mom road trip 15

My earliest experiences with research came to me as a Masters and PhD student, with an amazing supervisory committee.  In addition to the support they provided towards my own research, they also occasionally hired me as a research assistant, modelling what ethical research practice can look like, and demonstrating a spirit of inquiry and love of learning.  For my Masters (which was my first ever) research, my participants were family members of mine.  This, too, was pivotal in informing my approach, as it gave me a deep understanding of the care required when engaging in research with people.  I carry that experience forward with me in everything I do.

I have since found myself  involved in research and other forms of community engagement outside of academia with diverse teams of stellar people, all of whom have taught me even more about what matters to me in this work.  From these friends and colleagues I have learned the importance of:

  • being guided by values and principles, and ensuring all team members contribute to the development of them.
  • having an Advisory Team or Working Group that is comprised of people with lived experience related to the topic being explored.
  • developing a budget that a) adequately compensates everyone who contributes to the project, b) addresses potential barriers to participation, and c) allows for a respectful timeline and relational engagement.
  • cultivating a good understanding of the existing body of knowledge around the topic being explored, by reviewing literature and engaging with knowledge-holders.
  • always attending to cultural and emotional safety.

Below are some of the research and other projects of which I have been a part:

Child and family services

  • Conducted a review of possibilities for Tla’amin-centered approaches to child welfare reform. (Tla’amin Nation, 2020)
  • Co-developed a 10-year strategy for equitable and accessible childcare in the region, with Marlane Christensen and Meriko Kubota.  (City of Powell River, qathet Regional District, Tla’amin Nation, 2019-2020)
  • Co-led a collaborative overview of child and family services at the Child Development Resource Center and Tla’amin Health, with Marlane Christensen. (Tla’amin Nation, 2019)
  • Collaborated on a proposal for expanded and accessible childcare spaces. (Tla’amin Nation, 2019)

Life promotion and suicide prevention

  • Project lead for research related to youth suicide prevention and life promotion in online places, with Dr. Jennifer White. (Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division, 2020)
  • Lead researcher/writer for a federally funded web-based project (wisepractices.ca) led by Dr. Ed Connors and Dr. Jennifer White. The website promotes life among First Nations youth by connecting young people with purpose, hope, meaning, and belonging. (Indigenous Services Canada, 2016-2020)
  • Research assistant for inquiry into young people’s experiences of suicide risk assessment, led by Dr. Jennifer White. (Ministry of Children and Family Development, 2015-2016)

System-level change

  • Lead researcher for qathet Inclusive Manufacturing Pilot Project, a social enterprise researching an inclusive employment model with support from WorkBC and Victoria Foundation. (inclusion Powell River, Powell River, BC, 2020-2022)
  • Development of BCMF 2021-2024 Strategic Plan (BC Metis Federation, 2020)
  • Co-conducted an environmental scan and gap analysis, with Marlane Christensen. (BC Metis Federation, 2020)
  • Team member for a feasibility study for a care facility for the Tla’amin Nation. (Alof!i Consultancy, Powell River, BC, 2019)
  • Team member in the development of a proposed Social Plan for the Powell River region. (Alof!i Consultancy, Powell River, BC, 2017)
  • Collaborated on a community-engaged research project (led by Alison Taplay) called Defining Diversity, Creating Community, and instructed a two-day course of the same name. (Vancouver Foundation, 2013-2014)
  • Doctoral research: Contextualizing care: Alternatives to the individualization of struggles and support (SSHRC, 2009-2012). Find e-book here.

Community economies

  • Research team member in a project (led by Alison Taplay: Illuminating new economic possibilities) that engaged the business community; regional, municipal, and Tla’amin leadership; and local citizens in conversations designed to deepen our understanding of the dynamic links among 1) economic, 2) social, and 3) environmental wellbeing. (Vancouver Island University, 2015)
  • Team member initiating a range of community-based activities (including: a bi-monthly column in a local publication, a series of film launches, a youth-focused collaborative Art Experience Project), following from a community conference called Groundswell in 2014. (Taos Institute, 2014-2015).
  • Post-doctoral research: Moving Beyond Disciplinary Boundaries: The Symbiosis of Diversified Approaches to Economic Development and Human Service Practice. (SSHRC, 2013-2015)
  • Collaborated on the organization of a Speakers Series to bring community together around a range of topics. (Taos Institute, 2013-2014)

Other projects

  • Research assistant for inquiry into experiences of amphetamine use among female youth, led by Dr. Marie Hoskins. (SSHRC, 2006-2009).
  • Masters research: ‘Even Now’: Ongoing and experiential interpretations of childhood loss. (SSHRC, 2005-2007)