Community Based Research Project

Our research projects reach uOttawa students and communities Our Research Projects

What is the OPIRG Community Based Research Project?

The OPIRG Community Research Project serves to assist students and community groups wishing to conduct research related to social, economic, and environmental justice. This program will not only fund research but will also provide mentoring before, during, and after, offering support in areas such as writing research proposals, acquiring research skills, conducting ethical research, as well as disseminating research results to the community. OPIRG-Ottawa will be accepting proposals from both students and community groups, and

  • matching students with community group proposals;
  • finding community groups for students to work with depending on their research interests/proposals; OR
  • funding community group research projects which either don’t need student researchers or which have already identified their student researcher.

Requirements and application deadlines

Requirements for Students:

  • Be undergraduate or graduate University of Ottawa students
  • Be willing to work in collaboration with and take direction from one or more community groups

 Requirements for Organizations:

 Be located in the National Capital Region

  • Be grassroots or non-profit organizations
  • Have a mandate oriented towards social, economic, and/or environmental justice

Application deadlines: Applications can be submitted at any time.

Application Forms: Please click in the link below for the application forms /or environmental justice

 

 

OPIRG Community Based Research Project

The OPIRG Community Research Project serves to assist students and community groups wishing to conduct research related to social, economic, and environmental justice. OPIRG’s research project nurtures research to support and facilitate the deconstruction and reconstruction of knowledge; which reflects plurality and diversity opposed to the dominant ideas of monoculture.

Participatory research, or action research, or participatory action research, or collaborative research, or community-based participatory research, or community-directed research, or popular education… or no name? The adopted research model, participatory in nature, reflects the process of learning and sharing together, in other words the process of co-generating knowledge, which implies:

  • decolonizing our own minds “by unveiling reality, and thereby coming to know it critically”.
  • comparing knowledge, perspectives and worldviews illuminate and reject some of the monoculture perspectives.
  • “recreating that knowledge. As we attain this knowledge of reality through common reflection and action, we discover ourselves as its permanent retreaters.” (Freire. 1993).

Participatory approaches imply communities and researchers are committed to demystify and democratize research by building partnerships based on mutual reflections, listening and mutual learning; challenging systems and stereotypes

These are the research projects that we house currently:

Safe and Inclusive protest space for everyone: Women and Occupy Movement

In July 2011, Male and female protesters occupied major streets and parks in different American and Canadian cities. They did as a way of manifestation towards the lack of social justice and as dissent toward the cooperates greedy In this anarchist, horizontal and non-hieratical movement female protesters were on the front lines performing different tasks and effectively present in all capacities.  Female protesters in these protest camps thought that these camps should be free of misogyny, sexism, white/ male supremacy, physical and psychological harassment. However, various famous female activists in North America published their testimonies about women experiencing harassment (sometime rape), or at least facing an incredible amount of misogyny and sexism.

Despite the fact that, there are a lot of art projects and scholarly works done on occupy movement, the unpleasant experience of women are not documented or represented well. Therefore, This interdisciplinary research/artistic project aims to accomplish the following goals:

  • Document the sexual violations and harassment that female protesters experienced in the protest camps in 2011 at the Occupy Movement protest camps.
  • Develop strategies for safe and inclusive spaces for women to participate in protest movements
  • Magnitude the voice of the female protesters who was silenced in different protest camps.   

Consequently, We are going to conduct archival research and qualitative research. The archival research is to help us build a critical review of literature and also have material to the artistic components that we aim to create. The qualitative research aims to have an in-depth understanding to the experience of female activists from Ottawa- Gatineau area. Both the scholarly and the artistic outcomes of this project will help social justice activists to be able to develop inclusive social movements.   

Stories From Ottawa (Comic Booklet)

My research proposal with OPIRG consisted of creation, publication and distribution of a comic book, titled Stories from Ottawa. The comics, as the first chapter was submitted to you in December 2016, propose a contemporary, non-conforming and feminine interpretation of migration in the context of my own settlement story. The story unfolds to reveal many emotional, physical and evocative moments, leading into a sharp critique towards the very state and market – oriented concepts of “migrant” and “new comer”, ones with which the comics essentially begin with. It challenges inadequacy of the host city/culture/society, which problematize people. “Migrants” and “new comers” experiences’ may be hugely affected by the negative perceptions regarding success, social inclusion creating social and cultural problems.

The aim of this project was [is] to help emerging [youth] artists and activists engage in story telling [in various forms] as a means for creating awareness and inclusivity through development of community events and workshops in Ottawa.

