The Vanier Institute’s Annual Report 2020–2021 is now available.
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December 13, 2021
As Canadians have continued to navigate constant change and transition over the past year, families have been a crucial source of stability, resilience and continuity. The pandemic continues to affect social, economic, cultural and environmental contexts that shape family life, and understanding these complex impacts is essential to building a safer, healthier, more sustainable and more inclusive Canada.
Throughout the year, we continued to explore diverse families and family experiences, facilitating and engaging in catalytic conversations on family well-being, and working with those who study, serve and support families.
Strengthening and mobilizing knowledge
We continued to share up-to-date research and insights through our articles, fact sheets, research summaries and in the media, which are available on our website. We also worked with partners and collaborators on a variety of external publications related to families, family experiences and family well-being:
- Working with Statistics Canada, Vanier team members co-authored Canadians’ Well-being in Year One of the Pandemic, a comprehensive report on the impacts of COVID-19 and public health measures on marginalized populations in Canada.
- We contributed a chapter on death and dying for a new textbook from Canadian Scholars, Promoting the Health of Older Adults: The Canadian Experience, in collaboration with Katherine Arnup, PhD.
- We co-produced the upcoming book Families, Mobility and Work, a capstone for the On the Move Partnership on employment-related mobility of families. The new publication synthesizes findings from research initiatives rooted in Atlantic Canada, as well as in the Canadian and selected international contexts.
Surveying families and those who support them, we continued to gather information on the impacts of the pandemic on families and on those who support them:
- In continued partnership with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and the Canadian Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (CAMFT), we conducted the second cycle of the Family Therapists Survey, which explored the impacts of the pandemic on the practice of therapists who work with couples, families and youth.
- Funded by the True Patriot Love Foundation, the Veteran Families Survey gathered insights about Veteran family health and well-being, family finances, social connections and networks of care, as well as their engagement in the community. This data will be used to inform the development of systems, services and supports to optimize the well-being of Veterans and their families.
- We conducted the Grand-families in PEI Survey, in partnership with the University of Prince Edward Island and Building GRAND-Families Inc., to increase our understanding of “grand-families” (grandparents raising grandchildren) in PEI, their well-being and experiences caring for their grandchildren, and their awareness of support programs in the province.
Working together, at a distance
The pandemic may have prevented in-person events for the year, but that didn’t keep the Institute from connecting and collaborating at virtual events and activities with our partners, collaborators and stakeholders:
- In collaboration with AGE-WELL and the University of Alberta, we co-hosted the webinar Experiences in Caregiving During COVID-19: What Have We Learned? on National Caregiver Day. Panellists shared their own lived experiences with family caregiving and the well-being of caregivers during the pandemic.
- With the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) and CF Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS), we co-hosted Military and Veteran Family Research: Setting the Stage for the Next Chapter, an online, interactive symposium in which researchers and service providers discussed lessons from the past decade, current collaborations and initiatives, and next possible steps.
- We partnered with Brock University’s Andrea Doucet, PhD, Canada’s Research Chair in Gender, Work, Care and Community, and over 30 other partners and 50 co-investigators and collaborators to work on a seven-year program focused on work–family, Reimagining Care/Work Policies: Towards Equitable, Inclusive Family Futures.
Celebrating achievements and contributions
All this was possible through strong teamwork that extends into our network of partners and friends:
- Grateful for the dedication and enthusiasm of our student volunteers, we awarded Liam Konrad, Kathya Aathavan, Alex Foster-Petrocco and Angel Poon with the 2020–2021 Award for Student Contributions to the Vanier Institute.
- We awarded Lynda Manser, a leading researcher on military families in Canada who has contributed greatly to our understanding, with the 2020–2021 Colonel Russell Mann Military and Veteran Family Health Research Award.
We could not do what we do without the talents, generosity, expertise, hearts and minds of a large and growing community of people and organizations that study, serve and support families and family well-being.
Thank you to all who gave their time and energy to support our mission. A special thank you to Nora Spinks, who spearheaded the Vanier team for 10 years as Chief Executive Officer. We thank Nora for her accomplishments over those years and for her contributions toward the well-being of families in Canada. Nora left the Vanier Institute in summer 2021 for other pursuits. We wish her all the best.
Understanding the present to support the future
As we write a new chapter with our strong network of partners, staff and friends, we are also planning for a couple of milestone anniversaries: the 30th anniversary of the International Year of the Family (IYF) in 2024 and the Vanier Institute’s 60th anniversary the following year.
As we continue to tell the stories behind the statistics, we will spark conversations with those who study, serve and support families. A clear, evidence-based understanding of families, in all their diversity and complexity, helps us build a supportive, inclusive, compassionate society for future generations. And as families evolve, so too will the Vanier Institute.