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Social Policy Evaluation Collaborative Team Research at Universities in Manitoba

A photograph focused on one table people. There are notebooks and a laptop and they are having a discussion 

A photograph focused on one table people. There are notebooks and a laptop and they are having a discussion 

Welcome to SPECTRUM – a partnership between community, academia and government aimed at solving complex social policy challenges through social policy research and evaluation.


Public policies guide the development and administration of social services and systems that support a fair and just society. These services include the public education system, the justice system, family services, social housing and income supports. However, social services are often designed and implemented in a 'siloed' manner and coordination across departments, sectors and organizations is sorely lacking. Further, because of data and resource constraints, social services and systems are rarely evaluated to ensure they meet the needs of the people for whom they are intended. In many cases, they fail to address the needs of individuals, families and communities, resulting in poor outcomes and wasted resources across multiple areas.

Partnership Approach:
SPECTRUM uses an equity-focused, decolonizing and anti-oppressive lens and a participatory action, multi-method research approach to centre the voices of our partners and the communities they serve. We value relationships and the grounded knowledge and experiences our partners bring to the research. Since 2019, we have been meeting regularly at partnership engagement and capacity building workshops, through which we have developed a process for brainstorming new research ideas and selecting projects to pursue. Partners play an active role in the research in smaller working groups. Our first research project compares the outcomes of children in out-of-home care vs children receiving protection services while remaining at home. The research is guided by an advisory circle of stakeholders and people with lived/living experience to ensure the findings will support advocacy and efforts. Having built considerable policy capacity in the partnership, SPECTRUM's public policy strategists are now working with partners on policy implementation based on the evidence generated. The result of SPECTRUM's innovative approach will be stronger public policies supported by a network of academic and community experts that decision-makers can draw on, ensuring that social services reach their intended recipients and provide the expected benefits.


SPECTRUM Welcomes Two New Core Team Members

We are excited to welcome Elizabeth (Liz) Decaire and Stephanie Sinclair from the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM) to the SPECTRUM Core Team!

Stephanie Sinclair standing at a podium in front of a Traditional quilt

Stephanie Sinclair

Stephanie Sinclair is an Anishinaabe woman from Sandy Bay First Nation. She is a mother of two children and the daughter of a residential school survivor. Stephanie works at the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba as the lead for Data Sovereignty. Stephanie is also completing her Ph.D. in Native Studies at the University of Manitoba. Stephanie has worked in various positions over the last 20 years with the goal of improving health and mental wellness services for First Nations people. Her most recent research looked at the impact of Indigenous birth helpers (doulas) in the 'Supporting the Trajectories of our Spirit' Research Project.

Liz Decaire is a member of Cross Lake First Nation, in Treaty 5 Territory currently residing just outside of Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is a graduate of the University of Manitoba and is a 3rd generation First Nation Registered Nurse, providing nursing services in remote and isolated First Nation communities across Manitoba. Primary care settings, public health and program services has been a passion for Liz since she could remember. She is currently the Nurse Program Advisor for the Strengthening Families-Maternal Child Health program in First Nation communities and had previously been the Peer Support Specialist for the program for 9 years at First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba. Liz remains committed to serving Indigenous communities in Manitoba.

The First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM) works with the 63 Assembly of Manitoba Chief member First Nations in Manitoba to increase their opportunities to participate in the planning & development of a Unified Health System in Manitoba, influence regional and national health policy, and improve systems and program development across various health topics.

Liz and Stephanie presented on FNHSSM’s research and programs at the November 2021 SPECTRUM Workshop. They covered the need to integrate Traditional knowledge into research, storytelling through data, and the work of Wiijii’idiwag Ikwewag, a program designed to establish birthing circles of Indigenous women and families to re-establish the sacred bond between mothers and their babies. Additionally, they shared about the Strengthening Families Maternal Child Health (SF-MCH) program, that trains and builds capacity in families and communities on topics related to maternal and child health.
Both Liz and Stephanie bring their expertise in health and social development for First Nations in Manitoba rooted in peoples’ inherent right to health services that are culturally appropriate, holistic, and community-based. The SPECTRUM Core team is grateful for their expertise and look forward to closely collaborating with FNHSSM to advance the goals of SPECTRUM.

SPECTRUM Welcomes A New Student Fellow

Jessica Duris

Jess is currently a third-year Ph.D. student in the Applied Behaviour Analysis Program at the University of Manitoba. Her academic journey has been marked by diverse laboratory experiences, ranging from her time in the Embodied Cognition Lab and Health Psychology Lab to her work in the Northern BC Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Lab. This diverse exposure speaks to her eagerness to continually expand her research skills repertoire and approach complex problems from various angles.
Prior to joining the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy as a research assistant, she was involved in several community-based research initiatives. After graduating with a B.Sc. in Psychology, she joined a collaborative research project between the University of Northern B.C. and the Nak'azdli Health Center in Fort St. James, British Columbia. In her role, she had the privilege of leading a digital storytelling workshop series aimed at bridging the intergenerational gap between First Nations youth and elders. She was also involved in two research projects that directly influenced policy and service decisions for local healthcare providers, specifically Northern Health in Prince George, BC, and St. Amant in Winnipeg, MB.

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