SPHERU Stories

Supporting Community & Building Compassionate Future Leaders

A reflection by Colleen Christopherson-Cote.

Colleen Christopherson-Cote is the coordinator of the Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership (SPRP) and co-coordinator of the Safe Community Action Alliance (SCAA). She has most recently played a leadership role in the Interagency Response to COVID19, and has worked with other collaboratives including the SEYP.

One of the most important things about SPHERU, as a collaborative research body, is they provide opportunities, mentorship, leadership, and learning for students. 

It is a problem when a student graduates with a policy degree but has very little understanding or experience with a community that they might be writing policy for. 

When SPHERU hires students and then pairs those students with community partners to work on a research project that has meaning and reciprocity, those young policy-makers have this rich understanding and an allowance to learn in a different way than they would if they graduated with a policy degree and no practical experience. 

For example, my community works in a governance model that is not like any other governance model. Many non-profit and community organizations aren’t always the typical, colonial model of a community-based organization.

Understanding and experiencing how these pieces fit together in community is how real collaborative community work happens.

These opportunities and experiences that SPHERU provides for students is invaluable in the development of future workers and the health of our communities.

Learn more about the extensive network of partners that have brought SPHERU’s research to life for 20 years.

Partnership with community is a core tenet of SPHERU’s work. We do research with the community, not on a community. Community voice and community need informs our research at every step.