Tara Zupancic, MPH (Co-Founder)
Tara is Co-founder of the Centre for Environmental Health Equity, and served as Associate Director until 2013. She is now Director of Habitus Research where she works both locally and internationally to advance equity and the priorities of vulnerable or disadvantaged groups in health and environmental policy.
Jenna Drabble, MA
I completed a Master of Arts in Geography at the University of Manitoba in 2015 under the supervision of Dr. Jeff Masuda. While in this program, I developed an appreciation for the critical and place-based approach to analysis within social geography, and I was motivated to study the socio-spatial processes that shape the geographies of urban food environments. My thesis research took place in the Downtown Eastside community of Vancouver, where I worked alongside community activists and examined efforts to assert the right to food in the midst of an entrenched charitable food system and the increasing threat of gentrification and displacement on the low-income community.
From 2014-2016 I worked as a community coordinator for WestEnd Commons, a non-profit social housing project in Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhood. Recently I began working on a research project with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives about women’s experiences of homelessness in Winnipeg and also work part-time as the Events and Engagement Coordinator at CCEDNet-MB. In my spare time, I do beekeeping with my partner and our friend in Sanford, MB and tend to our fledgling honey business.
Thesis online: http://mspace.lib.umanitoba.ca/handle/1993/30314
Alix Gallant, CEHE Intern
I am in my final year of my undergraduate degree at Queen’s University. Originally from Toronto, I have spent the last three years in Kingston majoring in Health Studies with an emphasis in social determinants of health. For my fourth year independent project, I have the pleasure of working with Dr. Masuda and the CEHE team.
My current area of research is deprivation mapping and its translation into popular understandings of health. I have always had a passion for health and its inequities, and I am very happy to be working with such an amazing organization as I work towards a graduate program in Health Promotion.
Julie Rempel, (Intern)
My desire to addressJulie Remple health inequity and research practices stem from a long academic history of varying fields of study and interest. I began my undergraduate degree majoring in biochemistry. Initially, I set out to utilize my major as a method to lead me to the field of medicine, however I quickly took an interest with research. Following this interest, I had many opportunities to work with talented professors within the community of health research on projects that ranged from examining the bioactive and antioxidant component of canola oil and impacts on the cardiovascular system, to nutrigenomics and vitamin transporter genes. While these areas of research were very valuable and extremely interesting, I soon noticed that a large portion of the progress in these areas of research relied heavily on the economic viability of the results. I began questioning then who would benefit from the research that was being conducted in my field of interest and whether this research was actually being done to address the root issues found within the existing global community in terms of health inequality. As Nelson Mandela famously stated: “Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times – times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry, and wealth accumulation – and they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils.”
I have been involved with organizations like UNICEF, Save the Children, Amnesty International and Doctors without Borders very early on in my life. Through my volunteer experience, I was introduced to a world in which an individual’s geographic location at birth directly influenced rates of both survival and disease. Children and particularly young children are the most vulnerable to environmental health hazards. Through the desire to be a part of producing sustainable solutions to these issues, I changed directions in my education and pursued a BSc majoring in Human Nutritional Sciences with minors in psychology and chemistry.
My belief is that every child has the right to grow up with the resources to live with full potential and that ending inequality’s “lottery at birth” reality should be one of the biggest priorities for the future. Particularly, my interest falls with examining how children’s health and development are affected by inequities like food insecurity, poor housing conditions, exposure to toxins and trauma. As such, I plan to continue on to graduate studies in the area of public health, to explore this issue.
Daniel Herpai, MSc (Intern)
I am from Hungary and moved to Winnipeg a year ago. I was born and raised in the second biggest city of Hungary (Miskolc) and because of the demographic changes throughout the years I also studied in the second biggest city of the country (Debrecen). I finished my Masters in Geography specializing in Urban and Rural Development. I wrote my final thesis on renewable energy sources and their social and economic effects.
After finishing university I worked in the field of regional development and then in the NGO environmental sphere. Before I moved to Winnipeg I spent two years in England doing various jobs, developing my English language skills and gaining some life experience. The work and life experiences I had after my studies taught me a lot, broadened my way of thinking and shaped my ethos.
Since last September I have worked at University of Manitoba as a sessional instructor in the Geography Department. Although for a long time I didn’t feel that teaching was my calling, in the past few years I have come to realize that besides research, teaching is the other area within which I would like to work. Following this vision I would like to start my PhD studies in the next few years.
