Archived Events

Learning Institutes

Learning Institute 2017

Reconciling Indigenous Research Relationships

The CIRCLE was pleased to host the 2017 CIRCLE Gathering (Learning Institute) at the Ceremonial Hall, First Peoples House June 27th-30th 2017.


This year’s focus was innovative, educational and inspiring. The 2017 Learning Institute offered students, researchers, trainees, community and organizational representatives the opportunity to work together to catalyze the reconciliation of Indigenous research relationships within BC.

Participants had the opportunity to:

  • Enhance participants’ understanding of healthy Indigenous research relationships.
  • Provide networking opportunities for participants.
  • Facilitate research relationships among participants.
  • Provide reciprocal mentorship opportunities for community members, students and research trainees.

Learning Institute 2016

How research plays a role in implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations

The CIRCLE was pleased to host the 2016 CIRCLE Gathering (Learning Institute) at the Songhees Wellness Centre from June 7-10, 2016.

This year’s focus wasw on the role of research in the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Recommendations, with particular emphasis education, cultural safety, and land and art-based learning. The four-day gathering provided a venue for intergenerational learning, knowledge transmission, and relationship building among researchers, health professionals, students, youth, Elders, and knowledge holders.

Participants had the opportunity to:

  • Generate ideas that inform, prepare for, and undertake research that contributes to implementation of the TRC Recommendations
  • Increase your knowledge of TRC Recommendations and their applications,
  • Help develop new ideas and projects that address the TRC Recommendations,
  • Engage in mentorships, partnerships and relationships amongst participants and their networks,
  • Co-create new inclusive and diverse networks and connections, and increase diversity and reach of existing networks, and
  • Develop skills and knowledge relevant to the focus areas of education, cultural safety, and land- and art-based learning

Learning Institute 2015

The Visioning Health Learning Lodge: Learning By Doing

Indigenous, Strength-based, Culturally grounded, Arts-informed Research

We were excited to host the 2015 CAHR Learning Institute at the University of Victoria on Coast and Straits Salish territory from June 1-5, 2015.
The Centre for Aboriginal Health Research offered a unique week-long learning experience of Visioning Health - an approach to Indigenous health research centred on Indigenous knowledges, traditions, as well as individual and collective strengths that can be healing for participants. In fact, past participants of Visioning Health refer to the process and activities as “life-changing”, “life-giving”, and “damn good medicine”.

Attendees of the 2015 Learning Lodge participated in arts-informed group research workshops, in which a variety of art-forms were learned and created as a group through Indigenous teachings and knowledge. Throughout the week, the groups came together to share their experiences, to engage in participatory analysis, and to celebrate their accomplishments.
Participants of this year’s Learning Lodge learned about the Visioning Health research process, and engaged in it. The week also included:

  • Talks with the designers and original participants of Visioning Health
  • The guidance of an Indigenous Elder
  • Learning about and participating in diverse arts-based methods
  • Participating in discussions about the meaning of your artwork
  • Learning about and participating in group analysis
  • Gathering and building (in ceremony) a lodge to showcase artwork

The Teaching Lodge
The Visioning Health lodge is an Anishinabe teaching lodge that has been built in the way of a sacred lodge. This is one type of lodge, specific to the peoples of Algonquin ancestry who call themselves Anishinabek. Traditionally, teaching lodges were and continue to be used for ceremonies, and for the sharing of Indigenous teachings and Indigenous knowledge. They are sacred spaces where sacred stories are often told.

During this year’s CAHR Learning Lodge, attendees participated in the sacred assembling of the teaching lodge, including the gathering and harvesting of the willow branches used as the primary structural material.

Learning Institute 2014

Intervention research

We hosted the 2014 CAHR Learning Institute at the University of Victoria on Coast and Straits Salish territory from November 3-7, 2014. We explored how intervention research can contribute to Aboriginal health.

Intervention research represents a unique opportunity for researchers and community members to utilize the strengths of both western science and Indigenous knowledge. Ultimately, the goal of intervention research is for community members to identify their own problems and to design their own solutions.

Participants gained skills in:
• identifying the opportunities and challenges of intervention research for Aboriginal communities
• assessing ethical considerations and ensuring cultural safety in intervention research
• planning and implementing intervention research
• promoting self-determination through equitable research partnerships
• developing knowledge translation resources and events

Thank you very much to our sponsors who supported the institute:
• National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health
• Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Learning Institute 2013

Aboriginal Health Knowledge to Action: Mobilizing Research into Policy and Practice for Better Health

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Margo Greenwood

Each morning of the institute, guest speakers gave presentations on their areas of expertise, covering a wide range of health topics, including those listed below. The presentations were each followed by a short discussion facilitated by the speaker, CAHR staff and volunteer facilitators. The morning activities of the institute focused on dissemination of new knowledge from Aboriginal health research and projects. The content of the presentations also fueled discussion and provided useful information for the institute’s afternoon activities.

