Lakehead University professors receiving $818k from SSHRC for exciting research with community partners

Lakehead University

Thunder Bay – TECH – Lakehead University research teams are receiving more than $818,000 in Partnership Engage Grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for their important studies.

Dr. Charles Levkoe, Associate Professor in Health Sciences at Lakehead University and Canada Research Chair in Equitable and Sustainable Food Systems, is receiving $25,000 to design and create a Thunder Bay and Area Food Systems Report Card by partnering with the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy (TBAFS) – in collaboration with several community partners including EcoSuperior, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, and the Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre.

In 2015, the TBAFS created a Community Food Security Report Card to develop a snapshot of the region’s food system. The resulting data has been used as a reference point for the City of Thunder Bay, researchers, practitioners, surrounding municipalities, and First Nations in their struggles to build a more equitable and sustainable food system in the region.

The initial report card also raised many additional questions and garnered suggestions for ways it could be improved – to make it more useful and impactful.

“Together we will establish a set of indicators to document the status of the region’s food system, compare the results with the 2015 data, and gather anecdotes from successful initiatives currently working across food systems,” Dr. Levkoe said.

Dr. Rebecca Schiff, Chair and Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, is a co-investigator on the project with Dr. Levkoe. She is also the primary investigator on a project receiving more than $24,000 to implement a voluntary local review of the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals in Thunder Bay.

This project emerged out of discussions between her academic partners from Lakehead and EarthCare Thunder Bay, created by the City of Thunder Bay to identify a need for consistent, systematic, and comprehensive evaluation of the city’s progress towards achieving sustainability.

“In particular, the team identified the potential to track progress on sustainability through the use of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their associated targets and indicators,” Dr. Schiff said.

Partners include EarthCare Thunder Bay, the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Strategy, the Climate Adaptation Strategy, the Food Strategy, and United Way Thunder Bay.

Dr. Ravi Gokani, Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work, and his research team will help the Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board (TBDSSAB) gain more institutional knowledge and capacity regarding the migration of homeless people to the area from other provinces.

The TBDSSAB is the largest provider and funder of social services in Thunder Bay and Northern Ontario and it also has one of the largest catchment areas in Ontario. The organization has learned from previous institutional research and planning that roughly 62 per cent of Thunder Bay’s homeless population have come to Thunder Bay from other provinces.

“The migration of people into Thunder Bay has resulted in an increase in the homeless population and thus an increase in the need for programs and funding,” Dr. Gokani said.

“The goal for the TBDSSAB is to have a knowledge or evidence base from which it can make and modify existing policies and programs, as well as lobby provincial government for changes to existing provincial policies and funding decisions,” he added.

Along with the TBDSSAB, Dr. Gokani will work with co-investigators Dr. Travis Hay from Mount Royal University, Dr. Vijay Mago from Lakehead’s Department of Computer Science, and Dr. Schiff from Lakehead’s Department of Health Sciences.

The research team will attempt to answer five questions: Why have individuals left their home or previous community? Why have they come to Thunder Bay? Why have they chosen to remain in Thunder Bay? What factors predict if they leave or stay in Thunder Bay? And if an individual does stay, how long are they likely to remain in the city?

These questions will be answered using mixed methods, including qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys, and the latter of which will be analyzed using simulation models, Dr. Gokani said.

Dr. Gary Pluim, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Lakehead Orillia, and his team have received a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant worth $155,000 to study the processes of sharing curriculum among countries of the Commonwealth.

This collaboration is between students and faculty at Lakehead, the Commonwealth of Learning, and numerous universities, colleges and institutes across the Global South.

The shared curriculum is geared for the training of youth workers in the context of their countries.

Throughout the Global South, youth comprise the largest proportion of country populations and are the fastest-growing demographic. Global issues – such as the climate crisis, health and wellness, educational success, and chronic underemployment – are inherently youth issues, meaning they make up the curricular focus for these programs.

The target of this project is small countries in the Global South, which often do not have fully established professional sectors of youth workers to fully address contemporary youth issues.

The Commonwealth has a special interest in the development of small states as 30 of its member nations are classified as small, with a population of one to two million people or less.

“Similarities between these small countries – in many cases small island developing states – may make it conducive to share these curriculums,” Dr. Pluim said.

“The development of a credentialed youth work program that trains young workers to support youth has been shown to facilitate the professionalization of this field.”

The Commonwealth of Learning is an intergovernmental organization that prioritizes distance learning and technologies to expand access to education and training across the Commonwealth. The total project funding is $301,000 including inputs from all partners. This funding will support a three-year project, culminating with a youth work education summit at Lakehead Orillia in 2024.

All of these research projects are closely associated with Lakehead’s 2019 to 2024 Sustainability Plan.

“Congratulations to each of the researchers and thanks to SSHRC for continued funding and support of these important projects,” said Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation.

“Each of these projects include applied research with very well-defined knowledge transfer goals. We value the partnerships with not-for-profit organizations and support services and know that the research results obtained through these grants will have tangible outcomes for our communities.”