Within Geography I am interested in the topics of renewable energies, demographics and urban geography. I am fascinated with investigating these topics from different perspectives within various cultural contexts. Last year I took part in a Truth and Reconciliation research project on the use of attachment theory for reconciliation purposes which opened my interest in First Nation culture and history. Additionally to the above mentioned I am generally concerned with the possibilities of sustainable development and how to use the power and benefits of community life.
Vanessa Sloan Morgan, MA (Project Coordinator)
I am a sixth generation settler from unceded Coast Salish territories. Born and raised on Vancouver Island, the west coast’s socio-political, cultural, and physical environment acted as a stark backdrop for me to view the manifested dichotomies between privileged wealth and the exploitation of peoples and places. Drawing motivation from their surroundings, lived experiences and, often challenging, nudges from a handful of influential mentors and authors, over the years, my academic focus has locked upon localized colonial constructs that they were inextricably a part of.
In 2010, I relocated to traditional Mi’kmaw territories (Halifax, Nova Scotia) where I completed a Masters in Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University in Fall 2012. My graduate research was located within a larger, longstanding community-based participatory research partnership that focused upon the implementation of a modern treaty on Vancouver Island. Informed by anti-colonial, anti-racist, and critical social theories, my thesis entitled The Maa-nulth Treaty: Huu-ay-aht youth visions for post-Treaty life, embedded within the present colonial conditions of Indigenous-Settler relations in British Columbia, employed arts-based and qualitative methodologies to focus upon the culture and mentality of colonialism in British Columbia, its subsequent socio-political and legal reproduction/reinforcement, and avenues for respectfully transforming the resulting power imbalances within Indigenous-settler and Indigenous-state relations.
In 2012, I became involved with CEHE as a project coordinator. Finishing my contract with CEHE in 2013, my role as project coordinator was centred upon the ‘Revitalizing Japantown?’ partnership project, where I was fortunate enough to work with the many passionate community organizations in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, to build a unifying, yet distinct, collection of voices celebrating the founding communities’ triumphs in light of human rights violations. Currently, I am working as Research Associate at UNBC on topics related to ecohealth, environmental governance, and human-nature relations. I continue to be driven by questions of how to respectfully transform Indigenous-settler relations by engaging settler populations to highlight the historical construction of the state and resulting inequities – a topic that is at the core of my PhD program beginning in Fall 2013 at Dalhousie University. When not feverishly trying to meet deadlines, I can be found gallivanting with Halem, my four-legged companion, usually somewhere in British Columbia.
Rebecca Haber, MPH (Project Coordinator)
I worked with CEHE as the Vancouver project coordinator of the SUCCEED community-based research project from 2009 to 2011 while completing a Masters degree in Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. Working with CEHE helped me learn how to work with many different partners and collaborators. It reaffirmed my commitment to involving community members in the policies and programs that impact their daily lives. Through the SUCCEED project, I had the privilege of working with a team of community researchers in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside who openly shared their knowledge and experience with me, which served to enrich my own knowledge and perspective. Currently I work as a Program Manager at DASH BC, an organization that supports and promotes the creation of healthy schools.
Emily A. Skinner, MA (Project Coordinator)
I completed a Master of Arts in Geography from the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of Manitoba, supervised by Dr. Jeff Masuda. During my graduate studies, I was hired to coordinate The SUCCEED Project ‘Supporting Urban Communities’ Capacity to promote Environmental health Equity through Dialogue-centred research” in the city of Winnipeg. This project inspired a research partnership with Graffiti Art Programming Inc., to further explore patterns of urban health inequities from the perspective of a group of young artivists, the focus of my thesis (Electronic Thesis, September 2012, http://hdl.handle.net/1993/8886; see also Social Science & Medicine, February 2013, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.02.020.
While working at the Centre for Environmental Health Equity (CEHE) as a student researcher, I gained a wealth of experience and mentorship from CEHE staff, fellow student researchers, and community partners in coordinating participatory research projects and knowledge translation activities in partnership with both youth and adult-centered community-based groups and organizations. My experience at CEHE incited my interest and passion for building research partnerships between the university and community to address environmental health inequities, and delighted to now be working full-time in this capacity as a research coordinator at the Healthy Environments and Communities (HEC) research lab at Dalhousie University.
Claire Westmacott, (Evaluation Coordinator)
I began my work with the Centre for Environmental Health Equity through a work-placement opportunity provided by my Environmental Studies program at the University of Toronto. At U of T, I was able to tailor my program to suit the needs of my growing interest in environmental health and social justice. Now having recently graduated with an Hons. BA., I look forward to pursing graduate studies in Public Health, with a focus on maternal/child health in global settings.