From December 2016 to January 2017, I submitted the comic project to two different publishers; Creators for Creators from the US and Adastra Comics from Canada. I chose Creators for Creators because of the fact that the organization provides up to 30,000 dollars of funding for successful candidates to accomplish their projects. Adastra Comics was chosen because of their mandate for publishing comics about socio – political struggle. None of the applications were successful; Adastra Comics particularly advised me on a few technical improvements I shall make before finishing the entire book and re-submitting it. While this left us with the potential of publishing the comics in zine format, at this point, with the academic year coming to an end, it seems to be a more professional and effective to begin improving on the existing production and try approaching other publishing companies for next academic year.

I would like to thank OPIRG for recognizing my understanding the dichotomy between formal representation and lived experience of migration, as well for the provided funding which in the long run will help opening avenues for better and broader inclusion of qualitative, participatory and non-linear methods in social research. I believe that we should remain persistent with providing grassroots platforms to those interested in telling their stories, in unique ways and forms, and the prolongation of this project should only encourage us to build our networks, bring potential authors together and make ready a community of story tellers for the coming year.

#MaketheShift

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to housing serves the international community through its mandate. The scope of the mandate is to promote the full realization of adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living. The Special Rapporteur works in both domestic and international contexts to identify best practices as well as challenges and obstacles to the full realization of the right to adequate housing. Moreover, the mandate seeks to provide practical solutions with regard to the implementation of the right to housing. This is done through tools like the Plain Language Reports. This will be the focus of the research presented in this proposal. Plain Language Reports are also a tool to disseminate information and engage communities.

In our working group for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, we focused on the digestibility and dissemination of the Special Rapporteur’s message found within her reports on The Right to Housing and Homelessness and the indivisibility of the Right to Housing and the Right to Life. In this process, we have developed a series of postcards that will be combined with a social media campaign named #MaketheShift. The students have also collected personal testimonies from people all over the world on what housing means to them. We hope to create a short film with these testimonies for an upcoming strategy meeting hosted by the Special Rapporteur. The film and the postcards will be presented in this strategic meeting to a representative of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, the European Federation of National Organisations with the Homeless, ActionAid, Habitat International Coalition (HIC), representatives of the Canadian government, and more.

 

We believe the work carried out in the last four months will have a great impact on the spread of the Special Rapporteur’s message. We also hope that we have exposed the students to practical knowledge dissemination tools as well as to the exciting world of international human rights.

The Collective Intercultural Community Kitchen (CICK)

Update 2017:

The Collective Intercultural Community Kitchen (CICK) members enjoy gathering together to cook, eat, discuss and socialize in spite of focusing on the crisis in our community. Independence and empowerment are the main values for our group, we have gone through a long journey to achieve that.

The CICK started as a program of Lowertown Good Neighbours Community House (LGNCH) in 2014 as a response of Food Security Strategic Priority. We partnered with OPIRG for student to support us in the process of figuring out what the strenghths of the program were and plan for action for the future. This piece of research helped us to realize our own strengths and the independence that we could have in developing of a program that would suit us.

After our CICK meeting in June 2016, we were informed that Lowertown Resource Centre (LRC) was going to take over the LGNCH and it was going to be in effect immediately. Our director lost her job in June 2016. Our Board of Directors was disbanded in August 2016. The control of the house as well as our funds, were transferred to the LRC for the provisionary director to administer.

As far as we knew, there was no prior community consultation for this transfer. A petition sponsored by volunteers and signed by 200 people addressed to city counsellor Matthieu Fleury, was ignored.

The funds to support CICK that were received from OPIRG also were transferred to LRC, causing difficulties for us to get the money to buy food for our monthly cooking. This disruption caused the meetings to be suspended; a direct effect was attendance to drop. A new program coordinator was hired to supervise activities at the LGNCH. Members of the CICK met with her and even though she appeared to understand the independence of the program and promised to write up a contract for CICK to sign; in practice she interfered with CICK activities, handling signing sheets and waiver to the participants, inflicting an intern on the program without even asking the group if they wanted to have a students participating in the CICK activities.

At this time we are looking for alternative meeting places. CICK has continued using space at the LGNCH. It is a constant struggle to maintain our independence and our social ease under the bureaucratic approach of the LRC. Their overseer treatment is detrimental to community growth and to community dignity and therefore adverse to the purpose of CICK.

