Niagara 2022 Canada Games to be remembered as first ‘research Games’

When the decision was made for Niagara to host the Canada Summer Games and for Brock University to be a key partner, Tim Kenyon and Julie Stevens spotted a golden opportunity.

Kenyon, Brock’s Vice-President, Research, and Stevens, Special Advisor to the President — Canada Games, were among a group of people that envisioned the bold possibilities  — including a wealth of research opportunities — that a Brock-Canada Games partnership could bring to benefit the University, region and country.

Years of hard work and collective effort later, the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games will go down in history as being the first “research Games,” Kenyon said.

“The idea of a ‘research Games’ grew out of a conviction shared by many colleagues, including then-President Gervan Fearon, that the Canada Summer Games was going to be an extremely important moment for Brock and for Niagara,” he recalled. “I believe the deliberateness and the depth of Brock’s scholarly and experiential engagement with the Canada Games, from research projects to teaching and learning initiatives, are novel developments in the history of the Games.”

As Special Advisor, Stevens heads up the academic side of the Canada Games, overseeing three sub-committees: research, curricular and community engagement.

A woman and a man hold a painting with a female athlete holding a basketball.

Peter Vietgen (right), Associate Professor of Visual Arts Education in Brock University’s Teacher Education program, and Master of Education student Becca Marshall showcase some of the artwork created as part of a community art project Vietgen led with the support of a VPR Canada Games Research Grant. The painting on display, shown at Niagara Place during the Canada Summer Games, was created by a student from Eden High School in St. Catharines.

“We have identified specific goals and secured project funding to expand curricular and academic program development, initiate new research projects and foster enhanced community partnerships,” she said as planning was underway.

Stevens, Kenyon and others recognized that the Canada Games is not just a sport competition, but an event that is shaped by, and has impacts on, the economic, political, cultural and social life of the host community and beyond.

“The Games is a phenomenon that connects to multiple disciplines, such as art, culture, communication, marketing and sport,” Stevens said.

Such a holistic view opens up many possibilities for researchers and community members to collect data in a wide variety of areas.

These data can be used for research examining everything from community development to sport analytics to the development of artistic expression to recommendations for future Games.

“The Games are an invitation to research, scholarship, creativity and innovation in absolutely every discipline,” Kenyon said.

To encourage Brock researchers from across campus to pursue research exploring the many dimensions of the Canada Games, Kenyon created the VPR Canada Games Research Grants program.

Established in 2019, the program supported Brock researchers and scholars in all departments and Faculties with grants of up to $7,000 to undertake research or a creative activity in any discipline and on any topic that relates to the Canada Games.

Over the program’s three years, 28 researchers from six Brock Faculties received funding for 30 research projects totalling more than $198,000, with some outcomes already being realized (see accompanying infographic and list of research programs).

Kenyon said research arising out of the VPR Canada Games Research Grants program has “exceeded my most optimistic expectations,” noting their “creativity, impacts and the way so many of them include research mentorship and student research opportunities.”

“The knowledge and insights created by these projects will be felt in many fields and in the legacy of the Games themselves for many years to come, just as the experience of conducting them will inform the lives of students and the next generation of researchers,” he said.

Kenyon credited the Research Sub-Committee and the Office of Research Services for publicizing and facilitating the program and encouraging researchers to apply for the grant.

The 11-member sub-committee, headed by the Head of Library Systems and Technology Jonathan Younker, examines the ways faculty and students can leverage the Games for research purposes, and, in turn, provide Canada Games organizers with data that will help them in the future.

“Under Dr. Stevens’ leadership, the sub-committee was instrumental in structuring the grant: brainstorming what it looked like, the timing of announcements, the proposed grant amounts, the Research Showcase schedule and other details,” Younker said.

The sub-committee has scheduled a Canada Games Research Showcase, to be held Oct. 6, at which researchers are expected to present their projects’ preliminary or final results. More details on the event will be released in the near future.

VPR Canada Games Research Grants program recipients




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