CBU Researchers Receive Funding for State of the Art Infrastructure

The Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT) recently announced that it will fund 12 projects across Nova Scotia that aim to improve the quality of life for Nova Scotians while building further capacity for innovation. Among the recipients are Cape Breton University’s Marcia Ostashewski, Assistant Professor, Ethnomusicology and Tier Two Canada Research Chair in Communities and Cultures and Ashlee Cunsolo Willox, Assistant Professor of Community Health and Tier Two Canada Research Chair in Determinants of Healthy Communities.

Both researchers will receive funding to improve infrastructure in support of their research with Ostashewski receiving close to $499,000 and Cunsolo Willox receiving $65,000.

“This is wonderful news for our researchers,” says Dale Keefe, Dean of Research and Graduate Studies. “This funding will allow CBU to build the proper and innovative spaces needed to keep our researchers in the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that facilitate the world-class work that they conduct here.” 

Ostashewski engages with diverse communities, with partners across sectors and scholars across disciplines, in innovative, creative music, dance, and digital humanities research that addresses concrete social problems. This research improves our understandings of music, dance and digital media – how we make them, and make them meaningful in our lives – and contributes to the well-being, strength, sustainability and prosperity of communities in Cape Breton and abroad.

“Music and dance are at the heart of our most profound experiences and, in Canada and globally, are tightly wound up with expressions and representations of identities, cultural policy, the distribution of funding, governance of communities and cultures, and more," says Ostashewski. “They are especially important in Cape Breton, famous for its music, dance and culture. The funding for this new Centre is a tremendous demonstration of – and real boon for – the exceptional work we are doing at Cape Breton University, together with artists, community partners and researchers locally and around the world!"

Dedicated to the collaborative, community-engaged research of Ostashewski as CRC in Communities and Cultures, funding will help build the Collaborative Music and Movement Laboratory (CoMM Lab), and will promote collaboration and community-based research on music, dance, performance and other media. The CoMM Lab is a world-class digital humanities research lab, and is the only research centre on the Canadian East Coast working on creative and critical digital, interactive multimedia research and applications.

The CoMM Lab will be used for community-based research and outreach programs, and the production of tangible research outcomes including audio visual materials such as CDs, DVDs, documentary films, performance pieces, born-digital materials as well as physical materials including publications. These materials will be used as content for interactive multimedia productions, including online. The CoMM Lab will also be used to host speakers, workshops, rehearsals, creative and recording sessions and performances. While the state-of-the art technologies of the CoMM Lab will also be portable, allowing work to be carried out in-community, locally and globally. The on-campus Lab location, which includes specially-designed performance floors and equipment as well as work stations and meeting facilities, will also serve as a collaborative work space for researchers, artist-practitioners, project groups and committees.

Cunsolo Willox’s research will strive to improve knowledge surrounding the causes of health disparities and develop strategies to decrease health inequities in many parts of the country, including Cape Breton and Atlantic Canada. Using community-engaged health research approaches and participatory digital media, this Chair will support and enhance the determinants of healthy communities in resource-dependent, rural and remote, and Indigenous populations.

“These funds will contribute to the development of the Centre for Community-Engaged Health Research at Cape Breton University, which aims to bring together health researchers, practitioners, students, policy makers, and community stakeholders to work together on complex health challenges,” says Cunsolo Willox. “Receiving funding for supporting this Centre is further recognition of Cape Breton University's reputation for being community-focused and dedicated to enhancing community health and wellness through research, outreach, collaborations, and knowledge mobilization.”

The funding will help build infrastructure at CBU to support collaborative, community-based, and multi-media health research. This includes the construction of offices for visiting researchers, a boardroom, work stations for student researchers, and a multi-media lab, including computers, digital cameras, digital video cameras, and editing and analysis software. This Centre will be the first of its kind in Canada, and is hoped to become a hub for community-engaged and participatory health research, producing high-calibre research, hosting workshops and conferences, creating multi-media knowledge translation pieces, and contributing to evidence-based decision-making and policy.

Funded by the Government of Nova Scotia, through Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, the Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust matches research funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation.  In the last 13 years, the Trust has supported 390 projects and attracted more than $100 million in additional investments in Nova Scotia research.