Announcing the launch of SFU CAN: COVID-19 Action Now

April 30, 2020

Simon Fraser University is launching a university-wide hub to share resources, create networks and support community efforts to address the COVID-19 crisis and its consequences.

SFU COVID-19 Action Now (SFU CAN) highlights the SFU community’s ongoing work in response to this global pandemic such as vital research, sourcing medical supplies, delivering community educational programming, providing expert media commentary and facilitating the development of economic recovery strategies.

SFU CAN provides opportunities to build partnerships that protect and sustain the communities we serve during this difficult time as well as to look ahead to support post-pandemic recovery efforts. There’s never been a more important time to connect, collaborate and mobilize our collective knowledge.

“I am inspired by the many ways in which SFU faculty, staff and students have stepped up to address the COVID-19 crisis and its consequences for the communities we serve,” says SFU President Andrew Petter. “SFU CAN will help to recognize, connect and extend these efforts consistent with our mission as Canada’s Engaged University.”

Collaboration: SFU-Community COVID-19 Response and Recovery Network

As communities in B.C. and around the world begin to recover from the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 there will be discussions about how to build more resilient and vibrant communities.

SFU will help facilitate these discussions and create opportunities for collaboration through the SFU-Community COVID-19 Response and Recovery Network. The network uses both Zoom and Slack platforms to build new relationships, catalyze dialogues on key challenges and pursue initiatives to influence how we emerge from this pandemic.

"We started the network less than two weeks ago, but already dialogues on climate action, food security and connection with seniors have started," says Diane Finegood, professor and fellow at SFU's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, who has helped launch the network. "It is exciting to see people come together so quickly, to connect with others across all three SFU campuses and in the future, across communities outside of SFU. This pandemic while keeping us physically distant, has brought us together in new and important ways."

Contribution: Highlighting the SFU community’s vital work

SFU CAN will showcase the university community’s work in response to the pandemic and highlight the contributions of students, alumni, faculty and staff.

SFU CAN provides an overview of vital research being conducted at SFU such as:

  • Biochemistry and microbiology professor Peter Unrau’s team is developing coronavirus testing kits using SFU-invented RNA imaging technology.
  • Mathematics and epidemiology professor Caroline Colijn is using modelling to forecast the possible spread of the virus.
  • Kelley Lee is leading a project that will support global coordination of the COVID-19 outbreak response.
  • Julia Smith is studying the gender-related effects of COVID-19.

The hub includes insights and tips from SFU experts about how to successfully weather this crisis. Their stories speak to the various effects of COVID-19 on society including challenges in maintaining physical and mental health, using technology to stay connected, supporting seniors, considering the environmental impact and adjusting to economic disruption.

SFU CAN will also feature stories that demonstrate how SFU is contributing to the fight against COVID-19 including SFU alumni producing face shields and faculty collecting personal protective equipment to protect frontline workers.

Community initiatives: connecting people, resources and opportunities

SFU CAN will keep the broader community informed about programs and resources that promote social connection, foster dialogue and support community recovery:

  • COVID-19 has highlighted issues of inequality. In response, SFU Public Square, the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue and CityHive are hosting a series of moderated discussions to build a more equitable and empathetic post-COVID-19 world called Distant, Not Disengaged.
  • SFU Public Square has compiled a comprehensive list of resources to help connect with and support each other in these challenging times. Resources include tips on how to host a virtual event and ways to connect with neighbours while physical distancing.

Another key part of SFU CAN is enabling students to access the resources and supports they need, while learning of opportunities such as co-op and work placements related to COVID-19 research and recovery. 

SFU Community Engagement Initiative

Through the Community Engagement Initiative, staff and faculty can create an impact in the community through research, learning and creative activity.