Having previously interned with FIDA-pcH, an organization providing co-operative opportunities in Haiti, I gained a strong interest in both the global and domestic inequities that exist and inhibit a healthy, sustainable life. Grounding that interest in health, CEHE has further allowed me to explore inequities as they exist in Canadian health settings, as well as the framework of equitable knowledge translation. Specifically, my work as an Evaluation Coordinator on the Knowledge Leaders in Children’s Environmental Health project has been an invaluable experience in all aspects of education and collaboration. The national training program was certainly a jam-packed week, which I feel so blessed to have been a part of. And as my work with CEHE continues, I am excited by the progress of the Leader’s work and all that they continue to accomplish.
I was born in England and as of April 2013, officially became a Canadian citizen. I look forward to many more years in Canada, though have plans to travel far and wide before beginning my graduate studies. I currently reside in downtown Toronto, where I cycle everywhere and enjoy the city’s endless business. For over 6 years, I have also volunteered with KidsAbility Centre for Child Development, a children’s treatment centre providing rehabilitation services to children with varying disabilities.
Dominic Alaazi, PhD Student, School of Public Health, University of Alberta
Born and raised in a deprived farming community in Northern Ghana, my inclination has been to confront and address issues of poverty and environmental injustice in both rural and urban settings. My professional and interdisciplinary academic training has been a deliberate design to help serve this course. After finishing my undergraduate studies in 2004, I spent six years working as an Environmental Governance Advisor for SNV Netherlands Development Organization, a position which offered me a rare opportunity to contribute to poverty reduction efforts in Ghana. In this position, I traversed the length and breadth of the country, developing and nurturing community capacities for poverty reduction and environmental governance.
My graduate training in Environmental Science (MPhil, Ghana) and Geography (MA, Manitoba) has helped to deepen my understanding of how poverty, environmental conditions, and health are interlinked. In my graduate and undergraduate research in Ghana, I explored environmental governance with a focus on poverty reduction, community empowerment, and resource conservation. Under Dr. Masuda’s supervision at the University of Manitoba, I finished a Master of Arts in Geography in the summer of 2013, and have since started a PhD in Public Health at the University of Alberta. My MA thesis research explored Aboriginal homelessness in Winnipeg within the context of neoliberalized social housing interventions. When the opportunity came to pursue this research, I saw it as another platform to advance an agenda for equality in a world in which the neoliberal ideology of self-responsibility has expanded rapidly at the expense of an inclusive and caring society.
I was a fortunate recipient of a Manitoba Graduate Scholarship, a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship, and a University of Manitoba International Graduate Entrance Scholarship. A SSHRC funded project on urban housing and homelessness, led by Dr. Joshua Evans (Athabasca University) and Dr. Masuda (University of Manitoba), provided me with additional funds for my thesis research project. I am sincerely grateful to Dr. Masuda and the CEHE team for the support I received while studying at the University of Manitoba.
Laura Callender, BSc. Honors (Kinesiology), School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University
In 2015/2016, I completed an independent study course (Survey of Research in Literature in Health Studies) under the supervision of Dr. Masuda. My literature review was entitled ‘Injustice in the city? The paradox of urban green space provision and environmental justice’. I am now back at Queen’s, completing my Masters of Science in the Physical Activity Epidemiology Lab, under the supervision of Dr. Ian Janssen.
Sara Stephenson, BSc. Honors (Kinesiology)
In 2014-2015 academic year I completed an Undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Dr. Masuda. My research concerned the equity of student access to the Queens campus farmers market. After graduating with my BSc honors Kinesiology last year, I’ve come back to Queens; I’m in my first of two years of the Queens Advanced Standing Track Nursing program.
Kaila Raimondo, BSc. Honours (Health Studies & Life Science), School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University
I am a third year student currently majoring in Health Studies and Life Science at Queen’s University. After learning about the field of critical health promotion during my second year of undergraduate study, I was intrigued by the environmental health inequities faced by certain populations not only in the Kingston community, but also around the globe. Working as part of the CEHE team for the upcoming year, I will be focusing on the topic of urban playground deserts and continuing my studies in the fields of epidemiology, genetics and Canadian health policy. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in the medical field, centering around public health policy and healthcare consulting.