Update 2016

*Beyond food security A Participatory Study Of Ottawa’s Lowertown East Community Kitchen Program. Rosalind Ragetlie, University of Ottawa. December 2015

Given the community interest in bettering food-related programming, and the financial obstacles in providing this service, this project emerged from a partnership between the Ontario Public Research Interest Group (OPIRG), the Lowertown Good Neighbours Community House (LGNCH), and researchers from the University of Ottawa’s Department of Geography. As a non-partisan group dedicated to social, economic and environmental justice, OPIRG was initially approached by LGNCH regarding food security-related questions. The idea for this research project emerged through a series of conversations between researchers and community representatives to focus the research on community needs. Given the significance of adequate food security and its particular importance in low-income neighbourhoods, this project aimed to actively engage low-income populations in Lowertown East, Ottawa in the participatory development of successful community programming. For the program to be considered successful, it needs to be tailored to community needs and have a positive impact on food security, health, and encourage social strengthening through social and cultural interaction. The long-term goal is to inform funding decisions to support populations in the Lowertown East neighbourhood, and other similar communities, in gaining/sustaining access to more effective community food programs.

Having examined the Collective Intercultural Community Kitchen in the Lowertown East neighbourhood as an example of a program that has evolved to meet community needs, it is clear that the context and process of this particular community kitchen has generated positive results. Despite the challenges of implementing the program, people participanting felt the program had a significant positive impact on their lives in terms of social interaction, cultural learning, skill-building, and validation, empowerment, and both direct and indirect aspects of food security. This research highlights the importance of community food programs accentuating the importance of social networks, community strengthening, empowerment, and individual skill-building in their contributions to food security.

Organizations and funders who implement programs need to recognize that food security results from an interaction of multiple factors, and that there is no single solution to this issue. This needs to be taken into consideration when measuring the success of community food programs, rather than focusing uniquely on how much food is provided, or how much money it saves participants.

This study has also demonstrated the importance of qualitative participatory action research. Stakeholder perspectives are important in order to have a more accurate understanding of the issues at play in a given community, and to identify the issues that are of real concern to community members. Without this understanding, there will continue to be a gap between community needs and interests, and what community programs are provided to address issues such as food security. This type of research also brings a richness and depth to the discussion, and aims to contribute positively to the community. Participatory action research and capacity-building takes time, however, and we were not able to fully incorporate this component into the research given the time constraints. It is important that this part of the research be continued with the aid of OPIRG, and that the results of the process be evaluated.

It is hoped that the results of this research and the ongoing participatory action project will help to inform the programming goals of the Lowertown Good Neighbours Community House, and influence funding decisions for community-based programming related to food security issues, ultimately making healthy and affordable food more accessible and creating stronger more empowered communities. This research may also be shared to benefit other Community Houses and vulnerable populations throughout the city. It is our hope that this research can improve policy and funding decisions at a broader level, and have a positive contribution to the continuation of programs that empower, validate, and enrich the lives of their participants.

Chaudiere Falls and its’ Islands International Dimensions

The recognition of indigenous rights and land claims has become a central and sensitive topic in today’s society, for many countries including Canada. Many countries and governments are trying to find ways to recognize and work with their indigenous populations and their claims, while still trying to maintain and promote economic development and stability. The Algonquin Nation is currently trying to reclaim their rights for the Chaudière Falls land, as it is set to be developed by the Windmill Development Group and Dream Unlimited Corporation. The development group is planning on building new world-class condominiums and low rise buildings next to Chaudiere Falls.  One of its islands, Victoria Island, holds special and important meaning to the Algonquin Indigenous people. This island was a meeting place for negotiating peace between Indigenous populations from across Canada. Victoria Island and the Chaudière Falls were, and still are, considered a sacred site to these Indigenous population and specifically those of the local Algonquin Nation.

     Relations between Nation-states and their Indigenous populations are still proving to be a problematic and difficult in today’s world. Although progress has been made in recognizing the rights of Indigenous in many countries, in many cases the rights and history of the Indigenous populations is ignored, overlooked, or rarely works out in their favour. More often there are new cases of Indigenous rights and land being violated being brought to our attention by the media. In a globalized world, it is easier to see the steps and stance other countries are taking in working with and recognizing the rights of their Indigenous populations. Some countries and Indigenous groups have chosen to try and work out disputes between themselves, while other Indigenous groups have felt the need to seek assistance from the international community such as the United Nations for aid. UNDRIP is a good example of steps countries can take to preserve the interests of its Indigenous nations, while working to repair relationships. It is important that nation-states around the world learn from each other experiences and mistakes, and find a way to cooperate and respectfully work with their Indigenous populations.

Condos and Hydro Expansion: How Green compared with Restoration?

