SPHERU Stories

It’s OK to be Off Track – It Means You’re Listening

A reflection by Dr. Sarah Oosman & Dr. Sylvia Abonyi.

Dr. Oosman & Dr. Abonyi’s research focuses on Aging Well in Place across the life course and Indigenous Population Health.

Having respect and a willingness to adapt are important in order to make sure the research remains relevant and meaningful to the communities we’re working with.

We have to make ourselves open and vulnerable and we have to carry humility. Relationships are everything. We don’t need to control everything and there can be uncertainty. As a community-engaged researcher, you have to push through the discomfort.

We always tell our students: it is ok for your research to move off-track.

If it does, it means you are adapting to the setting of your research and this is good! If we are doing research, but people aren’t living in a way that our research is structured or care is delivered, what good is the care or what good is the research?

To make research relevant, we must meet people where they are.

And that often changes from when the research is planned through the time it takes to do it. Sometimes that means you go ‘off-track’ of your original plan, but those adaptations are what brings research alive and ultimately makes it responsive and meaningful.

Learn more about SPHERU’s research program, led by Dr. Abonyi and Dr. Oosman, on healthy aging in rural Saskatchewan Métis Community.

This research program on healthy aging in rural Saskatchewan Métis Community is framed through two connected projects that consider aging well across the lifecourse. Wuskiwiy-tan! (Let’s Move) is focused on seniors and Ta-Nigahniwhak! (They Will Be Leaders) is focused on youth.