Researching Social Impact: 2021 Canada Research Chairs Announced

In June, the Government of Canada announced the most recent SSHRC funding and Canada Research Chair recipients. The following researchers cover topics of interest to GLAMs.

Canada Research Chair in Community Mobility
Maureen Ashe, University of British Columbia

Older adults are less active than younger age groups in Canada—and the resulting costs to their health and the health-care system are significant. Given the fact that our population is aging, we need to find ways to reduce mobility loss and help people continue to live independently in later life. As Canada Research Chair in Community Mobility, Dr. Maureen Ashe is addressing the trend toward sedentary behaviours and diminished community participation among Canada’s oldest citizens. She and her research team are working with older adults, family caregivers and health-care providers to deliver and evaluate physical activity interventions that target mobility impairments. Ultimately, Ashe and her team aim to translate their findings into guidelines and messaging to reduce injury and increase quality of life for older Canadians.

Canada Research Chair in Economic inclusion, Employment and Entrepreneurship of Canada’s Immigrants
Rupa Banerjee, Ryerson University

International migration is increasingly oriented toward commerce. For example, government immigration policies can make it easier for newcomers to settle in Canada permanently if they arrive as international students or have been working in Canada. But few studies have fully explored the role that universities, colleges and employers play in the immigration system. Dr. Rupa Banerjee, Canada Research Chair in Economic Inclusion, Employment and Entrepreneurship of Canada’s Immigrants, is examining the impact of schools and businesses on international migration patterns and integration. Working at the intersection of migration studies, human resource management and educational studies, she and her research team are expanding the theoretical understanding of migration and developing insights that will inform public policy.

Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities
Heather Castleden, Queen’s University

Reconciliation is dead. Reconciliation is dead, but revolution is alive. Reconciliation isn’t dead; it never existed. Such refrains from Indigenous Peoples and their allies are resounding across Canada. And now, in addition to settler colonialism, we have a global climate crisis, a pandemic and white supremacist and police violence across Turtle Island. All of these are changing the way we experience the world around us and how we relate to each other. Dr. Heather Castleden, Canada Research Chair in Reconciling Relations for Health, Environments, and Communities, is contributing by operationalizing Etuaptmumk (two-eyed seeing, a way of looking at the world that incorporates both Indigenous and Eurocentric ways of knowing) to investigate the promises, challenges and critiques of reconciliation.

Canada Research Chair in Indigenous History of North America
Alan T. Corbiere, York University

Canadian history books have increasingly adopted “Indigenous perspectives” that are based on colonial documents, such as accounts from fur traders and priests. As a result, many Anishinaabe elders don’t feel that their stories are being fully told: their oral traditions and languages are not the main source of these accounts. Anishinaabe conceptualizations of time, toponymy (the study of place names), literacy, orality, mnemonics, discourse and history and historical authenticity have not been fully analyzed or incorporated. As Canada Research Chair in Indigenous History of North America, Dr. Alan Corbiere hopes to “re-right” and “re-write” Indigenous history. He and his research team are using oral traditions and Anishinaabemowin and material culture (museum collections) to re-interpret colonial records. Their aim is to weave these sources together to revitalize Indigenous language, culture and knowledge to ensure it plays a central role in our understanding of the past.

Canada Research Chair in Indigenous arts, knowledge systems and education
Spy Dénommé-Welch, Western University

Indigenous stories, identities and worldviews are all deeply rooted in the land. Land-based education is an environmental approach to learning that recognizes this connection. As Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, Knowledge Systems and Education, Dr. Spy Dénommé-Welch aims to advance land-based education, Indigenous methods and arts-informed research. Dénommé-Welch is developing a sound lab to conduct land-based research and engage in sound and music composition. He and his research team will then create a virtual archive (website) to document, curate and exhibit the Indigenous storyworks and land-based notation systems they produce. They will also generate land-based research, new understandings of Indigenous pedagogy, and gendered and Two-Spirit perspectives of art.

Canada Research Chair in Bio-Eco-Social Determinants of Child and Youth Mental Health
Anne M. Gadermann, University of British Columbia

With a better understanding of how social, biological and environmental factors and experiences can influence children’s early mental health and development, scientists hope to identify ways to prevent mental health problems from developing. Dr. Anne Gadermann, Canada Research Chair in Bio-Eco-Social Determinants of Child and Youth Mental Health, is collaborating with government, community and clinical partners to explore these ideas. She and her research team hope that the knowledge they generate can be used to develop interventions and policies that will support the mental health and well-being of children and youth.

