Social Justice and Community Collaboration

an interdisciplinary virtual symposium

Social Justice and Community Collaboration an interdisciplinary virtual symposium hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences, Brock University Sept. 28 noon to 2 p.m.

Social Justice and Community Collaboration showcased some affiliates of the Social Justice Research Institute (SJRI) representing several disciplines. Researchers shared updates on their community collaboration research projects that have been funded by the SJRI.

Watch a video of this event.

Click here to view the event agenda.

Click on the titles below to reveal presenter information, abstracts, and links to additional resources related to the featured projects.

Presenters and Presentations

Andrea Doucet (Sociology; Women’s and Gender Studies) with Eva Jewell (Department of Sociology, X University); Jessica Falk (MA Student Research Assistant)

We discuss the ways Indigenous Friendship Centres support urban Indigenous communities as safe havens and sites of cultural resurgence. We also reflect on the unique aspects of our research partnership, which we call a ‘community-university relationship’. Our successful partnership is guided by three principles. First, the partnership is community-led, with material benefits first for the community. Second, our partnership maintains a levelled approach, which uplifts community knowledge, and does not hold hierarchies of knowledge or knowledge making practices. And third, our research is situated in multiple ways; we have maintained honesty and reflexivity about the power dynamics in the relationship, and the research is responsive to the locations of Indigenous community, territory, geography (in our case, Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe, and international border communities). Our research is guided by methodological and onto-epistemological processes that combine the team’s experience with Indigenous methodologies and onto-epistemologies, community-based research, and feminist ecological approaches to knowledge making and narrative analysis.

Visit Professor Doucet’s faculty pages: Sociology or Women’s and Gender Studies

View a PDF of this presentation LINK

Additional Resources:

The Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre

Brock University-Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre Collaboration, Government report: Indigenous Employment Engagement in Niagara: Social Knowing, discrimination, and the importance of Indigenous resources

Scholarly Article: Social Knowing, Mental Health, and the Importance of Indigenous Resources: A Case Study of Indigenous Employment Engagement in Southwestern Ontario 

Andrea Doucet’s SSHRC Partnership Grant Project: Reimagining Care/Work Policies: Towards Equitable, Inclusive Family Futures 

Sherri Vansickle (Tecumseh Centre for Aboriginal Research and Education) with Margot Francis (Associate Professor, Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies; Department of Sociology)

The presentation discusses an eight week workshop we led in Brantford, ON,(2018) with the artist, Shelley Niro (Mohawk), that provided a safer space for young Indigenous women to discuss the relationship between body and land sovereignty through the medium of photography. We will expand on Niro’s reflections about this project. She says: “I see this project as an opportunity to teach young Haudenosaunee women to explore how to use the visual codes of photography to articulate their own perspectives on sexual and political autonomy. Overall I want to make space so that Indigenous women can make their own reality and don’t have to stereotype themselves as they think others want to see them. I hope we can provide a context for young women to create visual narratives that are subtle, funny, and may also have serious political implications.”

VISIT Sherri Vansickle’s CONTACT PAGE

Sherri teaches the Introduction to Indigenous Studies course in the Faculty of Education at Brock University, as well as courses on Indigenous Traditions, and Indigenous Spirituality.

Visit Dr. Francis’s FACULTY PAGE

Margot teaches Indigenous Cultural Production and Activism (WGST/ 3Q90) and Indigenous Social and Political Thought (SOCI 4P76) at Brock University.

View a PDF of this presentation LINK

Additional Resources:

Gana’Jôh: Haudenosaunee Pedagogies of the Drum Letters From the Woodshop (2018), Margot Francis & Sherri Vansickle LINK

“Bending the Light” toward Survivance: Anishinaabec-Led Youth Theater on Residential Schools (2015), Margot Francis LINK

David Butz (Geography and Tourism Studies) with Nancy Cook (Professor, Department of Sociology)

This presentation describes a collaboration we established with the Shimshal Nature Trust in Northern Pakistan to assemble an archive of locally-produced photographs and accompanying narratives, and to publish a portion of that archive as a book with text in English, Urdu and Wakhi. We also discuss our long term collaborative relationship with Shimshal community, and some of the challenges and potentialities of transcultural and transcontinental collaborations. The purpose of the photographic archive is to convey the significance of a newly constructed road for the inhabitants of Shimshal. The purpose of the book, which is geared primarily to a local audience, is to promote Wakhi as a written language of research and scholarship. Until recently Wakhi has not had a written form; local intellectuals and social activists think establishing it as a language of literacy is important for the sustenance of Wakhi culture, as well as for the decolonization of knowledge about the Wakhi culture area.

Visit Professor Butz’s FACULTY PAGE

Visit Professor Cook’s FACULTY PAGE

View a PDF of this presentation LINK


2016-2021: Road Construction, Mobility & Social Change in a Wakhi Village (Available open access in digital form from the Brock Digital Repository at

Joanne Crawford (Nursing)

Feeling a sense of belonging and connection the community is an important part of the transition period for immigrant women upon arrival and beyond the first 3 years during the adaptation period. Unfortunately, immigrant women report economic, linguistic, and social barriers to participation, and in turn, social exclusion. To address this issue, a community-based partnership emerged with Tools of Empowerment for Success Niagara, which resulted in a long-term relationship and a 3-phase project. The SJRI Community Engagement Grant supported phase 1, a critical review; and phase 2, which is in progress. We are seeking to explore social exclusion/inclusion experiences of immigrant women and community service providers in Niagara. This funding helped us to leverage other funding opportunities and expand collaborations. For phase 3, we will synthesize knowledge generated to identify culturally relevant strategies to support development or enhancement of immigrant services with the engagement of new intersectoral partners in Niagara.

Visit Dr. Crawford’s faculty page

View a PDF of this presentation LINK

Diane Collier (Educational Studies) with Melissa McKinney-Lepp (educator, DSBN); Simranjeet Kaur (PhD student, Brock); Zachary Rondinelli (PhD student, Brock)

As part of an ongoing collaboration between Diane Collier (Brock) and Melissa McKinney-Lepp (DSBN), we engaged in a critical literacies project about family cultures and traditions. Melissa, working with her Grade 2/3 class, inquired about important cultural objects, taught photographic methods and perspectives, and created a context of collaboration. Diane with Zach and Simran (PhD students) visited the classroom virtually and built relationships, and generated visual, video, and artifactual data. There were many levels of collaboration in the project—within the classroom, with families, with the school community, and with a virtual audience. The work will culminate with a photographic art show at the Niagara Falls History Museum in Fall 2021. The research and the teaching intend to shift conventional roles and power relationships (between teacher/student, between researcher/participant), and have children make decisions about their own learning. The children’s sharing intends to contribute to greater community understanding of diverse cultures.

Visit Dr. Collier’s faculty page

View a PDF of this presentation LINK

About the series

Hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences, this series aims to showcase the variety of work being conducted by faculty and student researchers across Brock University, to uncover an array of perspectives, and to foster potential synergies and collaborations.

Cross-disciplinary and cross-Faculty participation is encouraged.

Learn how to participate in this Symposium Series.