Not only will I be working as part of the CEHE team this year, but also as a Peer Health Educator and an Exercise, Disability and Aging mini-stream research candidate. Starting my own non-profit organization in 2014 geared towards the importance of sport for all, I believe that being apart of the CEHE team will allow me to expand my horizons and work towards achieving the right to play for children around the globe. Depending on the day, you can either find me playing piano, swimming, or eating copious amounts of Jolly Ranchers; my absolute favourite candy. I am extremely excited to be working under the supervision of Dr. Jeff Masuda and look forward to an amazing year.
Lauren Weber, BA. Honours (Health Studies), School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University
I am a fourth year undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Health Studies at Queen’s University. As a work study student, I have was given the opportunity to work under the supervision of Dr Jeff Masuda as a research assistant for the RentSafe project for the 2015-2016 academic year. I very much enjoy and value the importance of placing a critical lens on health promotion to question dominant ideologies and fuel new creative thought, ideas and solutions. I am also interested in community based health promotion practices, and how accessibility and policy influence health inequities. Currently ss General Co-Director for Queen’s Health Outreach, Peer Advisor for the International Programs Office, and Volunteer Management Assistant at Youth Diversion Kingston, I can usually be found running around campus from one thing to the next while waving frantically at friends passing by! I am very excited to be able to compliment my work and interests with the opportunity to get involved with CEHE and the RentSafe project. In the future, I hope to pursue a degree in public health with a focus on improving health inequities within Canada.
Aaron Franks, Research Associate
I joined the CEHE community on Jan 3, 2013, and might be an atypical Research Associate for the field of environmental health and equity! But if I feel this when reflecting on my past work and education, the truth is that health (in all its dimensions), the environment, equity and social justice belong to no one set of disciplinary guidelines or practices.
After finishing high school in Edmonton, I studied theatre at the University of Alberta and worked as a performer – from children’s theatre in school gyms to the Stratford Festival and all in between – for a decade. Increasingly dissatisfied with the apolitical culture of mainstream theatre (and I blame myself for not being more adventurous in this regard!), I fostered my interests and abilities as an activist and eventually returned to university, receiving degrees in Social Justice and Equity Studies (MA, Brock, 2008) and Human Geography (PhD, Glasgow, 2012).
My MA dissertation investigated how farmers and activists in the Via Campesina and the National Farmers Union of Canada use seed as a political figure in their organizing and communications; my PhD involved much more extensive participation with members of So We Stand, a collective of UK social and environmental justice activists who organized in Central Scotland, pursuing a regional vision of climate justice that spanned both human and ecological exploitation under fossil-fuelled capitalism. What joins these rather different projects is a commitment to both public interest research and critical investigation (including critical theory), and a belief that our bodily, social and ecological integrity are woven together.
Health is both a right and a signal that relationships – social, economic and ecological – are fundamentally working well. For this reason I think it’s important that relationships and expressivity are central to our work, and I am delighted that CEHE has taken a growing long term interest in both participatory and creative arts-based research methods and knowledge sharing practices. I am equally delighted and honoured to participate in how we build upon and improve this practice.
Trevor Wideman, MA (candidate) Department of Geography, Queens University
I began my association with The Centre for Environmental Health Equity in the summer of 2012 as the recipient of a University of Manitoba Undergraduate Research Scholarship, and it has been my pleasure to work under the supervision of Dr. Jeff Masuda ever since. I have always been fascinated by the deep connections that develop between people and places, and I have a lasting interest in understanding the macro and micro-scale processes that change urban landscapes. I am very passionate about urban geography, particularly the built form of the city, the power relationships that influence urban development, and the social justice implications of planning processes. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I moved to Vancouver to do research in the Downtown Eastside, and I am now in the second year of my Master’s degree at Queen’s University.
My research focuses on how place names (toponyms) have been used in urban planning in the Downtown Eastside, and at how naming changes the way people think, feel, and act towards the neighbourhood. I am investigating how the area was labeled historically by reviewing newspaper articles and planning documents, as well as doing a critical examination of a recent Local Area Plan to understand how naming is being used in the present day. Specifically, I am looking at how Japanese Canadian heritage has been used within this recent plan to promote neighbourhood transformations. My research is integrated with the goals of the Revitalizing Japantown? project under the supervision of Dr. Jeff Masuda, and it contributes to a growing body of knowledge regarding human rights, branding, and place in the Downtown Eastside. My association with CEHE continues to be an invaluable asset to me as I travel down my academic path, and the research experience I have gained has helped me immensely, both in preparing for and continuing with my graduate studies.