Canada Research Chair in Urban Sexualities
Amin Ghaziani, University of British Columbia

With more than a million and a half Londoners working at night, the city’s nighttime economy is estimated at about $45 billion a year. But the number of LGBTQ clubs, bars and performance spaces in London has been decreasing dramatically. In fact, between 2006 and 2016, the number of queer nightlife venues declined by more than half. As Canada Research Chair in Urban Sexualities, Dr. Amin Ghaziani is trying to determine how the city is responding to this shift and what innovations the community is coming up with. Ghaziani and his research team are investigating the effects of economic and cultural forces on the creative core of the city at night. Ultimately, they hope to better understand the forces behind the decline in queer nightlife spaces in London and other cities around the world. 

Canada Research Chair in The Psychology of Emerging Adulthood
Abby L. Goldstein, University of Toronto

Young adults aged 18 to 25 are at a critical juncture in their lives—both psychologically and cognitively—as they face the transition into adulthood. It is a time of significant challenge and opportunity. But today’s emerging adults are experiencing increasing mental health concerns and higher rates of substance use relative to other age groups. They have unique developmental needs that must be considered when creating approaches to support their healthy transition into adulthood. Dr. Abby Goldstein, Canada Research Chair in the Psychology of Emerging Adulthood, is providing insight into the lives and well-being of Canada’s emerging adults. Using a novel, multi-method approach, she and her research team are addressing critical issues and enhancing the policies and practices that directly affect the lives of emerging adults, their parents and those who work closely with them. Ultimately, they aim to promote wellness and well-being for Canadian youth during this critical time of their lives.

Canada Research Chair in Optimal Care for Children with Disabilities
Gillian King, University of Toronto

More than 200,000 Canadian children and youth are living with some form of disability that affects their freedom, independence or quality of life. As Canada Research Chair in Optimal Care for Children with Disabilities, Dr. Gillian King is working to improve how we deliver care to these children and their families. King and her research team are examining how rehabilitation can promote resilience in children with disabilities. They are also investigating methods to enhance skills like listening and coaching among the rehabilitation practitioners and students who work with these children in order to promote child and family wellness. They also aim to enhance our understanding of family-centred service, which entails sharing information, involving families in decision-making and responding to their priorities and choices.

Canada Research Chair in Citizenship, Social Justice and Ethno-Racialization
Christopher Kyriakides, York University

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that there are some 80 million forcibly displaced people around the world. As Canada Research Chair in Citizenship, Social Justice and Ethno-Racialization, Dr. Christopher Kyriakides is using findings from studies of private and community sponsorships of refugees to understand how such initiatives can support refugees’ inclusion and enhance their resettlement. He and his research team are comparing established programs in Canada with new programs in the United Kingdom and Argentina. They aim to develop insights into the relationships between refugees and hosts, and demonstrate how they affect (and are affected by) policy measures designed to promote integration. Ultimately, their work will address the global refugee crisis by providing community groups and policy-makers with information about best practices in resettlement. 

Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Social Change Leadership
Jonathan Langdon, St. Francis Xavier University

In communities around the world, leaders are emerging to face climate change impacts, cultural homogenization and other challenges related to sustainability and social change. There is much that these leaders can learn from each other—and Dr. Jonathan Langdon, Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Social Change Leadership, is working to make sure this sharing happens.Langdon and his research team are supporting a trans-local effort that connects and influences different regions or areas at the same time. They are trying to link places that are contending with these challenges through knowledge exchange, mutual sustainability and social change learning. The learning and sharing that emerges from these efforts will enrich Canada’s contributions to a more socially, economically and environmentally sustainable world.

Canada Research Chair on Cultural Citizenship of Deaf People and Cultural Equity Practices
Véronique Leduc,  Université du Québec à Montréal

As a cultural and linguistic minority group, people who are deaf encounter numerous obstacles and participate less in the civic and cultural lives of their countries compared to their fellow citizens. Dr. Véronique Leduc, Canada Research Chair in Cultural Citizenship of Deaf People and Cultural Equity Practices, is examining the main issues around the cultural citizenship of deaf people and cultural equity practices to support their full participation. In the context of the Accessible Canada Act—which recognizes Quebec, American and Indigenous sign languages as the first languages of people who are deaf in Canada—Leduc and her research team are documenting deaf people’s cultural citizenship issues from their perspective. They are also working with them to build best practices in cultural equity and develop guidelines in the area of research ethics.

Canada Research Chair in Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence
Peter R. Lewis, Ontario Tech University

A phenomenal worldwide effort is underway to unlock the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI) across society, business and the economy. But embedding AI in society presents a complex mix of technical and social challenges and raises questions around its responsible use and trustworthiness. Dr. Peter Lewis, Canada Research Chair in Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence, is developing a new generation of trustworthy AI technologies that will be able to model and reason about their compatibility with social norms and values as well as about their own trustworthiness. He and his research team are collaborating with industry to develop “tech with a conscience” to support the responsible adoption of trustworthy AI.

Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Child Development
Sheri Madigan, University of Calgary

For a society to thrive, its members need opportunities to establish and develop healthy relationships in early childhood. But now that digital media is such an integral part of people’s daily lives, it has the potential to disrupt family interactions and children’s development. Yet it is vastly under-studied. Dr. Sheri Madigan, Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Child Development, is trying to address this research gap. She and her research team hope to make use of multi-method, multi-informant data collection to capture the nuances and complexities of family dynamics and children’s developmental processes with regards to the potentially encroaching influence of digital media in contemporary family life. Ultimately, their work may help us to understand and avoid digital influences that can interrupt the development of healthy childhood relationships.

Canada Research Chair in Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities
Courtney W. Mason, Thompson Rivers University

Land use planning engages a community in determining the future use of its natural resources. When it comes to Indigenous lands, these processes are also important for asserting rights and community values. Dr. Courtney Mason, Canada Research Chair in Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities, is studying rural and Indigenous land use development with a focus on rural socio-cultural, environmental and economic change. He and his research team have two areas of focus: tourism development and protected area management, and Indigenous food security, sport fishing tourism and conservation practices. They are assessing the risks, benefits and viabilities of tourism development and interpreting the policies and frameworks on land use and tourism that are shaping livelihoods in rural and Indigenous communities. Ultimately, their work will inform policy decisions related to rural and Indigenous land use development, management and governance.

Canada Research Chair on Inclusivity and Active Ageing
Ruth Ndjaboue, Université de Sherbrooke

The proportion of our society made up by elderly persons is increasing rapidly, and it is important to help seniors retain agency in their own lives for as long as possible. Dr. Ruth Ndjaboue, Canada Research Chair in Inclusivity and Active Ageing, is using unique and innovative methods to make better sense of the interdisciplinary knowledge of active aging. Ndjaboue and her research team want to develop a better understanding of the complex relations between individual and social factors, on the one hand, and health factors associated with active aging on the other. They plan to facilitate the transfer and optimal use of our complex knowledge of active aging through an approach that takes vulnerable seniors into account and by using tools that adapt to the needs, challenges and priorities of various segments of our aging population.

Canada Research Chair in Person-Centered Care in Addiction and Public Health
Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes, University of British Columbia

Canada has struggled with an opioid crisis for a number of years. A particular challenge when it comes to treatment is that sufferers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes, Canada Research Chair in Person Centred Innovation in Addictions and Public Health, is investigating how our health-care systems can best address the diverse range of people who struggle with opioid use. The fact that the opioid crisis has continued even though access to medications and harm reduction programs have been greatly expanded highlights the need for more innovative treatment options. Oviedo-Joekes and her research team hope to pioneer new approaches, such as injectable opioid agonist treatments. Their work also recognizes the need to adapt programs to improve treatment uptake and effectiveness for each individual.

Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities
Christina Sharpe, York University

Black Studies is a growing field of research at a number of Canadian universities that have responded to students’ desire to see themselves in the curriculum. Dr. Christina Sharpe, Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities, is creating an interdisciplinary, comprehensive and vibrant research hub for Black Studies. She and her research team are creating a new model of study that brings together established and emerging Black Studies scholars, graduate students, and visual and performing artists whose work investigates the myriad ways in which Black lives are made and lived. Through collaborative, theoretical and community-based research methods, Sharpe and her team are exploring interdisciplinary ways of knowing and acting to generate scholarly and creative Black Studies knowledges.

Canada Research Chair in Gender, Race, and Inclusive Politics
Erin Tolley, Carleton University

Political equality is a basic democratic principle, and its realization demands we attend to the misogyny, racism, and discrimination that shape institutions. As Canada Research Chair in Gender, Race, and Inclusive Politics, Dr. Erin Tolley is exploring how to create institutions that are more representative of Canadian society. Using a multi-method and collaborative research approach, Tolley and her research team are developing new ways to measure and explain the underrepresentation of diversity in politics. They are also generating new knowledge on the structures and processes that support increased inclusion. The objective is to develop research-driven responses to political inequality, while building infrastructure to train and support a new, more diverse generation of social scientists. 

Canada Research Chair in Enterprise Social Media and Digital Collaboration
Wietske Van Osch, HEC Montréal

Teams in businesses and other organizations make decisions all the time that affect not only their own success, but that of their organization—and many of these decisions require collaboration. In recent years, enterprise social media—the social platforms used for internal communications within organizations—have promised to make it easier for teams to collaborate and make decisions. Although the full benefits of enterprise social media aren’t clear yet, we do know that these platforms generate considerable information about teams that wasn’t previously unavailable. Dr. Wietske Van Osch, Canada Research Chair in Enterprise Social Media and Collaborative Decision-Making, is examining exactly when, why and how collaborative decision-making succeeds. She and her research team are also building tools to improve team decision-making and organizational success.

Research summaries courtesy of Canada Research Chairs, Government of Canada.