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3 Questions with Adam Arca, CCBR’s New Research Intern

CCBR welcomes interns, placement students and volunteers to contribute to our work and learn practical skills in community-based research. Involving interns, student placements, and volunteers demonstrates CCBR’s commitment to education and mentorship – providing valuable learning experiences for people who have an interest in and desire to learn about community-based research. Of course, we learn just as much interns as they learn from us. Adam joined the CCBR team in June 2023. Read more about Adam, his larger career interests, and his work at CCBR below.

Tell us about yourself. What led you to want to do a research internship with CCBR?

Photo of Adam Arca- Research Intern
Adam Arca- Research Intern

Hi! I’m Adam (he/him) and I’m a research intern at the Centre for Community Based Research (CCBR) for the summer! I recently graduated from the Health Sciences program at McMaster University and will be starting my first year in the Master of Public Health program at the University of British Columbia in the fall.

What I have always loved so much about community-based research (CBR) having been involved in it and minoring in community engagement during my undergrad, is how truly grassroots it is. CRBs embodies the notion of “meeting people where they’re at” through investing and believing in the knowledge that community members hold to solve issues in ways that are relevant and sustainable to them. So, when I first heard of CCBR it really sparked my interest to join something that was not only a field that I was familiar with, but one that I truly believed in and wanted to pursue past my graduation. Although, what really made me gravitate towards CCBR specifically was the focus on projects that serve equity-deserving groups and advocate for social change from a municipal to national level. Most of my research interests and experiences so far have been within the realm of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the health sector, particularly with queer and other marginalized folk, so CCBR seemed like a great fit in terms of future goals, diversifying and developing my skills, having real-world impact, and being part of a community of practice.

Share 1 or 2 projects that you're working on at CCBR that excite you.

I think all the projects that I’m working on right now at CCBR excite me in different ways! One of them that particularly interests me is “Re-thinking How We Support Heritage in the Waterloo Region,” which is a project that actively engages with members of underrepresented groups such as 2SLGBTQIA+ and Indigenous folk to see what is happening, what is needed, and how they would like to be engaged in terms of the preservation and promotion of their heritage in the Region. I think it’s so fascinating to be able to be part of something so wide in scope, and that has direct implications on the historical narrative of communities that have long been predominantly viewed through the lens of White and cis-heteronormative structures.

Another project that I’m really enjoying right now is about dismantling HIV stigma where I’m working on collecting resources and content for the development of educational materials that will go on to support the creation of HIV stigma positive actions/interventions. The biggest highlight for me in terms of this project is particularly how supportive and engaging the team is. I can feel that they want me to be involved, they value my input, and the want to see me be successful and grow, which is all I can really ask for when it comes to a project team.

What would be your dream community-based research project?

This is something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot because I want to do a PhD in the future! If I was to go with one of the bigger ideas I have it would probably be something related to queer migration. I have a passion for queer theory and examining identity, place, and community for queer folks, especially for Asian and other BIPOC groups within Canada where migration and multiple intersecting identities complicate integration and belonging into the broader community. I also have a more practical interest in pushing for structural change through statistics because a lot of the times politicians and those with power will listen to numbers rather than lived experiences. So, something I’d been thinking of in terms of a CBR project is a kind of a mixed-methods study on queer migration into and around Canada that uses quantitative methods along with a qualitative community-based participatory approach to examine both numerical patterns and trends, as well as reflections and stories of community members. Ultimately, I hope through dissemination and knowledge mobilization this would have the potential to effect immigration policy and resource allocation, question the status of queer people in rural areas and in hostile conditions, and empower us to examine the processes of border-making, colonization, capitalism, and globalization.

Other ideas that I have been developing are about queer aging and what the life course and access to social services and institutions look like for queer and trans BIPOC communities as they age, as well as the erasure of queer elders and ageism within queer communities. I’m also interested in what a national community-based needs assessment for queer health would look and how we can use our social potential for mutual aid and collective action to improve public health mobilization efforts during health crises.


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