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UVic health scholars collaborate, convene and connect

January 10, 2024

UVic scholars collaborate, convene and connect with agencies, practitioners and service users for optimal impact of their health research.

Eight of them recently received funding from two Michael Smith Health Research BC programs. Convening & Collaborating (C2) and Reach enable health researchers to foster collaboration, disseminate and implement evidence, and increase the impact of their research—ultimately improving the health of people and communities in the province.

These team-based funding programs mobilize communities for research impact as well as build research talent for BC’s future. They support collaborations and co-development between researchers and the people who will use the research; and enable health researchers and professionals to develop skills and experience in knowledge translation, which accelerates the pathway from evidence to impact on policy and practice.

Fostering meaningful collaboration to ensure relevance

C2 awards support health researchers and research users to engage in meaningful collaboration to co-create relevant and impactful research for people such as patients, health practitioners and policymakers.

Elizabeth Jean Buckler of UVic’s School of Exercise Science, Health and Physical Education is working with Jennie McCaffrey, vice-president of strategic relationships at BC Parks, on “A partnership for PaRX: Developing a road map for evaluating and expanding implementation and sustainability of a national parks prescription program.”

The BC-based initiative PaRX is Canada’s first evidence-based nature prescription program. Licensed healthcare providers in Canada can register with the program and provide evidence-based prescriptions to their patients to spend more time in nature. The UVic-led team of researchers will partner with the BC Parks Foundation that delivers PaRX, and a licensed family physician. Together, they will develop an evaluation strategy for the short- and long-term to ensure that high-quality nature prescriptions that benefit health are available and accessible to residents of BC and throughout Canada for years to come.


Catherine Costigan, a psychology professor at UVic, and Adrienne Carter of the Vancouver Island Counselling Centre for Immigrants and Refugees plan to improve access to health care with their project “Creating and sharing innovative models for language interpreter services and cultural bridging in health care: A health equity approach.”

Because they have longstanding collaborations across the Capital Regional District, they can identify promising tactics for navigating provincial and local language and cultural resources that will help newcomer communities get the health care they need.

“With this award, I will be able to help promote language interpretation and cultural brokering services within health care,” says Costigan. “This will ensure that newcomers’ health care needs are adequately addressed across primary care, urgent care, mental health care and acute care contexts.”


Through their project “Community-Engaged Solutions for Recognizing and Responding to Overdose-Induced Brain Injury,” Mauricio Garcia-Barrera and Geoffrey Sing intend to build priorities for future research and produce a community-driven list of recommendations for recognizing and responding to hypoxic brain injury after non-fatal toxic drug overdose.

Garcia-Barrera, a psychology professor at UVic, and Sing, manager of brain injury services at the Cridge Centre for the Family, will leverage the knowledge of researchers, people with lived experience of drug-related brain injuries, and community leaders to create recommendations for research and practice. Their goal is to ensure that brain injury after non-fatal overdose is recognized when it happens that that the people who experience it receive the services they need.


With “Dementia Friendly Communities: Bringing to the Fore the Perspectives and Needs of People with Dementia Who Live Alone,” Mariko Sakamoto of UVic’s School of Nursing and Lynn Jackson of the Innovation in Dementia and Aging Lab at UBC intend to include people living with dementia in the conversations about and planning for dementia-friendly communities. With these partners from across the province of BC, the team will co-design an action plan for ongoing work with organizations and policy makers to help people living with dementia live in comfort and connection with others.

Reaching people impacted by health research

Reach awards support health researchers to disseminate research evidence by co-developing events, activities, and tools with research users. The funding helps research teams reach audiences who can use the knowledge to make an impact.


Lisa Bourque Bearskin, a professor in UVic’s School of Nursing, and Nikki Hunter, Indigenous Health Nurse with the Interior Health Authority, plan to build on the findings of an Indigenous nurse-led research project completed in May 2023.

“Exploring the Experiences of First Nations Mental Health and Wellness Services with Skú7pecen (Porcupine)” will showcase Knowledge synthesis, translation and mobilization activities and events co-led by St’uxwstews (Bonaparte First Nation).

Knowledge Translation initiatives will include workshops, presentations, a community-based event, possibly video production, scholarly publications and evidence-informed dialogue sessions that will guide and enhance mental health and wellness care and access to First Nations Peoples within the interior region, with a specific focus on rural and remote First Nations communities.


Cecilia Benoit, UVic sociology professor emeritus and scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, with Julia Langton of Foundry BC, will implement “Provincial Dissemination of Lower Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines for Youth, by Youth.” An outcome of an earlier Michael Smith C2 grant, the guidelines were developed for and by youth, responding to calls by the Lancet Commission and BC’s Representative for Children and Youth for the greater inclusion of youth voices in policies and guidelines that support their health and wellbeing.

In this phase, a youth working group will co-create and implement with CISUR and Foundry a knowledge translation plan to mobilize the guidelines at provincial, national, and international levels. In doing so, we aim to promote youth-oriented harm reduction guidelines and contribute to the health and wellness of youth in Canada.


Sam Liu, School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education at UVic, and Karen Strange of the Childhood Obesity Foundation, will design, evaluate and scale up a healthy lifestyle program for families with children aged 8-12 years.

“Disseminating a Multilingual Virtual Family-Based Childhood Obesity Management Program” will leverage artificial language translation tools to make this virtual program accessible in the three most spoken non-English languages (Punjabi, Chinese, Spanish) in Canada; and disseminate the program across BC.


Sarah Wiebe, a professor in UVic’s School of Public Administration, and Kirsten Mah, Healthy Communities Planner with BC’s Capital Regional District, are building on previous research to create “A Hot Topic Podcast: Amplifying the Voices of those Directly Affected by Extreme Heat.”

The 2021 heat dome in BC resulted in 619 heat-related deaths and a range of suffering from slight discomfort to emergency room visits. The way people were impacted was not uniform, but many governments and agencies responded with one-size-fits-all solutions. To better understand the diversity of experience related to extreme heat, we have embarked on a robust research project collecting survey responses and sharing circle engagement from hundreds of people across the Capital Regional District in BC. To ensure this research drives appropriate equity-informed policy creation and government action, we will now amplify the voices and stories through a podcast series.