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June 15, 2021

Families Matter: A Partnership to Study, Serve and Support the Families of Military, Veterans and Public Safety Personnel

An SSHRC grant has been awarded to the Families Matter research group to focused on the families of military, Veterans and public safety personnel.

A multi-disciplinary project team dedicated to expediting research to practice, optimizing the health and well-being of the families of military, Veteran, and public safety personnel across Canada

Kingston, Ontario, June 15, 2021 – It is with great pleasure that the Families Matter Research Group of Queen’s University and the Vanier Institute of the Family, along with project partners the Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research (CIMVHR) and the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT), announce the receipt of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) partnership development grant – Families Matter – to activate a partnership to study, serve and support the families of military, Veteran and public safety personnel.

Over the next three years, the project team, co-led by Dr. Heidi Cramm of Queen’s University and Col. (Ret) Russell Mann of the Vanier Institute of the Family, will collaborate with a range of research, policy and front-line partners to develop required research and training infrastructure in Canada that will focus and accelerate family research with the lens of occupational risk and requirement.

This lens is vital, as the occupational risks and requirements of these careers can impact the entire family unit. Heightened job-related risks, prolonged absences and frequent relocation all impact family functioning, family experiences and family well-being. There are few family science programs dedicated to the systematic study of and with these families. Therefore, a priority of Families Matter will be to identify and prioritize the methods, theories and training needs for current and future family researchers to equip rapid response to research priorities and knowledge mobilization needs within, across and beyond the military, Veteran and public safety sectors. The partners will identify shared family research needs and priorities, and develop a convergent knowledge mobilization strategy.

Research does not always find its way into the hands of policy makers and practitioners in a timely, effective manner. The opportunity to create the partnership infrastructure to engage in deliberate, structured knowledge mobilization and family research training strategies is timely.

“This is a critically important initiative to develop and sustain informed research best practice to identify and prioritize methods, theories and training needs for current and future family researchers. This will equip them to rapidly respond to key research priorities in the future. We are delighted to see so many talented and committed organizations come together to develop a sustainable family research infrastructure,” says Dr. Heidi Cramm, Principal Investigator and Project Co-Director, Families Matter.

There is a critical societal and economic need to focus on families serving alongside the women and men working in our armed forces and public safety services. These important roles carry enduring and increased occupational risks and dynamic requirements to ensure the safety and security of our communities, here and abroad. Vanier Institute of the Family CEO Nora Spinks says, “Families Matter will set the conditions for a military, Veteran and public safety family research consortium that enhances our collective understanding and catalyzes knowledge activation through evidence-driven policies, programs and practice to optimize the well-being of military, Veteran and public safety families.”

Dr. David Pedlar, CIMVHR Scientific Director, adds, “Leveraging the expertise within our organizations, we will strengthen our ability to apply the methodological and resource expertise required to develop a research consortium that can tackle complex family dynamics and transform knowledge into accessible resources for policy and program developers. CIMVHR is pleased to be part of this challenging new initiative.”

“This is an important initiative for CIPSRT as we collectively work to mobilize research related to public safety personnel and their families. We are humbled to see so many organizations come together for the benefit and well-being of the families of military, Veterans and public safety personnel,” says Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton, CIPSRT Scientific Director.

About the Families Matter Project Team

The project team consists of committed partners from the Vanier Institute of the Family, CIMVHR and CIPSRT, with host Queen’s University. These partners represent national and international research and knowledge mobilization expertise. With intersecting, complementary and interdependent mandates, the project partners are at the forefront of knowledge mobilization relevant to families of MVPSP. We have assembled a talent cadre of researchers to tackle this challenge, including Dr. Heidi Cramm (Queen’s University), Col. (Ret) Russ Mann and Nora Spinks (Vanier Institute of the Family), Dr. Deborah Norris (Mount Saint Vincent University), Dr. Joy MacDermid (Western University), Dr. Alyson Mahar (University of Manitoba), Dr. Denise Dubois (Queen’s University), Dr. Nicola T. Fear (King’s College London), Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton (University of Regina, CIPSRT), Dr. Nick Jones (University of Regina, CIPSRT) and Dr. David Pedlar (CIMVHR).

About Queen’s University

Queen’s University has a long history of scholarship, discovery and innovation that has shaped our collective knowledge and helped address some of the world’s most pressing concerns. The university offers a comprehensive research-intensive environment with prominent strengths in physics, cancer research, geoengineering, data analytics, surveillance studies, art conservation and mental health research. Queen’s University is ranked first in Canada and fifth in the world in the 2021 Time Higher Education Impact Rankings to advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

About the Vanier Institute of the Family

The Vanier Institute of the Family is a national, independent, charitable organization dedicated to understanding the diversity and complexity of families and the reality of family life in Canada. The Institute connects those who study, serve and support families in Canada and offers access to a range of publications, research initiatives, presentations and social media content to enhance the national understanding of how families interact with, have an impact on and are affected by social, economic, environmental and cultural forces.


The Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) strives to be a leader in the mobilization of research supporting the mental health of public safety personnel (PSP), their leaders and their families. Its mandate includes establishing and maintaining a network of researchers, post-doctoral fellows and students working in the field of PSP mental health research. By bringing together the best minds in the field and promoting the development of new experts, CIPSRT can help expand the research on all aspects of mental health related to PSP and their families.


The Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) is an innovative organization that engages existing academic research resources and facilitates the development of new research, research capacity and effective knowledge translation. With a network of academic researchers from across Canada, it serves as a focal point for 43 Canadian universities who have agreed to work together in addressing the health research requirements of the Canadian military, Veterans and their families.