TCRC research supports development of Peterborough County’s Heritage Jail Park

Peterborough County’s new Heritage Jail Park was opened on September 20, 2017, and two TCRC students whose research supported the development of the park attended the opening ceremony.

Laura Schindel and Logan Taylor researched the history of the Peterborough County Jail for their community-based research project during the 2016/17 academic year. The County relied on Schindel’s and Taylor’s background research, and the two students wrote the eight interpretive panels that guide visitors through the park.

A digital guide to the history of the Peterborough County Jail was also developed, with Shindel and Taylor producing the content for the site.

“It was so amazing to see our research really come to life,” said Schindel. “We were so grateful for the opportunity to conduct community-based research and contribute to the history of the County.”

This project is part of a larger partnership between the Trent Community Research Centre and the County of Peterborough, which involves the TCRC developing research projects that serve the County’s interests, and supporting students as they complete them. “We are very proud of the partnership we have with both the Trent Community Research Centre and with Trent University,” a County spokesperson wrote on the new jail park website. To read more about the TCRC’s partnership with the County of Peterborough, click here.


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Celebrating an exceptional year of community-based research

TCRC students sharing their research projects at our annual Celebration of Community Research.

Over 75 students presented their community-based research projects to their peers, faculty, host organizations and other community members at our annual Celebration of Community Research on March 31, 2017. It was inspiring to see our students’ finished projects, and to learn about the potential their research has to make a positive impact in our community. Thanks and congratulations to all the participating students!

The Celebration was also a chance to give out our year-end awards to students who have done exceptional work in their community-based research projects. We were pleased to present the following awards:

Academic Achievement in a Community Setting Award

Awarded to the project that best demonstrates rigorous community-based research practices to produce results of particularly high academic merit. Sponsored by Professor Emeritus Dr. John Wadland.

FIRST PRIZE – Emily Amon (Sustainable Stormwater Management: Protecting Harper Creek Through Effective Policy & Priority Placement of Rain Gardens)

RUNNER UP – Mason Godden (History of a Student-Led Organization 1990 to 2017)

Emily Amon

Mason Godden

Community Impact Award

Presented to the project that shows clear engagement with community needs and interests, and illustrates the principles of a community-first approach to research work, creating the potential for significant impact within the community. Sponsored by CUPE Local 3908.

FIRST PRIZE – Callum Stanford (Analysis of Regional Situation Tables)

FIRST PRIZE – Ryne Evans & Brittany Reid (Evaluating the 2013-2014 Sex Worker Action Project in Peterborough)

RUNNER UP – Brieanna Elliot (Supporting Immigrant Entrepreneurs) 

Callum Stanford

Brittany Reid and Ryne Evans

Innovative Presentation Award

Presented to the student(s) who have demonstrated highly effective communication and presentation skills in the design of their poster. Judges looked for high standards of poster design and information presentation, effective and imaginative use of space, and communication of research process and results. Sponsored by the Workforce Development Board.

FIRST PRIZE – Skylar Onistchenko-Abrantes (Are Two Heads Better Than One? A Housing Network Evaluation)

RUNNER UP – Brieanna Elliot (Supporting Immigrant Entrepreneurs) 

Skylar Onistchenko-Abrantes (Right)

Brieanna Elliot

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Master’s student Maddy Macnab documents early history of the New Canadians Centre

Maddy Macnab, a Master’s candidate in the Canadian and Indigenous Studies program at Trent, has partnered with the New Canadians Centre to document the oral history of the organization’s founding and early days. Macnab’s project, arranged through the Trent Community Research Centre, will serve as her Master’s thesis.

The New Canadians Centre was founded in 1979 as a group of volunteers supporting Vietnamese refugees. The organization has since grown and now serves over 800 new Canadians every year, including many Syrian refugees, making Macnab’s research into the organization’s founding especially relevant.

The early history of the New Canadians Centre has never been formally documented, and so Macnab’s work will be indispensable in preserving this important story in Peterborough’s history.

