Project aimed at improving well-being of Black children and youth in Canada receives federal funding

Bukola Salami’s research program focuses on improving the health of Black
Bukola Salami’s research program focuses on improving the health of Black and racialized people. Stang Photography
Researchers Bukola Salami, Jack Lucas and Sheri Madigan to collaborate with public, not-for-profit and international research sectors

A national project focused on improving the well-being of Black children and youth in Canada has received funding from the Government of Canada. 

The University of Calgary project is led by Bukola Salami , PhD, working with a network of 40 co-investigators and collaborators from 20 partner institutions, encompassing the academic, policy, community, and service sectors across Canada.

Government of Canada funding

On May 29, 2024, François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry , announced funding for partnered research projects across Canada. Three UCalgary projects received a SSHRC Partnership Grant (PDG) of $2.5 million per project. These partnerships involve close collaboration with the public, private or not-for-profit sectors, as well as international researchers.

Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research) at the University of Calgary, underscores the importance of these partnerships: "These partnered research programs are not just about academic advancement - they represent our commitment to tackling complex societal issues that create impact in our communities. This $7.5-million investment will enable us to power our collaborative work with public, private and not-for-profit sectors, as well as international researchers, in a meaningful way." 

Salami’s project focuses on four priority areas: experiences in the justice system, education system, child welfare system, and settlement/integration. Evidence shows that Black children and youth are over-represented in the criminal justice and child welfare systems and have low secondary and post-secondary school completion rates. According to Salami, anti-Black racism, gender and class barriers, and poor cultural understanding by service providers and policy-makers contribute to these poor outcomes.

"Partnerships are crucial for this project due to the complex issues that Black children and youths face. Tackling these multifaceted issues requires national interdisciplinary and intersectoral partners," says Salami, a professor in the Cumming School of Medicine and the project director. 

"Our team is working with and capitalizing on the strengths of Black communities as fruitful actors in improving child social and educational outcomes. We are partnering with policy-makers, including Justice Canada, The City of Calgary, as well as Women and Gender Equality Canada, to enhance policy responsiveness and the mobilization of knowledge to policy."

The network will conduct the first comprehensive national survey exclusively focused on Black children and youth in Canada - with a goal of creating 5,000 data points. They will also work with community co-ordinators to support the implementation and evaluation of community-led interventions and solutions led by community partners. 

The project has strong training component from high school to postgraduate level, including a summer institute for Black early-career researchers. Outcomes will include the development of a knowledge hub, a Black youth hub, policy forums, media-enhanced speaker series, and communities of practice.

UCalgary’s SSHRC Partnership Grant recipients

Dr. Jack Lucas, PhD, professor, Political Science, Faculty of Arts 

The Canadian Municipal Barometer

Dr. Sheri Madigan, PhD, professor, Psychology, Faculty of Arts,
SSHRC Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Child Development,
Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Owerko Centre, Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education

The International Consortium for Research on Enhancing Attachment in Children through Training, Education, and Dissemination

Dr. Bukola Salami, PhD, professor, Cumming School of Medicine, scientific director, EDI, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, O’Brien Institute for Public Health, One Child Every Child Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Lead

Transforming the Lives of Black Child and Youths in Canada