The Zibi development, as described in their master plan, would be an urban “eco-community”, under the non-independently verified “green” development label, called One Planet Living. This label has some subjective targets in terms of the management of ecological health, such as reducing wastes and energy consumption. These goals of the somewhat greenwashed plan could lessen the ecological damage to the region, promoting sustainability and the lack of introduction of anthropogenic environmental modification into the river. However, this development is ultimately demands the urbanisation, and destruction of habitat of the region.  “Urbanisation represents another intensive land use, with strong effects on freshwater biodiversity, resulting in consistent declines in the richness of algal, invertebrate, and fish communities” (Paul and Meyer, 2001). Also, “human land use, in particular urbanisation and intensified agriculture, are widely recognised as major threats to freshwater biodiversity worldwide.” (MEA, 2005; Dudgeon et al., 2006; Vörösmarty et al., 2010) and have been found to impact the integrity of freshwater ecosystems. These detrimental effects also apply to the expansion of the hydro dam, by Energy Ottawa. Through the expansion of this dam, the ecological effects as mentioned earlier would be accentuated. The alteration of flow regimes is often claimed to be the one of the most prevalent and continuous threat to the ecological sustainability of rivers and their associated wetlands (Naiman and others 1995, Sparks 1995, Lundqvist 1998, Ward and others 1999). However, some steps are being taken to manage the ecology of the river, such as a proposed fish ladder, and possible implementation of spawning beds past the dam. Both developments may consider lessening damage, but do not compare to if the region was unaltered and in equilibrium.

Maximum security penitentiary: human right violations

This project was looking resources that were dealing with violations of human rights throughout Federal institutions in Canada. Through investigating specific institutions, their regulations and past violations of these regulations, we were able to get a better understanding of how each institution operates versus how each institution should operate.

After doing some collection of information we were able to summarize several issues within the prison system concerning: mental health struggles not being addressed, Indigenous prisoners without access to programs, a lack of access to religious materials and many others. From this, we set out to provide inmates with as much information as possible to challenge these breaches in human rights.

We were able to gather examples of human rights acts in both national and international legislation; as well as real life examples of human rights violations in penal institutions in court; to discover “how” inmates could realistically make claims on their own behalf.

Our findings were astounding. We were able to analyze documents such as the CCRA, The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, etc. The documents that pertained to inmate’s concerns; entitlement to equal access to health care, refrain from cruel and inhuman punishment, religious freedom, and more. Some examples of past legal cases were found, for example, in the case of Mcmaster v. Canada, the inmate tore his medial meniscus ligament, after repeatedly receiving shoes that did not fit. He took the case to court and succeeded. These examples could serve as a helpful comparison for inmates, when deciding the likely success of taking their own concerns to court. The goal of this project is to help those without voices demand the rights that they deserve.

Outreach trip to Kitcisakik: Reconciliation processes in the decolonization era

Anicinapek members of Kitcisakik have set up an innovative social economy alternative offering visitor stays to raise awareness of anicinape culture and knowledge and as initiation to the local historical and political situation. From February 20 to 22, 2017, OGIRP, in collaboration with professors in Human Kinetics and Geography, organized an outreach trip to Kitcisakik with 19 students from the University of Ottawa. The various experiences with community members have proven to be most fascinating and transformative. Circles of sharing on topics of academic interest such as land claims and relationship to the land, purification ceremonies, storytelling and legends with a local elder, testimonials of experiences at residential schools, snowshoeing to a log house on the edge of a lake, marten skinning, observation of winter traps in the forest, knowledge sharing on medicinal plants, ice fishing, traditional moose meal, night in prospector tent, dream catcher making workshop and guided tour of the community, are examples of activities that have made the students live and see the world through the anicinape lens.

The main lesson of this immersion was undoubtedly to begin grasping the importance of the relationship to the land at the epistemological heart of the Anicinapek culture. This small Algonquin community prefers to “occupy” its ancestral land with indefinite boundaries by maintaining the struggle for its restricted Indigenous hunting and fishing rights and living in the abandonment of the comfort, resources, infrastructure and services normally provided by the government to “reserves”. The vast ancestral lands of the Anicinapek of Kitcisakik in the heart of the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve have been the subject of a long series of invasions that have led to the semi-settlement of families. Formerly nomadic and dispersed on the territory, they are now concentrated in the present village Dozois. Since the early 20th century, forestry intensification, mining and hydroelectric development, railways, road networks and recreational tourism development have contributed to the shrinking of the territory, the transformation of lifestyles and traditional activities of hunting, fishing and trapping, in addition to leading to the loss of the identity and cultural foundations rooted in the land (St-Arnaud et al., 2005). The resistance to be displaced to a reserve and the continuing struggle against the reduction of its territory means that this community of 463 inhabitants lives today in conditions of extreme poverty (economic) in a temporary village near a water retention basin to control the current for the Rapide 7 hydroelectric dam. The territory is anishnabe, partly leased by Crown Lands (Quebec) for Hydro Québec activities where ironically, family homes have no electricity or running water. Added to this are the often-tragic repercussions of the residential school experienced by many adults in the community.

