The Jane Finch Community Research Partnership (JFCRP) was established in 2016 through collaborative engagement between members of the Jane Finch community and York University faculty and librarians. Academic research and journalism about Jane Finch have often stigmatized the community, emphasizing needs rather than assets while ignoring community members’ agency, creativity, and activism. Extractive research without recognition, compensation or even sharing of research results with community participants leaves local organizations and individuals unable to influence or make use of those results. Researchers and research assistants are often unaware of basic information about the community which could prevent harmful and wasteful missteps
A SSHRC-funded project is attempting to address these problems by supporting the development of the JFCRP’s research ethics approval procedures, including proposal review by community members; creating online education modules for researchers about the Jane Finch community and the importance of participatory research processes, as a potential small revenue stream to sustain the JFCRP’s work; and building an open-access collection of research about Jane Finch that is accessible to community members (not behind an academic paywall).
The proposal and approach were developed through long-standing partnerships among Jane Finch organizations including the Jane Finch Community and Family Centre, York faculty members and librarians, and the Toronto Public Library. Additional supporting organizations include the Black Creek Community Farm, Black Creek Community Health Centre, the York University - TD Community Engagement Centre and York’s Knowledge Mobilization Unit. The project is co-led by Jane Finch community members Talisha Ramsaroop and Abena Offeh-Gyimah, and employs local residents to build the research collection, website, and training modules and to spread the word about the JFCRP and its work. Its Community Research Coordinators are Farwa Arshad, Shenali Don, and Shon Williams (all local residents and York University students). The team has made several presentations about the JFCRP in classes and seminars at York and hosted a range of workshops and meetings within the Jane Finch community. The 2019-2021 SSHRC grant, entitled “Ethical, accessible research data management for the Jane Finch Community,” was submitted by Professor Ellie Perkins, EUC, and includes as participants Farid Partovi of the Jane Finch Community and Family Centre, Professors Natalie Coulter and Lorna Erwin, LA&PS, York University librarian Maura Matesic, and Jessica Rovito of the Toronto Public Library. York University librarians Andrea Kosavic, Dany Savard, and archivist Anna St. Onge worked with community members on building the open-access Jane Finch Research Collection.
In April 2020 the project launched the JFCRP’s website, JaneFinchResearch.ca, including a statement of principles for conducting research in Jane Finch which has been in development for several years. The Principles Document is a guide to support and strengthen research relationships between academic institutions, researchers, students, community members, residents, and organizations in the Jane-Finch community. The principles summarize expectations regarding respectful and ethical behaviour by researchers who work in the community to ensure that all research on or involving members from the Jane Finch community gives respect to the community and to community members’ perspectives, knowledge, and values.
Over the past year, the team has worked with various community partners to develop eight online training modules (to be posted soon on the JFCRP website). The training modules provide a background framework for researchers and build on the community’s principles document to create a holistic understanding of how to undertake research processes in the Jane-Finch community, increasing local connections for researchers as well as their sense of the Jane Finch community’s richness. The JFCRP’s initiatives are open to all researchers, not just those from York University. Ultimately, the goal is to help knowledge production about the Jane Finch community become more participatory, inclusive, accurate, diverse, and equitable, with results that are available to all.