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Media Advisory

LU professor receives $1 million research award to address poverty and homelessness in northern Ontario communities

February 24, 2010

Sudbury (Ontario) - A Laurentian University social work professor, Dr. Carol Kauppi, was awarded $1 million by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to address poverty, homelessness and migration issues in northern Ontario.

This Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) project will bring together a variety of partners: First Nations, First Nations service organisations, municipalities, health organisations and universities. Dr. Kauppi heads a team composed of twelve professors from Laurentian University as well as professors from the University of Sudbury, Nipissing University, Université de Hearst and the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Gary Kinsman, associate director of the Centre for Research in Social Justice and Policy (CRSJP), and Dr. Henri Pallard, director of the International Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Law (ICIRL), are key members of the research team who will assist Dr. Kauppi in managing the project.

Partners are Aboriginal Community Advocates and N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre from Sudbury, Timmins Native Friendship Centre, Moosonee Native Friendship Centre, Ininew Friendship Centre and Ga Beh Shoo In Aboriginal Men’s Shelter in Cochrane, Good Samaritan Inn in Timmins, James Bay General Hospital, Sudbury and District Health Unit, CMHA Sudbury, Centre de sant√© communautaire de Sudbury, the towns of Timmins and Smooth Rock Falls, and three First Nations in the western James Bay region – Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Moose Cree.

Mobilizing communities and developing practices and programs to address poverty, homelessness and migration issues in northern Ontario are key goals for this team of researchers. The five-year project will examine the underlying causes of poverty, poor housing, homelessness, and out-migration in northern Ontario to gain knowledge on these issues, understand their impact on northern Ontario, and give communities the tools they need to ensure that the most basic human needs of their citizens are met.

“Many individuals and families in the north do not have access to adequate housing, community infrastructure or job opportunities. They often move to bigger cities, hoping to create better lives for themselves, but struggle and lose the very few resources they have,” said Carol Kauppi, director of the project. “Moving towards social and economic prosperity in northern¬†Ontario¬†requires paying attention to those issues. By working in and with the communities, we hope to find and implement solutions based on the collective wisdom of the local people.”

The project partners will use traditional and innovative research methods in the communities, including design charrette, an intensive, hands-on workshop that bring people from different disciplines and backgrounds together to explore design options for housing within a particular area or site. The goal of the charrette process is to capture the vision, values, and ideas of the community while professional designers and architects sketch-out in real-time the visions expressed by the participants. Community members will also be given cameras and recorders to capture their environment through the use of photo-voice and digital story-telling techniques.

CURA grants, among the largest offered by SSHRC, support joint research projects between postsecondary institutions and community-based organizations.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Carol Kauppi, at (705) 675-1151, ext. 5058 or ckauppi@laurentian.ca.

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