By Marni and Sherri
We spent most of the first three months of this year in Coast Salish and Lheidli T’enneh territory in British Columbia. Meetings brought us to Vancouver in January, Victoria in February, and to Prince George and back to Vancouver in March. Because we are a national centre our reality means that day to day, we work coast to coast; Sherri from her desk at the Centre for Aboriginal Health in Victoria BC, and Marni from the CAAN Research and policy unit in Dartmouth NS. This means that when Marni is taking a break at noon to grab some food, Sherri is just pouring her morning coffee. We were grateful for the opportunity over the past three months to work together in person instead of on Skype and e-mail, across four time zones.
In January CAAN staff, board members and CAAN National partners to do some strategic planning for the upcoming Community Action Fund submission. There were a lot of big brains around the table and even bigger hearts, so we know that the best submission possible will be submitted to PHAC. As always, this meeting was a welcome opportunity to see the CAAN family and to come together to plan future directions for our work.
At the end of February, we met in Victoria to participate in the Family Matters member checking session where Sherri and Marni helped to facilitate discussion for two of six report back circles. Member checking is part of the research process that gives those who were participants in the research project (in this case Family Matters) an opportunity to hear what researchers have learned and to report those findings back to participants to make sure that “we got it right”. To be a part of this process was incredibly rewarding and is definitely one of the best parts of research. You can look forward to future reports from the Family Matters project in the coming months.
March saw us travel from Victoria to Prince George to visit the National Collaborating Centre on Aboriginal Health (NCCAH) that is housed at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). We were given a tour of the lovely UNBC campus and then met with Dr. Margo Greenwood and her staff to talk about the Centre’s Knowledge Translation work. A result, we have started a conversation about partnering on a project together with CAAN that will focus on Families and HIV. Part of this conversation will include writing short fact sheets on the results of the Family Matters project. CAAN will write the fact sheets and the NCCAH will produce them. We are still working out the details of this project, so stay tuned!
We saw our visit to the NCCAH as an incredible opportunity considering the high standard that the Centre produces. We will keep everyone posted on its progress. Our meeting with the NCCAH highlighted the need for the AHA Centre to develop and produce a peer review process for resources that the AHA Centre produces. We feel that this will help to ensure that our resources will be even more relevant and useful to our members. We really appreciated the opportunity to visit the Centre and learned a lot from our time there.
The second week of March was spent preparing for our 2 day meeting with the AHA Centre’s National Aboriginal Research Advisory Committee (NARAC) in Vancouver. NARAC is mandated to provide leadership, vision and direction in all areas of research within CAAN and the AHA Centre, drawing from past and continued involvement in the Aboriginal and/or the Community-based Research community. We were thrilled with the level of engagement from everyone around the table as well as the big brains and even bigger hearts of the committee. This was the first in-person meeting for current NARAC members. We asked NARAC for feedback on several seminal documents like our Statement of Research Integrity and our Principles of Research and Collaboration. We also discussed better processes of engagement with the committee.
We would also like to give a warm ‘welcome to the world’ to our newest NARAC member (despite the fact that he is still diapers and can’t read yet). On day two of our meeting, another ‘researcher in the making’ was born! We wish Mom, Dad and baby all the best.
After the NARAC meeting, Sherri travelled back to her home in Victoria and Marni flew back to the east coast. We’re back to working via Skype and e-mail again, but we’ll make the best of it.
All in all, it was good to be in British Columbia …