The Research Support Fund is a federal funding program for post-secondary institutions in Canada to support some of the costs associated with managing research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

In 2020/21, Lakehead University received nearly $2 million in assistance from the Research Support Fund to support the indirect costs of research, which includes costs for supporting the management of intellectual property, research and administration, ethics and regulatory compliance, research resources, and research facilities.

New SSHRC Partnership/Connection Stream Grants for 2020-2021

Total funding:  $818,937

Partnership Development Grant (three-year grants)

Dr. Gary Pluim, Faculty of Education (Orillia), “Youth Work Programme and Course Development (Workshop & Curriculum Writing)”, $155,252.

  • Team

o   Dr. Kirk Perris (Co-Investigator), Karte Education Consultants

  • Partners

o   Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning

o   Commonwealth of Learning

o   Lakehead University

o   The Southern African Development Community

Dr. Alana Saulnier, Interdisciplinary Studies (Orillia), “COVID-19 and Policing in Ontario: Preparing for Future Pandemics”, $132,190.

  • Team

o   Dr. Vicki Kristman (Co-Investigator), Department of Health Sciences,

o   Dr. Daniel Krupp (Co-Investigator), Interdisciplinary Studies, Orillia

o   Jason K. Bagg (Collaborator) Durham Regional Police Service

o   Dr. Victoria A. Sytsma (Collaborator), Queen’s University

  • Partners: Barrie Police Service; Belleville Police Service; Brockville Police Service; Chatham-Kent Police Service; City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service; Cobourg Police Service; Cornwall Police Service; Halton Regional Police Service; Lakehead University; Niagara Regional Police Service Headquarters; North Bay Police Service; Ottawa Police Services; Owen Sound Police Service; Peterborough Police Service; Port Hope Police Service; South Simcoe Police; Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service; Thunder Bay Police Service; West Grey Police Service; York Regional Police

Partnership Engagement Grants (one-year grants)

Dr. Olakunle Akingbola, Faculty of Business (Orillia), “COVID-19 and Remote Work in Nonprofit Organizations: The Intersection of Employee Well-being and Community Outcomes”, $24,786 (COVID-19 Special Initiative)

  • Partner – Caribbean African Canadian Social Services Inc.

Dr. Max Haiven, Department of English, “Thunder Bay Public Library Rematriation Project: Student-led Reports”, $22,950.

  • Team

o   Dr. Adar Charlton (Co-Investigator), University of Manitoba

o   Samantha Martin-Bird  (Collaborator), Thunder Bay Public Library

o   Robyn Medicine, (Collaborator), Thunder Bay Public Library

  • Partner – Thunder Bay Public Library

Dr. Kathryn Halverson, School of Nursing, “Transition to Professional Practice Program”, $23,482.

  • Team

o   Dr. Michelle Lalonde, (Co-Investigator), University of Ottawa

o   Dr. Deborah Tregunno (Co-Investigator), Queen’s University

o   Dr. Judy Duchscher (Collaborator), Thompson Rivers University

Dr. Katherine Kortes-Miller, School of Social Work, “COVID-19 Not Just A Visitor; Family caregiving in Long-term Care During Lockdown”, $24,512 (COVID-19 Special Initiative)

  • Team

o   Dr. Arne Stinchcombe  (Co-Investigator), Brock University

o   Dr. Kimberley Wilson (Co-Investigator), University of Guelph

Partner – CanAge  

Dr. Charles Levkoe, Department of Health Sciences, “Thunder Bay and Area Food Systems Report Card”, $25,000.

  • Team

o   Dr. Rebecca Schiff (Co-Investigator), Department of Health Sciences

o   Sue Hamel (Collaborator), EcoSuperior Environmental Programs

o   Ivan Ho  (Collaborator),     Thunder Bay District Health Unit

o   Gwen O’Reilly (Collaborator), Northwestern Ontario Women’s Centre

o   Partner:  Thunder Bay & Area Food Strategy

Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo, Faculty of Education (Orillia), “An Exploration of Well-being in Adults with Developmental Disabilities Residing at Camphill Community Ontario”, $24,925.

  • Team

o   Dr. Gerado Reyes (Collaborator), Sustainability Sciences, Orillia

  • Partner – Camphill Communities Ontario 

Dr. Helle Moeller, Department of Health Sciences, “Adapting the Maternal Mental Health HOPE app for North Western Ontario”, $24,185.

  • Team

o   Dr. Jennifer Chisholm (Co-Investigator), Department of Women’s Studies

o   Dr. Pauline Sameshima (Co-Investigator), Faculty of Education

o   Dr. Dawn Kingston (Co-Investigator), University of Calgary

o   Abigale Kent (Collaborator), Lakehead University

  • Partner – Thunder Bay District Health Unit 

Dr. Ravi Gokani, School of Social Work, “Why Are So Many of Thunder Bay’s Homeless from Other Provinces? An Interdisciplinary, Mixed- Methods Study to Understand the Present and Predict the Future Using Simulation Models”, $22,234.

