities who find their place at Dalhousie.

What has been your institution’s experience in community-university partnerships and what plans do you have for the future?

Dalhousie has many researchers who are deeply committed to working with and in service to the community.  They recognize that the perspectives and insights of members of the community are invaluable in formulating a deep understanding of challenges faced and are invigorated by the opportunity to use their expertise to bring about tangible change.  Two notable examples come from the Faculties of Health and Law. 

Dr. Ingrid Waldron is an Associate Professor at Dalhousie’s School of Nursing.  Using Nova Scotia as a case study and colonialism as the overarching theory, Dr. Waldron works with Indigenous and Black communities, examining the legacy of environmental racism and its health impacts.  Her recently-published book, There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous and Black Communities, unpacks how environmental racism operates as a mechanism of erasure enabled by the intersecting dynamics of white supremacy, power, state-sanctioned racial violence, neoliberalism and racial capitalism in white settler societies.  Her work illustrates the ways in which the effects of environmental racism are compounded by other forms of oppression to further dehumanize and harm communities already dealing with pre-existing vulnerabilities.  Dr. Waldron’s book attracted the attention of actress Ellen Page and became the impetus for the eponymous documentary film that will be featured at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.  

Professor Jennifer Llewellyn from Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law is a world leader in the area of Restorative Justice and, because of her deep commitment to and success in building transformative connections with government, community and academic partners in Canada and around the world, she is the recipient of the 2018 SSHRC Impact Award for Connection. Professor Llewellyn argues that justice is fundamentally about establishing, promoting, and protecting just relations – those in which all parties enjoy equal respect, care and concern, and dignity.  In her community-based research, she has consistently demonstrated that justice processes must be designed to reflect relationality to create conditions required for just relationships.  Her work is focused fundamentally on building community and university collaborations for the application of restorative approaches.  A true public intellectual, Professor Llewellyn is focused on engaging the world beyond the academy; she has an innate willingness, capacity, and commitment to address some of the most challenging social issues and to facilitate the empowerment of those most affected.  Professor Llewellyn has contributed to meaningful criminal justice reform in Canada and around the world.