• Social determinants of health
• Aboriginal approaches to health and healing
• Cultural competence and cultural safety
• Research ethics
• Indigenous research methodologies
• Aboriginal health policy
• Aboriginal health governance
• Global Indigenous health
• Aboriginal youth health
• Aboriginal women’s health
• Aboriginal senior’s health
• Genetic issues in Aboriginal health
• Program evaluation methodologies

Each afternoon, participants were divided into small groups. The groups remained the same day-to-day and each group is assigned two facilitators. These facilitators were graduate students who worked with CAHR or Summer Institute alumni who participated in a previous institute and volunteered to return as a facilitator. The groups were guided through discussion of the morning’s presentations, which led to the development of each group’s proposal for a community-based research project or health promotion program. Examples of group proposal topics included promoting healthy foods in remote communities, developing a cultural education program to improve the mental health of Aboriginal foster children, and establishing a sexual health centre for Aboriginal women. The discussions and group projects ensured participants of the institute understood the new knowledge presented by the guest speakers and provided an opportunity for participants to practice the process of knowledge translation with the purpose of improving Aboriginal health.

On the final day of the institute, each group presented their project proposal before a panel of Aboriginal health experts, who asked questions and provided feedback. Each group also took a turn at critiquing another group’s project. This final exercise allowed institute participants to exchange ideas, compare how their peers approached the knowledge translation project and identify the new knowledge and skills they have developed throughout the week. Overall, the Summer Institute promoted knowledge dissemination, knowledge translation and capacity building in Aboriginal health research and Aboriginal community health work.

Learning Institute 2012

Prevention and Wellness Across the Lifespan: Community Engagement & Leadership

A non-credit certificate course

Course Credit
INGH 520 Units 1.5 (offered this summer also as PHSP 480 Special Topics: same title, for undergraduate students)
Community Engagement and Leadership

The concepts of respect, trust, cultural safety, and their historical significance in engaging with Indigenous communities were explored. De-colonizing practices were emphasized through the exploration of relational practice and community capacity building as methods for effective engagement of community. Topics included the implications of recognizing the communal ownership of knowledge within Indigenous culture; the value of Indigenous knowledge and mentorship in the emergence of Indigenous health leaders.

This course examined core concepts in Indigenous health, following a lifecourse perspective. The course was delivered by Dr. Charlotte Reading and Dr. Jeff Reading, and featured lectures from leading Aboriginal health researchers including: Dr. Janet Smylie, Dr. Margo Greenwood, Dr. Chris Lalonde, Dr. Laura Arbour, Dr. Marcus Lem, Cheryl Ward, Alvin Manitopyes and others.

This course was of interest to community health professionals, administrators, government officials, students, members of the academy and interested members of the public who wanted to obtain a better understanding of Aboriginal health and well being help students develop insight into:

• intervention research approaches and methodologies that accommodate Aboriginal cultures and community norms
• integrated knowledge translation strategies
• community-based research approaches
• traditional health and healing approaches
• development and implementation of evidence-based health, social and economic policy across all life stages
• the current state of Aboriginal public health and social policy in Canada
• social determinants of health, life course epidemiology
• ethical frameworks in Aboriginal health research

Learning Institute 2011

The Summer Institute (2011) was our first venture into a summer intensive learning experience. This week-long interdisciplinary course was open to all, and provided participants with a comprehensive examination of Aboriginal health research and knowledge translation.

Participants acquired skills in: critically assessing Aboriginal public health and social policy; approaches to Aboriginal and public health research and service delivery, examining life course and social determinants; community-based intervention and program evaluation research; evidence-based health, social and economic policy development; and ethical frameworks for Aboriginal health research. Participants also learned skills in preparing successful funding proposals.

Speaker Series

2017-2018 Series

Speaker: Elder May Sam
Topic: Opening the Series
Date: September 19, 2017

Speaker: Indigenous Mentorship Network of the Pacific-Northwest
Topic: Mentorship event
Date: October 10, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Jeffrey Paul Ansloos
Topic: "Living into Unknowns: Decolonial futures in applied psychology and human development"
Date: November 7, 2017

Speaker: Dr. Allison Reeves
Topic: "Healing (and re-healing) from sexualized trauma: Integrated teachings from Elders, Indigenous community research, clinical and forensic psychology, and front-line psychotherapy"
Date: January 30, 2018

Speaker: Dr. Jean-Paul Restoule
Topic: "How do you include community in community-based research? Some recent Indigenous education research examples"
Date: February 20, 2018

Speaker: Dr. Waaseyaa'sin Christine Sy
Topic: "From Territorial Acknowledgements to Here-ing: (Indigenous) Methodology for Being in Someone Else’s Home"
Date: March 20, 2018

2016-2017 Series

Speaker: Dr. Charlotte Loppie
Topic: "Role of research in the TRC"

Speaker: Dr. Nick Claxton
Topic: "Indigenous Research & Resurgence" 

Speaker: Dr. Billie Allan
Topic: "Gathering old knowledge and carrying it forward: Research as 'helper' in addressing the impact of racism on Indigenous health and well-being"