  • Team

o   Dr. Vijay Mago (Co-Investigator), Department of Computer Science

o   Dr. Rebecca Schiff (Co-Investigator), Department of Health Sciences

o   Dr. Travis Hay (Co-Investigator), Mount Royal University

  • Partner: The District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board 

Dr. Gerardo Reyes, Sustainability Sciences (Orillia), “Fostering the Socio-ecological Resilience of CCO’s Maple Syrup Operation in the Face of Climate Change”, $23,642.

  • Team

o   Dr. Sonia Mastrangelo (Co-Investigator), Faculty of Education, Orillia

  • Partner – Camphill Communities Ontario                                                                   

Dr. Alana Saulnier, Interdisciplinary Studies (Orillia), “Evaluation of the Guelph Police Service’s Body Worn Camera Pilot Project”, $25,000.

  • Partner – Guelph Police Service

Dr. Rebecca Schiff, Department of Health Sciences, “Implementing a Voluntary Local Review for the Sustainable Development Goals in Thunder Bay”, $24,546.

  • Team

o   Dr. Lindsay Galway (Co-Investigator), Department of Health Sciences

o   Dr. Charles Levkoe (Co-Investigator), Department of Health Sciences

o   Dr. Helle Moeller (Co-Investigator), Department of Health Sciences

o   Lee-Ann Chevrette (Collaborator), City of Thunder Bay

o   Bonnie Krysowaty (Collaborator), Lakehead Social Planning Council

o   Partner Organization:  City of Thunder Bay

Dr. Rebecca Schiff, Department of Health Sciences, “COVID – 19 and Pandemic Planning in the Context of Rural and Remote Homelessness”, $24,740 (COVID-19 Special Initiative)

  • Team

o   Dr. Kristy Buccieri (Co-Investigator), Trent University

o   Dr. Julia Christensen (Co-Investigator), Memorial University of Newfoundland

o   Dr. Carol Kauppi (Co-Investigator), Laurentian University

o   Dr. Jeannette Waegemakers Schiff  (Co-Investigator), University of Calgary

  • Partner – National Alliance to End Rural and Remote Homelessness                        

Dr. Karl Skogstad, Department of Economics,COVID-19: The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the Economy of Ontario’s Northern Regions”, $24,305 (COVID-19 Special Initiative)

  • Team

o   Dr. Robert Petrunia (Co-Investigator), Department of Economics

o   Dr. James Townsend (Co-Investigator),  University of Winnipeg

  • Partner – Northern Policy Institute                                                           

Dr. Batia Stolar, Department of English,  “Hearing Voices: the Great Grain Era of the Lakehead”, $24,937.

  • Partner – Friends of Grain Elevators

Dr. Natalya Timoshkina, School of Social Work (Orillia), “COVID-19: The Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Service Provision to Trafficked Persons: Perspectives from Ontario’s Victim Services”, $25,000 (COVID-19 Special Initiative)

  • Partner – North Simcoe Victim Services

Dr. Jo-Ann Vis, School of Social Work, “TAKE’N5: A Collegial Peer Support Model to Mitigate Psychological Stress Injury in the Workplace”, $24,205.

  • Partner – NorWest Community Health Centres

Connection Grants (One-year grants

Dr. Idevania Costa, School of Nursing, “Our Voices, Our Stories: A National Exchange on Humanizing Trauma-informed Wound Care, Healing and Recovery”, $49,110.

  • Team
    • Dr. Catherine Phillips (Co-Investigator), School of Social Work
    • Dr. Michelle-Marie Spadoni, (Co-Investigator), School of Nursing
    • Dr. Pilar Camargo Plazas (Co-Investigator), Queen’s University

o   Mariam Botros (Collaborator), Canadian Association of Wound Care

Dr. Anna Guttman, Department of English, “Ruptured Commons”, $24,947.

  • Team
    • Dr. Veronica Austen (Co-Investigator), St. Jerome’s University
    • Dr. Laura Moss (Co-Investigator), University of British Columbia
    • Dr. Neil ten Kortenaar (Co-Investigator), University of Toronto
    • Dr. John Ball, (Collaborator) University of New Brunswick
    • Dr. Henghameh Saroukhani (Collaborator), Saint Mary’s University

Dr. Lana Ray, Department of Indigenous Learning, “Working Toward Self-Determination Together: Indigenous Research and Data Governance in Canada, Ecuador, and Mexico”, $44,750.

  • Team
    • Dr. Kristin Burnett (Co-Investigator), Department of Indigenous Learning
    • Dr. Cristian Naranjo (Co-Investigator), Universidad Nacional de Chimborazo


Dr. Linda Rodenburg, Department of English (Orillia), “Truth and Reconciliation in Our Community: Enabling Indigenous-led Dialogue”, $24,239.

  • Team
    • Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (Co-Investigator), Chair on Truth & Reconciliation Lakehead University
    • Dr. Kaitlyn Watson (Collaborator), Lakehead University


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