Students have been able to physically and spiritually live a great lesson of resilience by being confronted to the neocolonial intricacies of our modern world. This self-critical reflection is necessary and is at the very heart of reconciliation processes in the decolonization era.  

Living ad Coexisting Well

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This project looks at developing a committed understanding of how “well being” is lived and experienced by indigenous mature cultures.  Humans and non humans have coexisted well and in harmony in ancestral times. Our project relies on the wisdom kept by Indigenous Elders from different Indigenous backgrounds. Almost of all these cultures are actively resisting the imposition of coloniality in different degrees. By means of this project we deliberately seek creating a web of  front line protectors of the land, the waters and all expressions of life and living systems.

Activities include interviewing and conversing with indigenous Elders and grasping the wisdom behind their cultural ethos about being just one species among the many that make up the wheel of life and becoming good ancestors to our futures generations.

We are an unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin territory and one of our main concerns is to understand the multitude of dimensions of Mino Bimaadiziwin (being alive well).

Participatory Evaluation Analysis: Case of a Youth Intervention Program

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The purpose of this report is to recount and an- alyze a participatory evaluation process of an intervention program of yoga, meditation and art expression designed for street youth, which was run in Ottawa Winter 2013 Spring 2014. This anal- ysis is a good example to illustrate a participatory process. The process starts from the premise that the youth and other people involved in the process have the ability of sharing and learning from each other. Relationships tend to be established and developed in the most possible equal way, based on trust and reciprocity. The participatory process requires awareness on power relationships, differ- ent agendas of people involved, and clarifications of the roles. The structure needs flexibility and acceptance of inherent messiness of the process.

The approach taken by this research was partic- ipatory, with the idea of creating an opportunity for the youth to express themselves and lead the process of reflecting about the proposed program.

Participatory framework was understood as a way of offering an opportunity to people taking part of the program to have a voice and be active part of the process. For this specific case, we acknowl– edged several limitations.

The first limitation in importance was the fact of not being able to have youth as full participants to be able to develop a full participatory framework. Designing, collecting analyzing, writing and dis- seminating are the different stages involved in a participatory research process. It is necessary that all parts are present from the beginning to define agendas, interests, roles and responsibilities. As Rogers Hart’s ladder shows, we were aiming for rung #6 (Figure 1), where even though adults could initiate the actions they can share decisions with youth. “Full involvement of youth in partic- ipatory research requires that they be involved in all aspects of the research process from inception to dissemination” (Funk, 2012) when youth are at that level of engagement they are empowered by their participation (p. 289).

Secondly, the team felt very strongly that there was not a unified position regarding youth in– terventions and how we understood youth. The traditional top/down approach was very clear at times. The use of terms such as “youth at risk” could really describe the two different visions present within the process. The greater part of the knowledge produced about teenagers and youth describes their realities according to a number of problems (dropout, haras- sment, substance abuse, depression, suicide, violence, eating disorders, uses of technologies, etc.). All this certain- ly provides relevant knowledge to interve- ne and alleviate these difficulties, but also develops a vision of young people as frail, in danger or “at risk”. This negative perspective becomes the dominant paradigm to dis- cuss adolescence and youth (Caron and Soulière, 2013). Critical Youth Studies attempt since 1990s to recognize youth as social actors capable of re- flection and action, able to make choices, express themselves and give meaning to their lives. For this perspective it is essential to include youth themselves and their experiences in the development of research and programs. It is by multiplying these experiences rooted in the youth lived realities that can produce positive perspective and knowledge that could change and redefine language around youth (Caron and Soulière, 2013).

As a team we acknowledged that these limitations could have been addressed by giving more time to create a safe space where people would be able to openly talk about their positions so it would not be a place for assumptions. It would have been nec- essary for the “adults” in the team, including the instructor, to have some training on power with and youth engagement dynamics, to understand from where the youth members of the team were coming from. That would have addressed power relationship issues as well as equality, trust, and reciprocity. 

Recommendations:

The recommendations are inspired in the experience we have had with this program. Recommen- dations include ideas so the steps also include the evaluation process and the way of collecting infor- mation for the program. The same structure can be used for any type of program YSB could develop with youth.

