The COVID-19 pandemic – and associated public health measures – continue to have unprecedented impacts on all communities and regions (rural and urban) across Canada. Community leaders, researchers, and agents of change have mobilized around resiliency, creativity, and compassion to address the local implications of this global health crisis. The Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF) is dedicated to utilizing a rural lens to identify and respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in rural regions of Canada.
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CRRF was established in 1989 to contribute to the revitalization and sustainability of rural Canada through collaborative research for rural leaders in the community, private sector, and in all levels of government. CRRF works in partnership to create credible insights and to improve our understanding of issues and opportunities for rural residents across Canada. Knowledge and better understanding are the fundamental pillars for the welfare and sustainability of rural communities and environments and therefore, knowledge mobilization and translation are at the core of what we do at CRRF.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, CRRF quickly responded and mobilized a Rural and COVID-19 subcommittee. We designed the Rural Insights Series, a rural COVID-19 resources webpage, to document the impacts and responses in Canada and advocate for a rural lens applied to all good policy planning.
Insight into rural COVID-19 experience
The Rural Insight Series evolved from the need for a renewed focus on rural issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We put out a call for insight papers that would focus on specific issues, through a rural lens, to guide policy and best practices. In a very short time period, led by our astounding research assistant Ashleigh Weeden, we published 19 peer reviewed papers in the Rural Insight Series examining issues such as gender-based violence, food security, mental health, economic development, employment economies, long-term care, drinking water and much more. These papers provide a window into the impacts of COVID-19 on rural life. These papers have since fostered multi-disciplinary discussions and serve as a resource for rural researchers, practitioners, and policy makers.
These knowledge creation and mobilization efforts have continued through further collaborative research. With the support of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Engage Grant led by Dr. Heather Hall, the Rural Impacts, Responses & Recovery research project is examining the impacts of COVID-19 on rural communities across Canada and the responses needed for recovery. Working with extraordinary graduate students – Daniel de Prats Cid, Emma Stucke, Nana Ntim, and Camila Concha Bravo – the team posted over 30 rural innovation stories on CRRFs social media platforms (#COVID19rural). The CRRF COVID-19 Resources page now includes over 125 links to resources from across Canada and around the world. This team also completed a rural impacts scan for each province and territory in Canada and launched a survey with rural economic development practitioners across Canada to understand the impacts, responses, and recovery efforts needed for Rural Canada. This partnership has created a foundation for our fourth edition of the State of Rural Canada Report, to be published this fall, focusing on rural opportunities, resiliency, and recovery.
Additionally, the Journal of Rural and Community Development is hosting a special issue on the impacts of COVID-19 in rural Canada led by a dedicated group of CRRF members. This special issue will focus on a range of topics, providing an interdisciplinary and thought-provoking examination of these impacts. Importantly, this special collection will be open access and accessible to the public.
(Re)Building a brighter rural future
Over the last year, we at CRRF have heard challenging and uplifting stories from rural communities and regions across Canada on the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resiliency and strength of rural Canada and rural Canadians continues to be an integral part of the fabric of our nation. Rural communities and regions are critical to Canada’s economic and social prosperity and fostering conditions for a greater quality of life for us all. We would like to thank all CRRF members and those who have supported our initiatives over the past year. Without a strong and dedicated membership – none of this would be possible. For more information on CRRF’s ongoing work, or to become a member, visit www.crrf.ca/.
Dr. Kyle Rich (Chair, CRRF Conference and CO-Chair SORC4) (@krich052 on Twitter) is an assistant professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at Brock University, Ontario, Canada. His research looks at how community, policy, and social inclusion/exclusion shape experiences in sport, recreation, and physical activity programs, especially in rural and remote municipalities. Click here for more information.
Dr. Sarah Minnes (Past President, CRRF) (@sarah_minnes on Twitter) is a Postdoctoral Fellow and a Sessional Lecturer at the Conservation of Change Lab in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Geomatics at the University of Guelph. She holds a PhD from Memorial University of Newfoundland, a master’s degree in Rural Planning and Development from the University of Guelph, as well as an undergraduate degree in International Development from the University of Guelph.
Dr. Kathleen Kevany (President, CRRF) is an Associate Professor and Director of Rural Research Collaboration with Dalhousie University, Faculty of Agriculture. Dr. Kevany is the President (2020-2021) of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (CRRF), and on Strategic Planning Committee for the Canadian Food Studies Journal. In her book, Plant-based Diets for Succulence and Sustainability (2020), Kathleen and co-authors have produced the first book on systems analysis of plant-rich living.
Dr. Heather Hall (CRRF Member, CO-Chair SORC4, PI Rural Impacts, Responses and Recovery research project) is an Assistant Professor and the Academic Director of the Master of Economic Development and Innovation Program at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. She holds a PhD in Geography from Queen’s University (Canada), a MA in Planning from the University of Waterloo, and a BA in Geography from Laurentian University (Canada).
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