“It has always been important to me to be engaged with the community where I’m living, and to put my energies back into that community,” Macnab says.

“Working for change with other folks in my community in various ways has always been a great source of positive energy and an amazing learning experience.”

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Upcoming Workshops

The Trent Community Research Centre is partnering with the Academic Skills Centre this February to deliver two workshops on how to present research results. See the full details about these workshops below.

Presenting Data & Creating Graphs & Figures
February 8, 2017, 3:00pm – 4:30 pm, Bata 201

In this workshop you will learn techniques to effectively present data to a variety of audiences. We will discuss different data types, common features of graphs and other figures, and the balance and integration of visuals and text. Register online.

Writing Reports
February 15, 2017, 3:00pm – 4:30pm, Bata 201

Successful research reports must be analytical, effectively organized, and clearly written to be meaningful for their intended particular audience. In this workshop, students will learn about various reporting conventions and structures, approaches for reporting and integrating evidence, and strategies for adapting writing style to meet the audience’s need. Throughout, students will appreciate the necessity of analysis, clarity, and specificity in all report writing. Students are encouraged to bring questions and share successful strategies for report writing. Register online.


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Helping youth voices to be heard

The Trent Community Research Centre is helping youth in Peterborough to get their voices heard. In November 2016, we paired two youth leaders with a graduate student mentor from Trent to develop a presentation on the needs of Peterborough’s youth for the Peterborough Youth Commission.

Kate and Evan preparing their presentation.

Kate and Evan, both members of the Peterborough Youth Council, had already collected significant data on what youth are saying about their needs in Peterborough. The TCRC connected them with Alexandra Ha, a Master’s candidate in Psychology at Trent, who volunteered to help them interpret the data and develop a presentation for the Peterborough Youth Commission.

“Kate and Evan had some super impressive data, especially for their age,” said Ha. “I helped them to interpret it, and present it to an audience. I wanted to mentor them, and help to expand their intellectual curiosity.”

By holding focus groups and conducting surveys, Kate and Evan found that youth in Peterborough are most commonly concerned about two key issues: transit accessibility and mental health support. They said transit costs and scheduling inefficiencies are a barrier to accessing activities and opportunities in the city, and that better mental health support is needed to address problems like drug use and depression among youth.

The presentation to the Youth Commission, which includes a city councillor as well as municipal and community leaders, was very well received, and the team hopes that it leads to a better understanding of youth needs in the community, and more dialogue between municipal leaders and youth.

Kate’s and Evan’s research “shows that students have the potential to make change,” Ha said. “It shows that youth are making a huge impact in this community, which is really motivating.”

“I’m proud of Evan and Kate,” Ha added.

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Emily Amon doing crucial watershed research in Harper Park

Fourth year Emily Amon is on track to complete her third community-based research project with us. This time, she’s studying the ecologically sensitive Harper Creek watershed. Amon is hopeful her work will influence City policy and raise awareness about the hazards facing the Creek. 

Driven by a passion for community-based research and environmental science, fourth-year Trent student Emily Amon returned to the TCRC in the fall of 2016 to pursue a third community-based research project with us. Her new project will examine the Harper Creek subwatershed to identify the areas that most need increased soil permeability in order to reduce the amount of sediments and other contaminants that run-off into the creek.

Amon is interested in community green spaces and water quality, so this was a natural project for her. Harper Creek is an ecologically sensitive part of Peterborough, she says, and with increasing urbanization in the area, including plans to build a casino, we need to understand the hazards facing the subwatershed.

Like many TCRC students, Amon appreciates the opportunity to study real problems facing her community. “I don’t see the point in answering questions that no one is asking, or that only academics are asking,” she says. “With community-based research I can come up with solutions to problems that we’re actually seeing.”

Amon’s research is part of a broader push by Peterborough GreenUp (who is hosting her project) to increase soil permeability in Peterborough by de-paving property and installing rain gardens. It’s something that’s on City Hall’s agenda as well, and Amon plans to present recommendations to the City about which areas to prioritize when she finishes her project.

