Community Engagement and Research Centre launches new community-based research projects

Renewing Regina’s theatre community, assisting brain injury survivors in their ongoing recovery, and recognizing the perspectives of immigrant settlement workers in the era of COVID-19 – the University of Regina’s Community Engagement and Research Centre (CERC) has just launched new research projects in response to the needs of three local community-based organizations. The projects are being funded by CERC’s Community Research and Action fund, a series of small grants that, along with collaboration from UofR faculty members, are intended to support the research needs of area community organizations.

“Since 2011, the Faculty of Arts has distributed over $111,000 for thirty-nine such community-driven, partnership projects like these ones,” says CERC Community Director Dr. Lynn Gidluck. “And there is a great deal of diversity in the type of projects we fund and the communities that benefit.”

During the most recent round of funding, a $2500 grant has been awarded to Renewing Regina’s Theatre Coalition, a group representing a number of local community-based theatre artists and organizations. The research project aims to respond to several serious challenges facing the professional theatre community in Regina – not the least of which being the global pandemic – by determining the feasibility of creating a shared promotional and service platform and theatre space. The study is being supervised by Department of Theatre emeritus professors Dr. Kathleen Irwin and Mary Blackstone.

Following a successful model recently implemented in Saskatoon, the group anticipates that amalgamating resources into a shared platform will offer advantages such as a singular web presence for box office and marketing purposes, and for the distribution of creative work, among other benefits. This early stage research into the feasibility of the plan is intended to enable applications to larger funding organizations – like MITACS and SaskArts – for implementation.

Another $2500 grants has been awarded to the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association (SBIA), an organization that aims to improve the lives of brain injury survivors, families and caregivers. The funding will launch a study exploring the impact of physical rehabilitation and recreational walking among brain injury survivors in the later stages of recovery.

The project aims to respond to a major challenge expressed by many individuals recovering from brain injury – that their structured program of rehabilitation ends too soon. Despite the life-long challenges presented by brain injury and the need ongoing support, survivors and caregivers report that there are few appropriate and affordable options once rehabilitation has ceased.

The project will document the effects of offering continuing rehabilitation options to survivors in the form of a physical rehabilitation program offered at the University of Regina and an outdoor recreational walking program offered by SBIA. Together, the programs aims to provide survivors the opportunity to participate in activities that are similar to those they undertook during their formal period of rehabilitation.

Dr. Cameron Mang from the UofR’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, will collaborate on this project. It is hoped that evidence gleaned from the study will guide the implementation of other such programs, within and beyond Regina.

Finally, $4000 in funding has been granted to the Saskatchewan Association of Immigrant Settlement and Integration Agencies (SAISIA) for a project examining educational inequities for newcomer students in the wake of COVID-19. The study will engage the perspective of in-school settlement workers, an under-researched group of 60 professionals who play a crucial role in supporting over 600 newcomer students transitioning into the Canadian school system.

Dr. Amanda Gebhard and Dr. Fritz Pino, both from the UofR Faculty of Social Work will advise on the project, in collaboration with the University of Victoria’s Dr. Willow Allen. The key outcome of this research will be a plain language report for SAISIA’s use in public education and advocacy efforts. The report will also be disseminated to school administrators and teachers across the province to raise awareness about the crucial role of settlement workers. With recommendations from the report and the study findings, SAISIA hopes to be able to provide better support to school settlement workers.

Dr. Gidluck is thrilled that CERC can play such a key role in facilitating the type of research that benefits the local community. “What strikes me most about the projects our Board chooses to fund is the passion shown by the successful applicants to conduct research they hope will lead to more equitable, healthy and vibrant communities,” she says. “Social change is at the heart of community-based research and the community-university teams that come together to work on the projects the CERC funds are nothing short of inspirational."


9 December 2020