CRHESI at Pathways to Health Equity 2016

The Centre for Research on Health Equity and Social Inclusion shared its story at the Pathways to Health Equity: Levelling the Playing Field conference held this May 30-June 2 in Winnipeg, MA.

Dr. Helene Berman, Centre co-director, described CRHESI’s vision to bring community and academic partners in collaborative processes that generate relevant research questions. “Community-academic partnerships take time,” said Helene. “We work to bring our equity lens to our vision for change in the community, but also to how we conduct partnerships within our Centre.”

Attendees to this talk were interested in approaches to maintain equity through the development of research and knowledge-translation projects. They asked about processes that supported community membership and presence at decision-making tables. Helene spoke to the Centre’s commitments to self-reflection in all its processes, including how and when meetings were held, how Steering and Governance bodies were constituted, and attention to issues of power and representation that emerge.

Local Poverty Reduction Fund Workshop

To optimize chances of success, the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the Centre for Research on Health Equity and Inclusion, and Pillar NonProfit Network have organized a collaborative capacity-building workshop. Its aim is to share insights, coordinate for joint applications, and strategically address priorities as articulated in the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy and the London Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty Report, London For All: A Roadmap to End Poverty.

Please join us on Friday, May 13, 9 am to 12 noon, at the London Civic Gardens, 625 Springbank Drive in London. The morning will include:
-A review of successful 2015 applications
-Research and academic tips for grant application writing, pitfalls to avoid and lessons learned
-Table discussions to generate collaborative applications in 2016
-Questions and answers by Ontario Trillium Foundation LPRF support staff


LPRF Workshop May 13

Meet CRHESI: Nadine Wathen

Nadine Wathen PhD ( is Associate Professor & Faculty Scholar at Western Univeristy, a Research Scholar at Western’s Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, and a Member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada. Her research examines the health and social service sector response to violence against women and children, interventions to reduce health inequities, and the science of knowledge translation, with a focus on enhancing the use of research in policy and practice. Nadine co-leads a number of research initiatives, including: the PreVAiL Research Network, VEGA: A Public Health Response to Family Violence, EQUIP: Research to Equip Primary Health Care for Equity and the Domestic Violence @ Work Network.

Meet CRHESI: Gerda Zonruiter

Gerda Zonruiter

Gerda Zonruiter has 15 years experience working as a social policy and planning researcher with the City of London. During her tenure she has provided research support for a range of portfolios, including homelessness, housing, poverty, social assistance and childcare. Prior to leaving the City to pursue freelance research and consulting work, Gerda was the co-chair of London’s Child and Youth Network’s, Income Security Working Group, working with community members to identify systemic issues of poverty; and recommending changes in the areas of social assistance, minimum wage and affordable housing. Well-versed in the issues of social inclusion, poverty and health equity, Gerda’s involvement with London’s Bridges Out of Poverty ❘ Circles initiative keeps her grounded in the everyday challenges associated with living with poverty.

“Towards a community where health and equity are realized by all”

Heather Lokko, from the Middlesex-London Health Unit, shared her perspective at the CRHESI launch. Here’s what she said:

We know that the health of individuals and communities is significantly influenced by complex interactions between social and economic factors, the physical environment, and individual behaviours and conditions. These factors – the determinants of health – play a key role in determining the health status of our population as a whole. We also know that health inequities – differences in health outcomes that are avoidable, unfair and systematically related to social inequality and disadvantage – do exist in our communities. In order to truly make a sustainable impact on the health of individuals, families, groups and communities we must:
(1) address the social determinants of health, and
(2) work to enhance health equity .
These are both fundamental to the work of public health in Ontario.

In 2011, the Sudbury District Health Unit shared 10 Promising Practices to Guide Local Public Health Practice to Reduce Social Inequities in Health. These promising practices have been very helpful for public health across the province. In 2013, the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health released a document to provide a framework for public health to better understand our role in enhancing health equity. This tool, Public Health Roles for Improving Health Equity, helps us set priorities and make decisions about how we assess needs, how we plan and implement programs, how we allocate our resources, and how partnerships are viewed and pursued.

Yet in spite of these, and other excellent resources, we still have much to learn about the impact of health inequities. More importantly, we need to know more about how we can effectively create greater health equity in our communities.

And by ‘we’, I don’t just mean public health. I mean all of us, together, different sectors, community members, anyone who is passionate about this. CRHESI is a very significant step for our community, as this Centre will enhance our understanding about what is going on and what we can do about it. Its focus on ensuring strong connections between academia and community are invaluable and, for me, very exciting as I consider the possibilities! I see a growing momentum in our community regarding the social determinants of health and health equity – this is wonderful, and I believe it is what we really need! Many great initiatives are underway. As each of these important pieces in the health equity puzzle take clearer shape and fit themselves together, we will move closer and closer to the picture that we all want to see: a community where health and equity are realized by all.

Heather Lokko is Chief Nursing Officer and Director, Healthy Start, at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. Heather has been a member of the CRHESI Steering Committee since discussions about the Centre began in late 2013. Ask Heather about all this, and African drums.