The Engage team worked with our community partners in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver to launch three Community Engagement Committees. Here’s a brief update from our committees.
Montreal’s Community Engagement Committee (CEC) convened once again on January 26th, 2016. This meeting brought together members of the Montreal gbMSM communities, as well as representatives from various local AIDS service organizations (ASOs) and LGBT community groups. Organizations represented include REZO, COCQ-SIDA, AIDS Community Care Montreal, SIDA-Vie Laval, Maison Plein Coeur, the Montreal LGBT Youth Coalition, Club des Phoenix de Montréal and Arc-en-Ciel d’Afrique.
The members of Montreal’s CEC are from a variety of ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and are in an excellent position to report on the different realities among gbMSM communities, including non-normative identities, BDSM, substance use, sex work and immigration.
Input from the Montreal CEC was elicited on a wide array of subjects, from the content and format of the questionnaire, the translation of particular questions and their responses, the French-version of the study name that will be used for the Montreal, and the recruitment strategies needed to maximize the length of the Montreal RDS-recruitment chains.
Toronto’s Community Engagement Committee is comprised of 12 individuals from diverse corners of the city working to ensure that the project resonates with all who identify under the cis & trans gay, bi, queer umbrella. Our team includes: researchers, community based organization and clinic staff, Totally Outright graduates and other community members new to the research process who are eager to contribute. Inclusion and accessibility are two considerations that have been at the core of Toronto’s CEC discussions.
When we asked why the Toronto CEC members wanted to join the Engage project we heard:
“My academic background and lived experience mean that I have a first-hand understanding of many of the inequities faced by the LGBT communities in Toronto.”
“I think it is really important to reach out to those people not traditionally reached out to such as really marginalized people and voices in society.”
We are 2 meetings into our work and have completed both a review of the questionnaire and a community mapping exercise. During these meetings we continue to ask the question “How can we reduce barriers for community members looking to ‘engage’ with the study?” We’ve talked about physical space, outreach strategies, language accessibility, and support mechanisms. This dialogue is ongoing and will lend itself to the success of the project and our work with gbMSM more broadly. Here is more of what we have heard from CEC members:
“I think it’s important for us to ‘go to community’ – ‘forgetting’ that we are researchers.”
“We care about gay men’s health above and beyond the HIV prevention envelope.”
Unlike the newly created CECs in Montreal and Toronto, the Vancouver-arm of Engage has repurposed the existing Momentum Community Advisory Board (CAB) into a CEC that includes existing CAB members from community organizations such as Health Initiative for Men, Positive Living BC and YouthCO, as well as newly recruited community representatives.
The Vancouver CEC was the first group to pilot a newly created research capacity building course called “Critical Eye for the Queer Guy”. The course was developed by the Community Based Research Centre (CBRC), with support from Health Initiative for Men (HIM) and the Engage KTE committee. The course was well received and has since been delivered to the Toronto CEC. Next steps are to translate the course into French and develop a guidebook for others who may want to deliver it. This is part of the Engage commitment to research capacity building.
July 27th, 2016