Our vital impact

Jim Tanaka
Using computer games and apps, psychologist Jim Tanaka and his team at UVic's Centre for Autism Research Technology are helping young people with autism hone their social skills in a fun way.

Essential, innovative, life-changing—that’s the vital impact that defines UVic research. Our researchers work with communities and organizations across Canada and around the globe to move ideas, discoveries, creations and inventions forward for the benefit of society and the world around us.

Bernie Pauly, registered nurse and researcherA sleeping bag in a car, an unpadded perch on a cold piece of cement, a nylon shell at a local park, a mat on the floor—this is no place like home. Yet these unhealthy and unsafe conditions are the reality for hundreds of men and women in Greater Victoria who are marginalized by homelessness and substance use.

Bernie Pauly, a registered nurse and researcher with UVic’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC, is working with a core group of university researchers and community partners to improve the lives of people impacted by homelessness, poverty and substance use.

Pauly says her research is propelled by one overarching belief—“that everyone deserves a home and as a community we all have a role to play in making that happen.”

Ethnographic mappingWorking alongside Indigenous communities and tech giant Google, anthropologist Brian Thom and graduate students in UVic’s Ethnographic Mapping Lab are helping to map Indigenous place names, traditional use sites, and cultural sites using leading digital technologies.

“Mapping provides for the cross-over of knowledge between elders who are keen to share and young people who are using technology such as mobile devices and cloud-based computing,” says Thom.

The maps also provide powerful evidence-based information for Indigenous communities to bring to the table during discussions over land and resource management, and the recognition of Aboriginal treaty rights.

UVic's CanAssist programEnabling people with acute disabilities to communicate and exercise control over their environment is one of the roles of UVic’s CanAssist, a unique community-based program dedicated to improving the lives of those with special needs.

CanAssist unites faculty, student and staff resources on campus with those in the community. The team has developed more than 300 technology solutions and helped hundreds of clients across BC and around the world.

For example, CanAssist developed an electronic device known as a Spinner that allows people with very challenging disabilities, such as Morgan pictured here, to participate in games such as Snakes and Ladders and Twister.