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Fall 2020 Message from CBR Canada Co-Chairs

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

This fall is like no other. The past few months have been challenging for our community partners across Canada and around the world. Many of these organizations exist on tight budgets going from grant to grant. Additionally, these organizations continue to work hard to keep employees gainfully employed and to support marginalized people at distance. Support for our most vulnerable populations has been apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. We all heard stories about the negative impact of segregating people in crowded long-term care facilities. And many more…

In the academic world the fall always feels like a new beginning, a time of renewal as eager, shy, full of hope first year students join us on campus for the new adventures. But with the pandemic and recent outpouring of anti-racism sentiment across North America and around the world, this fall is different. Post-secondary institutions across Canada will hold most courses online while the academic community begin a labour action on protesting police brutality and racial injustices. Efforts to support community-based research have experienced significant recalibration.

Yes, the landscape for community-based research has changed, both within the academy and for community stakeholders. At CBR Canada, we understand that our collective work is more important than ever. As we confront the challenges of the day, the very principles imbedded in community-based research can find a path forward. Teamwork and self-reflection may be the most useful tool researchers can apply in any research context. Do the best or better today. Celebrate and build on collective strengths for tomorrow.

And what have we done at CBR Canada to help pivot to a new realty? In the spring, we hosted a series of online discussions to create space for participants from around the world to share how they are adjusting their work to meet the challenges of COVID-19. We have completed a new strategic plan that outlines how we can implement our mandate for the next five years. We held meetings with member organizations to review the plan and discuss how CBR Canada can best support the collective efforts of the network. This fall, we are hosting sessions about how to approach community engaged research with racialized communities and exploring how to best support community led research, with a primary focus on Indigenous communities across Canada. Finally, coming in winter 2021, an online version of our signature program - Community Based Research Excellence Tool (CBRET) will be available.

As Bob Dylan once said, “the times, they are a changing”. This line has never been more applicable than in 2020. Regardless, here we are, with more challenges to be accepted, addressed, and solved. CBR Canada’s network of ‘all-in’ organizations, whose members learn from each other, could help tackle some of these challenges. Moving forward in the spirit of reconciliation, we will be engaging respectfully with Indigenous communities, collectives and organizations across Canada to pursue mutually reciprocal relationships and learning opportunities. On behalf of our amazing Board of Directors, as co-chairs of CBR Canada, we are humbled and honoured to help nurture an authentic space for shared learning among our remarkable membership. Together we embrace the change.

Joanna and Steve

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