Developing the Vision and Mission of CRHESI
The Center for Research Health Equity and Social Inclusion (CRHESI) is a university and community partnership that was formally established in November 2015. However, our process really began two years earlier. During this formative period, researchers from across Western came together with leaders in the community to articulate hopes and dreams for a different kind of research center.
Our vision was for a centre that would be jointly led by community and academic partners, where those most directly impacted by the issues would have a voice in determining the questions we ask, how we ask them, and what we do with the knowledge we generate. Throughout this two-year period, we engaged in dialogue, contemplated the possibilities and the challenges, articulated the principles that would guide our activities, and most importantly, began to foster the trusting relationships that were, and continue to be, so integral to our success.
Our conversations were not always easy, forcing us to examine how differences in power and priorities would shape our work. We looked for other centers that we hoped might offer inspiration and that could serve as a model to guide us. While we found many research centres that emphasized community-based research, these were consistently housed within the university and were led by the university. Community partners were acknowledged in significant ways and played important roles, but the governance structures typically privileged the voices and expertise of those within the academy.
Today, CRHESI is home to a wide network of community and academic researchers, leaders, and knowledge users/mobilizers who are committed to the broad goals of health equity and social inclusion.