2011-2017 Learning Institute Events

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.


Confirmed Speakers for 2017 Event:

Charlotte Loppie

Dr. Charlotte Loppie is of Mi’kmaq and Acadian ancestry, and has spent her academic career working within the field of Indigenous health research. Currently, Charlotte is a Professor in the School of Public Health and Social Policy, Faculty of Human and Social Development, and Director of the Centre for Indigenous Research and Community-Led Engagement at the University of Victoria.

Her research partners have included individual First Nation communities, as well as regional and national Indigenous organizations (e.g., Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, National Aboriginal Health Organization, and Assembly of First Nations) as well as provincial non-government (e.g., Cancer Care Nova Scotia) and national government stakeholders (e.g., First Nations Inuit Health, Public Health Agency of Canada).

Charlotte has undertaken research and published in areas such as: Aboriginal health inequities, Aboriginal HIV/AIDS, social determinants of Aboriginal health, racism and cultural safety, cancer among Aboriginal peoples, Aboriginal ethics and research capacity building as well as the sexual and reproductive health of Aboriginal women.

Rob Hancock

Dr. Rob Hancock is Métis from northern Alberta on his mother's side and English on his father's. He was born and raised in Lekwungen and Songhees territory, and is grateful to be able to continue to live and work here.

Currently, Rob is the LE,NOṈET Academic Coordinator and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria.

Research interests: historian of anthropology, anthropological representations of Indigenous peoples in Canadian courts and tribunals in the 1960s and 1970s.

Robina Thomas

Dr. Robina Thomas is Lyackson of the Coast Salish Nation. Currently, Robina is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Victoria.

Robina is committed to Indigenous education and her research interests include storytelling, residential schools and Uy'skwuluwun: on being Indigenous. She is dedicated to understanding anti-racism and anti-oppression and how these can be 'lived'.

Research interests: Indigenous Child Welfare, Indigenous Women, Indigenous Governance, Residential Schools, Storytelling

Onowa McIvor

Dr. Onowa McIvor is Swampy Cree and Scottish-Canadian. Currently, Onowa is an Assistant Professor and Director of Indigenous Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria.

Her research interests include Indigenous language revitalization, second language learning, and Indigenous education broadly, as well as intersections with Indigenous health with both education and language revitalization.

Most importantly, she is raising two young daughters along with her partner and their extended families.

Andrea Walsh

Dr. Andrea Walsh is a visual anthropologist at the University of Victoria, specializing in 20th century and contemporary Indigenous visual and material culture and curating. She directs UVIC’s Salish Visiting Artist Program and a SSHRC research program about residential school art collections Canada. She has recently curated exhibits at the Legacy Art Gallery (2013), the Alberni Valley Museum (2014/15), and the Campbell River Art Gallery (2015).

Her work as a visual anthropologist and curator is two-fold; Indian Residential School and Indian Day School art collections, and contemporary art practices by Indigenous artists from nations in Canada.

Jeff Ansloos

Dr. Jeffrey Ansloos is a researcher, educator and policy advisor in the areas of youth engagement, violence prevention, migration, mental health, and Indigenous and human rights.

Currently, Jeffrey is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Human and Social Development and the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Victoria. He teaches, researchers, and supervises primarily in the School of Child and Youth Care.

Jeffrey’s current research focuses on youth-informed theory, policy and practices to address violence and identity-based conflicts, peace-building and development, mental health, and digital ecologies of youth identity, community and culture. He is especially committed to collaborative research with Indigenous, migrant, street involved, and LGBTQ2 youth.

Margo Greenwood

Margo Greenwood is an Indigenous scholar of Cree ancestry with more than 20 years of experience in the field of early childhood education. Professionally and personally, children have been the focus of her life. She has worked as a front line caregiver of early childhood services, designed early childhood curriculum, programs, and evaluations, and taught early childhood education courses at both the college and university levels. As a mother of three, she is personally committed to the continued well-being of children and youth in Canada.

Currently, Margo is a Professor in both the First Nations Studies and Education programs at the University of Northern British Columbia. She has served with over 20 national and provincial federations, committees and assemblies, and has undertaken work with UNICEF, the United Nations, and the Canadian Reference Group to the World Health Organization Commission on Health Determinants. In recognition of her years’ work in early childhood, Margo Greenwood was the recipient of the Queen's Jubilee medal in 2002.

Suzanne Stewart

Dr. Suzanne Stewart is a member of the Yellowknife Dene First Nation. She is a mother of four children, a psychologist and Associate Professor of Indigenous Healing in Counselling Psychology at OISE/University of Toronto. She is also Special Advisor the Dean on Aboriginal Education, the Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Homelessness & Life Transition, Interim Director Indigenous Education Initiative, and the Director of the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health.

Research and teaching interests include Indigenous mental health and healing in psychology (homelessness, youth mental health, identity, and work-life development), and Indigenous pedagogies in teacher education, higher education and psychotherapy practice/training. She is also Chair of the Aboriginal Section of the Canadian Psychology Association and is committed to advancing Indigenous healing issues through the discipline of psychology.

Jeff Reading

Dr. Jeff Reading is a Mohawk from the Tyendinaga First Nation in Ontario. Currently, Jeff is a professor and the Inaugural British Columbia First Nations Health Authority Chair in Heart Health and Wellness at St. Paul’s Hospital based at Simon Fraser University.

Jeff has more than two decades of experience enhancing knowledge in Indigenous health issues, both in Canada and globally. He has played a pivotal role in the introduction of Canadian ethics guidelines for Aboriginal health research.

His broad research interests include, but are not limited to: the social determinants of health, environmental issues including provision of safe potable water, health promotion and disease prevention, heart health, diabetes, tobacco misuse and accessibility to health care among Aboriginal Canadians.

He also made key contributions to the Canadian Academy of Health Science's report and solutions that aim to have a particular impact on Indigenous Peoples’ health globally.

Nick Claxton

Nick is from the SȾÁUTW̱ Community of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation. Strongly rooted in his Indigenous community and culture, Nick’s research and teaching interests include the revitalization of Indigenous knowledge systems and land/water based practices, which he believes provide important lessons in sustainable living.

Nick received his PhD in Educational Studies from UVIC where he is also an Assistant Teaching Professor in Indigenous Education.

Mark Matthew

Namaste Marsden

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.