  • Supported by YSB staff, youth could develop a structure open to content filling oriented to self- care, healthy mind, healthy body. Youth could be recruited among different programs, aiming at few key youth leader to recruit among their own networks ü The program of yoga and me- diation sessions could be offered weekly
  • The Yoga instructor could be a young instructor, part of the programs at the YSB. Recruitment of the instructor should be first done at YSB. In case the yoga instructor is coming from some- where else, the instructor will have to receive youth engagement and “power with” training
  • Young people involved and Yoga Instructor should receive training in participatory action research and evaluation
  • Youth participating of the program and yoga instructor should develop the yoga and meditation program. They will have to decide if they want to set themes in advance for each session or if they prefer to identify the theme during the check-in time of the session.
  • The sessions should be structure in ways that young people could give feedbacks to the in- structor every session (e.g. debriefing session at the end or check out time). Feedback will have to be included in successive sessions
  • A midterm debriefing session could help to reflect in the process and readdress possible problematic issues
  • Final debriefing session would also contribute to collect information for the evaluation of the program
  • Collectively the group should be able to put together a short report indicating the benefits of the program and how to improve it  
Gaining Insight: A Community-Based Approach to Understanding Physical Activity and Weight Gain in Pregnancy with First Nations and Métis Women

 

This project is progressing well through phase two of the original proposal. As reported in August, there were a couple of minor issues that slowed down the anticipated plan: waiting for ethics approval, changing staff contacts within the Odawa Native Friendship Centre (ONFC), and re-location of the ONFC to another site within Ottawa. As with all community-based research approaches, delays of this nature can be quite common. I have completed 15 key- informant interviews with professionals within the Ottawa community that work with pregnant urban First Nations women. These interviews were intended to provide greater insight into the factors that interact to influence urban First Nations women’s weight gain in pregnancy from their perspective in the field.  I have completed critical discourse analysis of this data and will have discussed findings with the project advisory board.  The advisory board approved the second phase of the proposed project where a community member and myself conducted semi-structured interviews and focus groups with a total of 20 pregnant women/mothers in the community. The data from these interviews and focus groups are currently being transcribed and prepared for data analysis. The focus groups have revealed the resource that pregnant women/mothers would find beneficial for them and their communities. The women also agreed to the resource they would like created. 3 h

Francine Darroch defended her PhD dissertation in 2016. Francine is from the Department of Human Kinetic at the University of Ottawa.

Gaining Insight: A Community-Based Approach to Understanding Physical Activity and Weight Gain in Pregnancy with First Nations and Métis Women

National Survey of Queer Student Service Operations

This project has supported two conversations, one with the University of Ottawa Pride Centre and one with the LGBTQ Centre at Carleton University, to discuss what it is like to operate a queer student centre.

The presence of queer student centres (QSCs) across Canadian universities and colleges is largely unknown. It is an important area of investigation since queer-identified students have previously identified several benefits of these services, including receiving support from other queer individuals. The focus of the current study was to determine (a) the number of QSCs in Canadian universities and colleges; (b) factors predicting their existence; (c) types of support they receive; and (d) future directions. A national online survey of 156 institutions and two in-person focus groups 2) were conducted. Descriptive analyses and a logistic regression were completed, and qualitative responses of the survey and the focus groups were thematically coded. Results demonstrate that universities and institutions with larger student populations are more likely to have a centre and that institutional support is crucial for their operations. Implications for the sustainability and creation of centres are discussed.

The research has been presented at GSAED conference and at the Society for Community Research and Action conference in June 2013.  A journal article has been published at Higher Education, we plan on submitting the paper to Pride Centres across the country.

The activist collaborative translation

Translation and ideologies (religious or secular), have always had a complex and tortuous relationship. Sometimes simple tool of propaganda and dissemination of ideologies, the translation may also contribute to resistance to physical or spiritual ideologies that promote domination. The activist translation can contribute to the debate on how translators can be agents of change in translation called collaborative, community or voluntary.

A journal peer review article from my presentation at the 2013 Glendon College Conference was published in Tradução em Revista18, 2015/1, p. 160. As a result of my participation in the Congress of Brazil (2013), I contacted the Brazilian Belas Infieis translatological review and an article has been translated into Portuguese and will appear in the next issue. Another, related to the presentation in the conference (on the subject at hand), should also be considered for publication.

Hidden Bruises

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About the film:

Hidden Bruises is an in-progress independent documentary film that aims to provide a face for Caribbean persons who are survivors of HIV&AIDS and Violence.

A pervasive culture of violence exists in the Caribbean region, including gun violence, intimate partner violence and sexual abuse. Murder rates in the Caribbean are higher than in any other region of the world, and assault rates including rape are significantly above the world average. With an HIV prevalence rate averaging 1%, the Caribbean is also the world’s second most affected region by the AIDS epidemic.

The question therefore arose, “What are the intersections that exist between HIV and Violence in the Caribbean?”

Hidden Bruises seeks to promote discussion, engagement and awareness about the intersections that exist between HIV and Violence with specific emphasis on the inadequate systems, practices and policies that further hinder the fight to end HIV&AIDS and Violence in the Caribbean region.

