by Aaron Franks, CEHE Research Associate
With the Solstice and the Canada Day weekend just behind us, and many people contemplating holidays (maybe even taking some!), we thought the time was right to pause and take stock of what we at the Centre are up to, and offer our readers and collaborators a view of what to expect in the year to come.
New faces, goodbyes…
I joined CEHE as Research Associate in January this year, as CEHE founding co-director Tara Zupancic moved on to other challenges. Tara continues to be involved in the Knowledge Leaders in Children’s Environmental Health pilot project on ‘equity-focused knowledge translation’ (EqKT), particularly through her participation in the Knowledge Leader project “Bonding through Bars” : giving voice to silenced children of incarcerated mothers.
In April of this year, CEHE became a formal partner of long-time collaborating organization Canadian partnership for Children’s Health and the Environment (CPCHE; (www.healthyenvironmentforkids.ca
), and of course CPCHE has been an important part of Knowledge Leaders and will continue to be as we explore the future of EqKT and children’s environmental health in Canada.
Our SSHRC-funded three year project in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), “Revitalizing Japantown?: (www.revitalizingjapantown.ca
) a unifying study of human rights, branding and place in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside” picked up this spring after a winter of internal housekeeping. Through the goodwill and hard work of several local community organizations, including Potluck Café Society and Catering, PACE, Gallery Gachet, the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society and the Carnegie Community Action Project, this June I was privileged to meet and interview residents on the topic of human rights and the spaces and amenities of the DTES, including the area once known as “Japantown” or “Poweru Gai” (Powell Street). We will be continuing these personal interviews and meetings with community organizations in late August, with a general community consultation gathering slated for mid-Autumn 2013. Before that, the “Revitalizing Japantown?” research team will be represented at this year’s Powell Street Festival (3-4 August at Oppenheimer Park) by the project’s three Master’s students: Jenna Drabble, Scott McCulloch and Trevor Wideman.
CEHE and affiliated graduate students
As we move forward with “Revitalizing Japantown?”, the contributions of our graduate students will be front and centre. Jenna, Scott and Trevor’s research projects each stand alone as original and dynamic research projects while also significantly fleshing out a working conceptualisation of rights in this historically contested and marginalized neighbourhood. Jenna’s focus on the right to food politicizes food in relations to health, equality and spatial justice in an area that is in many ways awash in things to eat – but much of it low quality and provided through a charity model. She is supervised by CEHE Director Jeff Masuda. Scott, supervised by University of Manitoba Sociologist Assistant Professor Sonia Bookman, will be conducting interviews with Powell Street Festival organizers past and present, as well as area business and cultural leaders and ‘entrepreneurs’, investigating the role of identity and branding in the changing face of the city. Trevor, also supervised by Jeff, is investigating the current Local Area Planning Process, a process between the City of Vancouver and an array of diverse local groups in the DTES which is meant to conclude this November – though the consequences will last (and be fought over) long after. He is also assisting greatly with the archival elements of “Revitalizing Japantown?”
Other CEHE students continue to do innovative work in Winnipeg, and are at various stages of their research. Dominic Alaazi is preparing to defend his Master’s thesis “Aboriginality, Homelessness, and the Post-revanchist City” at the University of Manitoba this summer, and this Autumn Jeff will begin co-supervising Andrew Kaufman, a recent Urban Studies graduate of the University of Winnipeg. Karina Cardona Claros, who was featured in an interview on this site in March, is continuing her fieldwork on “Coerced Mobility in the Ableist City” and Cheryl Sobie has continued her extensive collaboration with Ka Ni Kanichihk in Winnipeg into her participatory action research-based Master’s work, “Mobilizing Low-Income Aboriginal Women’s Right to Food in the City”.
Knowledge Leaders in Children’s Environmental Health
We invite you to look closely at the work and commentary by the twenty diverse “Knowledge Leaders in Children’s Environmental Health” and their five interdisciplinary and multi-sited teams (see http://www.cehe.ca/postprogram).
They each have done great work since first coming together in Vancouver in 2012, and several of the five teams are committed to continuing their exploration of equity-focused knowledge translation in their team settings beyond the term of the KL project. Those researchers, advocates and community service providers whose teams will shortly conclude continue to find ways to implement and reflect on EqKT principles of transparency, inclusivity and humility in their own diverse workplaces. We are delighted to announce that wherever these leaders in Canadian environmental health are in their journeys, we will be re-convening – in Toronto and ‘virtually’ online – in late Autumn for an intensive workshop reflecting on the five team experience, and how the lessons and insights from this experiment might relate to a transformative equity-focused approach within the institutions, settings and working relationships practitioners of children’s environmental health find themselves on a daily basis.
We will be pausing the publication of new research on this site until September, but please continue to visit our Research and Community Events section on the right side of the home page. From Aaron, Jeff, Robert and our students and colleagues, we wish you a positive summer with time to relax and recharge.