Speaker: Dr. Paul Whitinui
Topic: "Indigenous MINDS: Freeing ourselves to passionately engage across disciplines"

Speaker: Dr. Heidi Stark
Topic: "Narrating the Nation-State: The Story of Aboriginal Title"

Speaker: Dr. Devi Mucina
Topic: "Decolonizing Indigenous Masculinities"

2015-2016 Series

Speaker: Jaqueline Anaquod
Topic: Housing and health for Indigenous people living with HIV in Canada

Speaker: Erynne Gilpin
Topic: Insurgent Healing: Land-based wellness as governance

Speaker: Cynthia Stirbys
Topic: Impacts of residential school on female survivors and their female descendants

2014-2015 Series

Speaker: Sherri Pooyak
Topic: Indigenous women of the sex trade share stories of family and resiliency

Speakers: John Elliot, Jeff Corntassel
Topics: The Importance of Indigenous Languages and Lands, Resurgent Indigenous Landscapes: Sustainability and Food Sovereignty on Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ Homelands

Speaker: Fiona Devereaux
Topic: Setting the Table - Indigenous Food projects on the Island

Speaker: Clarita Lefthand-Begay
Topic: Water Security: the value of water and our well-being

Speaker: Christine O'Bonsawin
Topic: From Black Power to Indigenous Activism: The Olympic Movement and the Marginilization of Oppressed Peoples

Speaker: Kendra Gage & Charlotte Loppie
Topic: Hulitan Family & Community Services and CAHR Pilot Study

Speaker: Dr. Solomon Amuno
Topic: Health Implication of harvesting Traditional Country Food from Former Mining Areas: Case Study of Arctic Bay, Nunavut

2013-2014 Series

Speaker: Dr. Evan Adams, actor, playwright, physician and Deputy Provincial Health Officer of BC
Topic: Provincial Health Services Authority Indigenous Cultural Competency

Speaker: Dr. Lorna Williams, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair of Indigenous Knowledge and Learning in the Faculty of Education and Department of Linguistics at UVic

Speaker: Dr. Taiaiake Alfred, researcher, philosopher, author and professor of Indigenous Governance at UVic

Speaker: Dr. Charlotte Reading, Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Health and associate professor in the School of Public Health and Social Policy, Faculty of Human and Social Development, UVic

Speaker: Dr. Jacquie Green, project manager for the Indigenous Child Well-being Research Network and the first Indigenous director of any School of Social Work in Canada

2012-2013 Series

Speaker: Dr. Samaya Van Tyler, PhD
Topic:Walking with Lions: HIV and women living in Kibera

Speaker: Dr. Jessica Ball, Professor in the School of Child and Youth Care at UVic
Topic: Father involvement and wellness: First Nations and Metis men's journeys

Speaker: Joanne Mills, Lead Facilitator, PHSA Indigenous Cultural Competence Program
Topic:Provincial Health Services Authority, Indigenous Cultural Competency Training (ICC)

Speaker: El-Shadan Tautolo, BSC., PGDip. Forensics, MHSc. (Hons), PhD.
Topic: The Pacific Islands Families study: Longitudinal investigations of health and wellbeing amongst Pacific families in New Zealand

Speaker: Fernando Polanco, M.Sc. 
Topic: Type 2 Diabetes and KCNQ1 Mutation in First Nations People of Northern British Columbia

2011-2012 Series

Speaker: Catherine Graham, MA, Director, Metis Centre of the National Aboriginal Health Organization
Topic: Metis Health Research: Obstacles and Opportunities

Speaker: Tania Smethurst, MSc candidate, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria.
Topic: Promoting Mental Health in First Nations Youth: A Wilderness Program Evaluation Toolkit

Speaker: Dr. Charlotte Reading, Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Social Policy, Faculty of Human and Social Development (University of Victoria).
Topic: The Role of Racist Sexism in the Lives of Aboriginal Women with HIV

Speaker: Dr. Vicky Scott, Senior Advisor, Fall and Injury Prevention BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, BC Ministry of Health Services
Topic:Healthy Aging through Fall Prevention among Older Aboriginal People

Speaker: Dr. Jeff Reading, MSc, PhD, FCAHS
Topic: Global Indigenous Health: An Opportunity for Canadian Leadership

Speaker: Be’sha Blondin, Dene Traditional Healer/Elder
Topic: Indigenous Traditional Healing and Medicine as a pathway to Health and Wellness

2010-2011 Series

Speaker: Dr. Charlotte Reading
Topic: Racism as a Social Determinant of Indigenous Health

Speaker: Dr. Nancy Turner
Topic: Why Care about Indigenous Food

Speaker: Dr. Laura Arbour
Topic: Infant mortality, birth defects and other birth outcomes in Nunavut: The challenge of translating data collection into improved health

Speaker: Professor Onowa McIvor
Topic: Language and Culture as protective factors, resilience in Indigenous communities

Speaker: Dr. Jeff Reading
Topic: An Introduction to Aboriginal health: what determines Aboriginal health in Canada and around the world