Why are we fundraising?
We need your help to complete the full-length documentary film. Through similar fundraising events, it is our hope that the team may return to the different Caribbean countries and communities previously visited to complete filming. The funds raised will also help cover the costly post-production phase, which includes archival footage and regional television segments, voice-over narration, composing, picture and sound editing, and translation.
About us:
Skylarc Pictures is a small activism-oriented independent film company from Canada and Barbados that uses film and arts education to create social and environmental change across the Caribbean region and beyond.
Hidden Bruises is produced in formal partnership with The Institute of Gender & Development Studies: Nita Barrow Unit (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados).
Director/Cinematographer/Co-Writer: SKYLARC, Canadian-Barbadian Filmmaker
Co-Writer: Dr. Charmaine Crawford, Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies (University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados).
Producer: Jessica Jaja, MA Candidate in Human Geography (University of Ottawa)
Narrator: Adrian Green, Award-Winning Barbadian Spoken Word Poet
 
Clarity

Clarity

The project aimed to create and sustain a dialogue between the youth of today and our culture to be able to create a healthier future. It is our belief that we cannot start this dialogue without having a clear and unbiased view of the reality of today’s culture around sexuality, identity, relationships styles, social dynamics, stigma and oppression. The outcome play was performed during the Ottawa Fringe Festival 2014.

Stories of the Land

Strengthening and Highlighting Traditional Healing Practices for Indigenous Youth: This research project with the First Nations Moose Factory is moving forward in the spirit of community engagement and the direction as set forth by the community. Seeking to honor the community’s request for meaningful research, I am preparing for a third field trip into the community to confirm the data collected and to ensure that it supports the community’s work in their cultural renewal and land-based programming. Some of my next steps are to complete the interviews transcriptions, and to go back to the participants for verification of the Cree words, to ensure accuracy of spelling and meaning. The research into the relationship of grandmother songs and cultural healing methods is beginning to take shape. Again, it will be in collaboration with the community that I will be able to confirm the emerging themes and theoretical framework. In July 2014 at the community’s annual gathering of our people event, I hope to share the findings and address any further precision required in my research. I appreciate OPRIG’s support to offer stipends to the research participants.

Cindy defended her thesis last year. An Indigenous Methodology for Coming to Know Milo Pimatisiwin as Land-Based Initiatives for Indigenous Youth. Janice Cindy Gaudet 2016

 

Mining Watch

University of Ottawa pension funds and their links with (Canadian) mining companies exploiting at home and abroad.This link offers a report about the research a student did on the subject.

Developing a Food Policy for Ottawa U

The goal for this project is to map organizations, programs, and activities on campus around food issues with the goal of making the info available and visible. This gathering will inform the next steps which will be working with different groups around campus, including professors and students to develop a food policy for Ottawa University Campus.

Organizing ICOPA 15 on Algonquin Territory

ICOPA Coference in El Ecuador, 2014

Exploring Social Identity Dynamics, Collective and Horizontal Leadership Issues, and Fluidity in the International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA): This research project aims to use a participation-action method to explore abolitionist social identities, the dynamics of collective and horizontal leadership structures (very common among activist organizing) as well as the relationships, tensions, and support between the fluid international group and the local committee taking responsibility for the conference. We examine the possibilities of producing critical knowledge that may serve future ICOPA committees as well as other activist organizations. Further, we explore the possibility and essentiality of transmitting lessons learned that can traverse the spatial and temporal realms of this group. The lead researchers have recruited a total of six participants from the local ICOPA organizing committee who, collaboratively will set out the parameters of the project . We obtained approval from the University’s Ethics Review Board on February 10th. We have prepared a number of resources to present to the group that will assist us in tracking our thinking and feelings about the conference activities in which we are engaged. One of the methods that we are proposing to use is journaling.

Our first meeting will take place on Friday, February 28, in order to discuss the parameters of the research, our roles individually and collectively, and the various elements that would be best focused on during our journaling. We plan to continue to use journal-writing as a way to track our activities and our thinking about these activities in the run-up and during the conference which will be held June 13-15. It is hoped that we shall have the opportunity to publish an article on the dynamics of organizing ICOPA in the upcoming Special Issue of Penal Field/Champs penal. Moreover, it is our intention to transmit the findings and best practices gleaned from the research to the organizers of the next ICOPA venue, scheduled to take place in 2016. We will also share our findings more broadly with the large ICOPA family.

