By Renee Masching, Research and Policy Manager
Introducing the AHA Centre!
CAAN is very excited to announce that we were successful in our research funding application for the Aboriginal HIV & AIDS Community-Based Research Collaborative Centre (AHA Centre) for a five year grant of $1.5 million! This funding will support community-based research development across the country and emphasizes regional work with national coordination. The Research and Policy Unit will continue to undertake research projects while the AHA Centre will support our community stakeholders to lead and engage in research.
The AHA Centre’s work will focus on four broad areas: partnership building and maintenance; capacity building; research promotion and support; and knowledge-to-action (KTA). The Aboriginal health and the HIV & AIDS communities will be directly engaged in every aspect of the Centre and as a result, we hope that the duplication of resources and the work to produce them will be reduced. Research teams will be supported to undertake issue-based, rather than discipline-based, HIV research that addresses the complex determinants of the epidemic by addressing pressing concerns and public policy issues relevant to Aboriginal people living with or affected by HIV & AIDS. Community-based research (CBR) initiatives will be supported emphasizing Indigenous Knowledge frameworks and ways of knowing the world. Centre Investigators will be encouraged to develop meaningful partnerships to develop and undertake Aboriginal capacity building and knowledge sharing activities as well as initiatives to secure additional funding for research projects. In addition, opportunities to work with the three other HIV Research Centres in Canada will be explored.
Through our extensive and established ‘network of networks’, the AHA Center will strategically contribute to an effective response to HIV and AIDS-related issues relevant to Aboriginal Peoples in Canada and international Indigenous populations. Guided by community-based research principles, the AHA Centre will support innovative and creative research that is grounded in Indigenous and decolonizing methodologies as well as, rights, strengths and action-based inquiry. We will disseminate research evidence about HIV and AIDS in Aboriginal communities through novel Knowledge-Translation-to-Action (KTA) approaches as well as build capacity in community and academia to actively apply research findings. The Centre will be well positioned to connect and engage people with the necessary skill set(s) to sustain existing teams and build new relationships which will enhance the quality of Aboriginal CBR in Canada and internationally.
This dedicated Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network-led team of investigators will advance Aboriginal community-based HIV and AIDS research that benefits Aboriginal Peoples in Canada as well as international Indigenous populations. This team will foster an innovative environment striving for scientific excellence and trust where investigators with a wide range of experience, Aboriginal community members and Aboriginal people living with HIV and AIDS share responsibility for direction setting and decision making.
AHA Centre Objectives:
- To provide and cultivate leadership for addressing the complex and unique HIV and AIDS related needs of Aboriginal communities in Canada through community-based research.
- To sustain existing and new partnerships through ongoing relationship building to amplify the response to HIV and AIDS within the Aboriginal community locally, regionally and globally.
- To strategically expand the scope of current Aboriginal HIV and AIDS research in Canada by meaningfully working with Aboriginal community stakeholders to connect fragmented research activities as well as facilitate synergy through interdisciplinary approaches.
- To enhance the specificity of HIV and AIDS research undertaken with Aboriginal Peoples in Canada to focus attention on populations within the diverse pan-Aboriginal community.
- To advance reciprocal capacity building within the Aboriginal community and within academia to engage in collaborative Aboriginal HIV and AIDS research by creating an enriching and supportive environment for training, research development support and access to a broad range of expertise.
- To enhance the production and dissemination of materials for ‘Knowledge Translation to Action’ to increase the impact of research within the Aboriginal community in Canada.
- To support Centre members, other stakeholders and our partners in securing research funding through diverse funding opportunities and institutions.
The AHA Centre Team:
We are a team of researchers with the combined experience, training and community relationships to foster innovative, high impact research in response to HIV & AIDS among Aboriginal Peoples. Co-led by Renée Masching, CAAN with Dr. Charlotte Reading, University of Victoria, the seventeen member national Governing Council includes highly respected researchers and two Elders. Twelve of the Council members and over 50 % of the entire team are of Aboriginal descent. All other team members have a long history of engagement with the Aboriginal community in Canada and are respectfully considered allies. Indigenous co-investigators and collaborators from Australia, New Zealand and the United States will contribute towards the international aspects of the Centre’s mission.
Staff will include two Community-based Research Managers; Marni Amirault, Eastern (NS) and Sherri Pooyak, Western (BC). We will recruit regional Peer Research Associates (PRAs) who will be local, on the ground resource people linking community closely with the Centre. The PRAs will be trained in community-based research and Indigenous research techniques and supported by our managers. Administrative staff will include coordination and a team of consultants in year one to contribute towards integrating both evaluation and KTA in all of Centre’s work.