Motivate Canada receives 3 year grant to study positive youth development in Aboriginal communities

Release Date: June 28, 2012

The Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health (IAPH), and Health Canada – First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) are funding a three-year, $1 million CDN evaluation of Active Circle – a unique initiative developed by Motivate Canada that supports and mentors youth leaders in Aboriginal communities through sport, recreation and physical activity. Faculty and students from Queen’s, Ryerson and Nipissing universities, in partnership with Motivate Canada and Aboriginal communities, will work together to develop ways to evaluate Active Circle’s impact by using community centered, arts-based, and Indigenous research methods such as Sharing Circles, PhotoVoice and Anishnaabe Symbol-Based Reflection ( The hope is to gain understanding about how positive youth development programs like Active Circle influence youth and community-level health, development and capacity. The grant will also provide an opportunity for Aboriginal youth to share their experiences through artwork at a large Sharing Event at the conclusion of the research project.The study – Youth Driven Development in Aboriginal Communities: Impact Evaluation of the Active Circle Initiative – is co-led by Queen’s University researcher, Lucie Lévesque, who is a long-term member of the Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project; and by Lynn Lavallée, an Indigenous researcher from Ryerson University who specialises in Indigenous health and well-being and Indigenous research ethics and methods. Drs. Lévesque and Lavallée are joined by Dr. Brenda Bruner and Dr. Mark Bruner from the Schulich School of Education at Nipissing University. Dr. Brenda Bruner’s is a health promotion and physical activity researcher, while Dr. Mark Bruner, specialises in positive youth development and group dynamics. Katharine Hare, Program Manager of the Active Circle, will act as project liaison to Active Circle communities and help facilitate the evaluation activities. The project will be guided by a Governing Circle comprised of members of various Aboriginal communities from across Canada, staff from Motivate Canada, and members of the research team. Governing Circle member, Gloria Ranger, describes her hopes for the project:

“Historically, research had been done on aboriginal communities without the inclusion of the people that are being researched. With the approach that the Active Circle project has taken, it is my hope that the research team will utilize the expertise of the community to gain insight and understanding with the evidence the research provides. This research project will help to find out what it is that keeps youth engaged and participating in sport and recreation in the community, to tell us what is working and where we can invest wisely, to help broaden the participation levels for all communities and to increase the quality of the existing recreation programs. I hope the project will also help to facilitate the relationship between our communities and the mainstream sport/recreation agencies.”

About Active Circle: The Active Circle is an innovative initiative by Motivate Canada in partnership with the Aboriginal Sport Circle that was developed in response to challenges faced by Aboriginal youth and communities in regard to sport and recreational programming. The Active Circle offers a streamlined process for Aboriginal communities to access resources for sport, recreation, and physical activity. Through a start-up grant from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, and with additional funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and Health Canada, the Active Circle has engaged approximately 5,000 youth (ages 8-18 years) and expects to engage an additional 6,000 youth from urban, remote and reserve communities in meaningful community physical activity, sport, and recreation programs. To learn more about Motivate Canada and the Active Circle initiative, please visit: and

Media Contacts:

Active Circle: Katharine Hare, [email protected]; tel: (613) 789-3333 ext.227


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