This project produced a peer reviewed article published at Penal Field Journal: “The International Conference on Penal Abolition (ICOPA): Exploring Dynamics and Controversies as observed at ICOPA 15 on Algonquin Territory”

Theatre of the Oppressed

Theatre of the Oppressed as a way of creating awareness about penal abolition: This project has the goal of using Theatre of the oppressed as a way of creating awareness about penal abolition. The outcome from this project will be part of a session during the ICOPA conference in 2014

UOttawa Restorative Garden

University of Ottawa Restorative Garden campus pilot project seeks to understand the potential positive impacts of contact with nature at the university, with a view to creating an environment which helps to restore the following:

  • physical and mental energy
  • the ability to cope with and recover from stress
  • the ability to cope with and recover from stress cognitive vitality and improved capacity to process information
  • natural diversity and beauty
  • human-nature interaction
Healthy Transportation and Vulnerable Populations

Update 2017

University of Ottawa students continue to volunteer and work to bring improvements to lower income neighbourhoods in Ottawa, through a variety of actions intended to help make communities better for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit users.

Significant accomplishments have included convincing the City of Ottawa to introduce a monthly transit pass for people living on low incomes. The EquiPass, to be introduced in April 2017, will cost $57 per month, and support for it was gained by students who helped in the collection of 3,000 signatures on a petition calling on the City to create the pass. The EquiPass should help part-time students, in addition to thousands of working poor people, and others struggling to afford the necessities of life.

The Healthy Transportation Coalition has helped to coordinate these activities and in some cases students have been hired to work at OPIRG in a paid position for the summer months to do outreach in the lower income neighbourhoods the Coalition is working in.

The six neighbourhoods (Heron Gate, Bayshore, Vanier North, Cummings, Bells Corners West, Hawthorne Meadows) were selected thanks to an analysis provided by Dr. Elizabeth Kristjansson and the Ottawa Neighbourhood Study. Kristjansson is a full Professor in the School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa. She is a health measurement expert whose place-based research focuses on the socio-economic determinants of health. Data she provided detailed the 15 neighbourhoods in Ottawa that are the least socio-economically advantaged as well as the neighbourhoods with the worst walkability.

Students with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) knowledge and skills then helped create maps of the neighbourhoods that showed what existed in terms of pedestrian, cycling, and public transit infrastructure, and what was planned in terms of improvements between the present day and 2031, according to the City’s Transportation Master Plan. The Coalition then prioritized which six neighbourhoods to work in, based on which of the 15 neighbourhoods did not seem to be prioritized for many improvements.

In the months and years ahead, the Healthy Transportation Coalition hopes to work with the City to ensure the following improvements are made:

  1. a) Inclusive PUBLIC TRANSIT: OC Transpo single fare discount for low-income people, reduced cost EquiPass ($42/month), on-line booking system for Para Transpo, similar to Wheel-Trans Online Trip Booking system in Toronto
  2. b) CYCLISTS, PEDESTRIANS: We need excellent safe cycling, pedestrian connections from low income neighbourhoods to Rapid Transit Stations from 5 km distance
  3. c) Affordable housing in Transit-Oriented Developments around LRT Stations, ensuring the ‘air space’ the City owns is filled with as much affordable housing as possible
  4. d) HOW TO HELP PAY FOR IT: Study road user fees, that low income people would be exempt from paying

 The involvement of student volunteers in working to achieve these policy priorities will help ensure they are realized more quickly than would otherwise be the case.

 Ongoing volunteer and potential summer job opportunities for students should continue for the months and years ahead. For more information, please don’t hesitate to learn more about the Coalition at www.healthytransportation.ca or contact trevor@healthytransportation.ca.

 

Update 2016

The goal of this project is to determine whether or not vulnerable populations are well-served by a Healthy Transportation network of sidewalks, walking paths, multi-use paths, bike lanes and public transportation in Ottawa, and what improvements are needed in policies, infrastructure, access and affordability.

For that purpose six neighbourhoods have been identified as priority. During this last year we have surveyed and developed neighbourhoods profiles for four neighbourhoods (Herongate, Bayshore, Cummings and Vanier North). Surveys have helped us to learn about their access/needs to healthy transportation. We have also developed neighbourhoods profiles including maps using participatory mapping sessions. We have held 10 sharing circles between Heron Gate and Bayshore. During the summer active transportation audits were done at both neighbourhoods . We have presented the findings and needs at Bayshore and neigbourhood members have prioritized them and formed working groups to actively address those priorities. Working groups will be also working in developing pop up projects around the neighbourhood.

There are two main, more general outcomes from this project that will support healthy transportation issues around Ottawa, those are: Ottawa low income transit pass petition with more than 1500 signatures and toll road feasibility assessment approved by City Council.

It’s Not a Death Sentence

 

It’s Not a Death Sentence, a Public Service Announcement created by Skylarc Pictures for the AIDS Committee of Ottawa; it is a 60-second Public Service Announcement it is not a death sentence  challenges viewers to change their perceptions on living with HIV from that of a death sentence to a life of fulfillment. The goal is to suggest ways for the activist community and general public can participate to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

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