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Message from CBR Canada co-chairs

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

2020 was a year of disruption and transformation, a year that rapidly and immensely changed the way we live, work, and engage with one another for better and for worse. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a great impact on institutions and community organizations alike, but no group experienced more pain than marginalized groups and communities.

Like so many other organizations across Canada, CBR Canada worked hard to pivot our programs and services to meet the challenges of this unparalleled time. This fall, CBR Canada provided a number of scaffolding programs and services to enable community engaged researchers, both from academic institutions and community organizations, to navigate the new pandemic reality. Specifically, we hosted a webinar and online discussions about innovative ways to continue community engaged scholarship in an online world. We have also used our online webinar series to address important social issues of the day, concerns that don’t slow down or perhaps are even exacerbated by COVID19. For example, the series entitled Community-Based Research with Racialized Communities created space for over 300 participants from around the world to listen and learn from the expertise and lived experience of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) communities. In early 2021, we are excited to offer the Community Based Research Excellence Tool (CBRET) training as an online course.

As we continue our webinar series in 2021, CBR Canada will be addressing another very important topic: decolonizing community-based research. Facilitated by Indigenous scholar and CBR Canada board member Charoltte Loppe, the winter and spring series will offer an exciting program of six webinars and live-discussions to deepen understanding of colonizing research, cultural safety, Indigenous worldviews, etc. The goal of this series is to learn how to approach research that first and foremost benefits Indigenous communities. In CBR Canada’s strategic plan we have outlined our desire to be allies to Indigenous communities and organizations across Canada; to support the important work they are leading.

In spring 2021 CBR Canada will be hosting an awards gala on the theme of celebrating excellence in community-based research nationally. The online event is a one-year place holder for CBR Canada’s every other year C2UExpo in person gathering. The call for nominations will come across your desk early in the new year. We encourage you to nominate those who are doing great work in the community engaged research field.

This past year we have taken the time to reach out and connect to the impressive list of CBR Canada members and partners across North America. We have held more than 25 meetings with member organizations to connect face-to-face, well Zoom to Zoom, to discuss how best CBR Canada can support the collective efforts of the network. And even as the year winds down, this December 17th is an event called Goodbye 2020 where we will reflect on lessons learned and emphasize learnings to bring forward into 2021 to better serve our diverse and often marginalized communities. Finally, based on members input, in the new year we will be offering community of practice groups, an opportunity to expand networks, share challenges, resources, lessons learned, and inspire new collaborative research projects. Registration for the groups will be open in early January.

As we reflect on the many ways that CBR Canada has pivoted during the pandemic, 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 - reciprocity, co-creation, community-driven, participatory and action-oriented – are all prerequisites to support a path forward for our entire network and society at large. Teamwork and self-reflection may be the most useful tools researchers can apply in any research context, especially when engagement, rigour, and adaptability/innovation are needed.

As the year 2020 comes to a close we are emboldened by the strength of the CBR Canada network. Under the banner of a new strategic plan we are united and a well-functioning network (with almost 1400 followers on Twitter and LinkedIn). And with the holiday season soon to be upon us, it is time to sit back and relax, take time to-recharge, turn off Zoom, and find moment of peace and happiness.

On behalf of our remarkable Board of Directors, as co-chairs of CBR Canada, we wish all and each of you Happy Holidays.

Joanna and Steve

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