Jane Finch partnership addressing historical research relationships with York

The Jane Finch Community Research Partnership (JFCRP) is a group of residents, stakeholders and non-profit organizations within the Jane and Finch area, with partners at York University, that works to address the historical research relationships that have existed and continue to exist between the Black Creek/Jane and Finch community and the University.

Through community leadership and consultations, the JFCRP seeks to better inform the processes and manner in which research and data collection activities impact the Jane and Finch neighbourhood and seeks to ensure the well-being of the community is at the forefront of research.

In a series of gatherings since 2016, the JFCRP has been developing “Principles for Conducting Research in Jane Finch” to shape and guide how researchers should conduct their work within the area. The group says this process prioritizes community’s perspective, knowledge and expertise, and addresses the ethical and respectful behaviours researchers should undertake. These principles can be used by researchers to improve their work and build meaningful research partnerships, and can be accessed on the JFCRP website.

“The JFCRP is exciting because it’s a cultivation of advocacy the community has been doing for more than four years,” said project lead Talisha Ramsaroop. “We’ve had so many conversations on how we can reclaim research and ensure it’s done is a way that meets our community’s expectations and now we finally have systems and policies in place to support this. I’m excited to see the rich, informed and diverse research that comes out of this new community developed process.”

JFCRP Symposium
JFCRP Symposium. Photo credit: Errol Young

The JFCRP is also creating the Jane Finch Collections, an extensive, open-access, easily discoverable database containing research about the community. The Collections will make research, reports, documents and other forms of published knowledge regarding Jane and Finch more readily accessible for community members. JFCRP members are connecting with local organizations to collaborate on the development of the Jane Finch Collections.

“The Jane Finch community is diverse, vibrant and constantly changing,” said Shon Williams, a research coordinator at the JFCRP and third-year Business and Society student at York University. “Thus, no one narrative, document or process can represent and speak for all residents and the community.”

According to members, the JFCRP is a response to the long and complex research history between York and the Jane and Finch neighbourhood, which they say has seen the community over-researched, over-analyzed, stigmatized and objectified.

“Within the context of the harm research, we want to ensure that researchers inside and outside the community can perform ethical and respectful research that highlights the perspective and experiences of residents,” Williams continued.

Innovation York’s Knowledge Mobilization unit has had a long-standing relationship with the JFCRP through the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre.

“Our work is focused on supporting collaborative research partnerships,” explained Krista Jensen, a knowledge mobilization officer at Innovation York who has been closely involved with the project. “Too often, research results are not shared with community members at the end of a research project in a meaningful way and we think the Principles document, the training modules and the Jane Finch Collections will help to create a more equitable relationship between researchers and Jane Finch community partners.”

Jensen says the JFCRP provides clear guidelines for researchers on how to work with the Jane Finch community in ways that benefit both the community and researchers, and ensures better access to research that has been done in the community.