Even now though, in the early stages of Amon’s research, she feels like her work is raising awareness. “There’s been a lot of public concern about the social problems presented by the casino, but I think my work has drawn more attention to the environmental concerns around it.”

Amon hopes her work will encourage people throughout Peterborough to consider building rain gardens on their property. “They’re something anyone can implement,” she says. And they make a big difference by absorbing rain water, which reduces flood risks and diverts contaminants away from streams, rivers, and lakes.

Amon plans to continue her community-focussed approach to environmental research after she graduates from Trent. “The only way to achieve environmental goals is to focus on the community where the problems are,” she says. “There are no one size fits all solutions. So community-based research seems more sustainable, and more likely to succeed.”

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Lang nears fundraising goal for agricultural barn

Federal funding was announced last week for Lang Pioneer Village Museum’s agricultural heritage barn, bringing the Museum close to its fundraising goal for the project. You can read more about the announcement here.

When the barn opens its doors in 2017, it will display antique farm implements and equipment that were catalogued, described, and researched as part of a TCRC project in Summer 2015.

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The project, completed by Matt Hayes and Justin Sutton, researched the history and impact of each item in the collection. This research will be invaluable as Lang produces the interpretive materials that will be displayed alongside the collection when the barn opens next year.

Agricultural equipment aripic-low-res-1

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Community-based research on the rise at Trent

September is always a busy month for us, as we match students to projects and kick off another year of community-based research. We are excited to announce that this year we are supporting 37 community-based research projects, with the potential for more projects to start in the winter term, making the 2016-17 year one of the most active years in the Centre’s history.

Our executive director, John Marris, expressed excitement about the research that is getting under way: “We matched a lot of strong, enthusiastic students to important projects for local organizations this year,” Marris said. “Carrying out these projects will be a rewarding educational experience for the students, and the results will have real, tangible benefits in the Peterborough community.”

Maddy MacNab, a Masters student in the Canadian Studies program at Trent, is one of four graduate students whose research is being supported by the TCRC this year. MacNab’s highly topical thesis is on the early history of the New Canadians Centre and its establishment in response to the needs of refugees from Vietnam.

The TCRC is also supporting three undergraduate students pursuing community-based research for their double-credit thesis courses. Vanessa Potvin is one of those students; she’ll be digitally mapping Peterborough’s natural areas on behalf of the Peterborough Field Naturalists.

“I’m especially glad to see that many students are returning to do a second community-based research project with us,” Marris added. “These students have recognized what a powerful learning experience community-based research is, and how rewarding it is to see your research make an impact in the community.”

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2015/2016 Annual Report

The Trent Community Research Centre has released its annual report for 2015/2016 (June 1 2015 – May 31 2016). You can read the report here.


In 2015/2016 the TCRC provided community-based research opportunities to over 100 students, many of whom say it has been the highlight of their academic career. The annual report captures these students’ enthusiasm, as well as the satisfaction of the over 20 community organizations the TCRC worked with.

One community host said: “The TCRC expands both our credibility and effectiveness. We’ll be in a better position to deliver our mission.”

The annual report includes feedback and reflections from students, community hosts, faculty, and more. It also includes updates on the TCRC’s administrative developments and other projects.


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Video: Trent Browett discusses his community-based research experience

Trent Browett, who has completed two projects with the Trent Community Research Centre, spoke about his experiences doing community-based research, and how they shaped his career goals, in this video.

“These experiences have by far been the most enriching experiences I’ve had during my undergraduate career,” Browett says in the video, adding that they have “particularly strengthened my research and critical thinking skills. When you go through theses projects you learn how to ask deep reflective questions. You learn how to craft a research project.”

Browett says that his community-based research projects have led him to new career goals. He is now pursuing a career in policy analysis and consulting, two passions he discovered while doing his TCRC projects.


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