CERi Welcomes Three Researchers-in-Residence

July 09, 2020

Nick Blomley is one of three SFU faculty members that CERi was excited to welcome in May to the Researchers-in-Residence program. He is joined by SFU’s School of Communication Associate Professor Enda Brophy and Angela Kaida, Associate Professor in Health Sciences and Canada Research Chair Tier II in Global Perspectives in HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health.

For Blomley, being part of the program provides an opportunity to advance SFU’s engagement initiative. “I think SFU’s done good work on this but I think that as an institution we need to push this further and harder.”

Community-engaged research (CER) has been conducted for decades by researchers at SFU and beyond. Yet this type of research has traditionally lacked appropriate recognition and resources to support it.

CERi’s Researcher-in-Residence program aims to support and promote SFU faculty members, graduate students and community partners whose research involves the spectrum of CER methods. The program facilitates opportunities for stakeholders to share their research activities and encourage meaningful engagement across the SFU community.

A key part of CER is focused on amplifying the voices of partner communities. This allows for communities to benefit from the relationship and strengthens the validity of the outcomes.

“I’ve been conducting community-engaged research since I began my faculty position and it’ll be exciting to have a larger community of researchers and trainees at SFU where we can share our approaches, our methodologies, our learning to help grow and inform and improve our practice,” says Dr. Angela Kaida from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

For instance, Kaida conducts research where women are centered in the research and the questions that are pursued are of interest and priority to women living with HIV. “To me CER is research that aims to be transformational, it’s research where you’re working in collaboration with a community of interest to identify research questions, to bring our respective expertise to the methodology … and to collaboratively interpret and to share these findings from that research.”

Photo: Dr. Angela Kaida


To me CER is research that aims to be transformational, it’s research where you’re working in collaboration with a community of interest to identify research questions.

Her research focuses on women living with HIV and how the environment, the policies and the health care factors affect their sexual and reproductive health. Earlier this spring, CERi partnered with Kaida to support two of her research projects through the Faculty-Student Research Program.

Kaida’s research has led to a critical shift in how women living with HIV are seen, by placing their needs at the centre of the conversation.

“A great deal of academic research on sexual health and HIV has really stayed in the realm of concerns about the risks that women living with HIV present to other people, be they potential sexual partners or future infants,” she explains. “Through our CER collaborations, we’re learning and sharing research findings about the importance of sexual health for the woman living with HIV herself. Her own satisfaction, her own choices, her own pleasures. This is such a meaningful area of research that has been so sadly neglected in over 35+ years of HIV research.”

Working with and alongside communities to gain perspective about their most pressing concerns is a foundational part of Dr. Enda Brophy’s research methods. He is deeply interested in cultivating co-research practices that question and break down the boundary between the researcher and researched.

“When these projects are working best the distinction that is often made in more empiricist work between researcher and researched is questioned or even eliminated. Similarly, when co-research works best, the distinction between the production of knowledge and that of politics is also eliminated,” says Brophy.

Ultimately, for him the production of knowledge is at one and the same time the production of political organizing and activism. “One of the traditions that I have paid a lot of attention to is that of co-research, also known as worker inquiry, which was developed in post-war Italy among Marxist scholars who in a similar way envisioned knowledge that was co-developed between scholars and workers because both were a part of the labour movement.”

Conducted collaboratively with the members of the UNITE HERE Local 40 union, his project at CERi will examine the impact of COVID on food service workers at SFU. More than half of these workers are women, a number of them are immigrants, and many are people of colour. The university has outsourced this work to Chartwells, and food service workers are facing a number of critical issues. One is that they have been without a contract for months, and therefore lack job security for the near future. Making the situation worse is that most of these workers were laid off due to the pandemic and do not know when or if they will be able to return to work. For those who have remained at work there are serious safety concerns working on the frontlines during a pandemic.

“I see this as an opportunity to put the co-research methodology into practice,” says Brophy. “This is an opportunity for us to develop a solidarity-based research project in the community which is co-designed with workers and their union. These are important members of the SFU community who are in a very tough spot, and for a university that has enacted recent initiatives around diversity and trumpets the fact it hasn’t laid off any workers, their situation has been mostly ignored it feels.”


This is an opportunity for us to develop a solidarity-based research project in the community which is co-designed with workers and their union.


Photo: Dr. Enda Brophy

He will be working with two graduate students, Lillian Deeb and Yi Chien Jade Ho, both of whom have extensive experience of solidarity organizing across different unions on campus. “They really are going to be the driving force of the project,” says Brophy.

Blomley will also be working with two graduate students during his residency and, similar to Brophy, he finds this work is a vital part of research. “Students are doing the most interesting work, it’s where the action is,” he explains. “I learn from my students an awful lot, it’s education for the university and the research community more widely, it’s a two-way street in my mind.”

Photo: Dr. Nick Blomley


Students are doing the most interesting work, it’s where the action is.

The two graduate students working with Blomley on CERi-affiliated projects are Marina Chavez and Claire Shapton. They will be working on community-based projects relating to precariously housed people, and the challenges they face in securing and controlling their possessions.

Blomley is also working in the Right to Remain project: Integral to this work is an exploration of the history of Vancouver’s private SROs, the history of habitation, the history of legal regulation or the lack thereof, notes Blomley, adding that the project is now also looking at questions of culture and Indigeneity.

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