Weaving research into the fabric of the community

By Tara Sharpe

Much like the quiet industrious efforts of the Coast Salish knitters of southern Vancouver Island—whose story UVic helped showcase at a recent campus presentation in January—the University of Victoria’s Office of Community-Based Research (OCBR) has woven itself into the very fabric of community to facilitate action in the interests of collective well-being.
The OCBR opened its doors on June 19, 2007, to facilitate local, national and international research partnerships and help influence policy with evidence-based recommendations. Ever since, the OCBR team has been working hard to position UVic at the forefront of community-based research.

In April the OCBR offices will move from the Continuing Studies Building to University House 3, near the edge of Mystic Vale. And starting this July Dr. Budd Hall, founding director and professor in UVic’s School of Public Administration, will be taking a year-long sabbatical. Well-known UVic historian Dr. John Lutz, initiator of the award-winning Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History website project at UVic, will take up the leadership role during Hall’s absence.

Community-based research stems from projects carried out collaboratively on the front lines of social, economic and environmental activism to influence positive change locally, nationally and globally.

“Community-based research practitioners and institutions are working across our nation to explore and act on the root causes of community issues,” says Hall. “I’m proud of the contribution the OCBR has made so far toward these goals, and I look forward to even more good work.”
“UVic’s OCBR has been a national leader in linking the wisdom of communities and university scholars to tackle crucial community issues, ranging from homelessness and child poverty to Aboriginal health and adaptation to climate change,” says Lutz. “We need each other. On the one hand, there is enormous untapped potential in our students and our faculty when it comes to helping communities, while on the other, we at UVic need help from community groups to ground our research in real situations where it will be of use.”

Since its inception, the OCBR has developed a UVic working group on housing and homelessness, in collaboration with UVic’s Faculty of Human and Social Development; conducted a survey with 200 Vancouver Island leaders and networks involved in solving homelessness and food security; helped engage the Indigenous Higher and Adult Education Association in BC on how to get more Aboriginal students into higher education.
It has also co-founded the Vancouver Island Community Research Alliance with island post-secondary institutions; led the development of a national report requested by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in 2009 to explore funding models for community-based research; and led numerous other activities including coordinating various community mapping projects.

The OCBR has also been busy helping to organize workshops and forums on campus including the “Teaching CBR at UVic” lunchtime series in collaboration with UVic’s Learning and Teaching Centre, and the CANEUEL series. CANEUEL (pronounced “cheynewel”) is the SENCOTEN word for “working together.”

The Jan. 20 film screening and panel discussion of the documentary The Story of the Coast Salish Knitters was the first of the CANEUEL lunchtime sessions this season. Métis filmmaker Dr. Christine Welsh (women’s studies) produced the one-hour film and was one of the Jan. 20 panelists.
The last two CANEUEL sessions take place March 22 and Apr. 8. Details »

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