UWW Fellow Morgan Wadams: Examining the experience of people living with HIV and transitioning in and out of the correctional system

Written by Scott Montgomery, Alberta CBR Collaborative Practicum Student

Morgan Wadams is a PhD student and a Universities Without Walls Fellow at the University of Alberta. His doctoral dissertation is a narrative inquiry study examining the experiences of people living with HIV who are transitioning in and out of the correctional system.

Morgan’s interest in correctional system transitions developed as he completed health assessments for people being admitted to the Edmonton Remand Centre where he works as a registered nurse. He observed people with complex health issues, often coupled with social barriers such as poverty and discrimination, repeatedly admitted and discharged from the jail. His observations sparked a curiosity regarding the quality and consistency of care available to these people. Morgan became especially interested in the experiences of people living with HIV in this context, as many populations that are overrepresented in our prisons already face stigma and discrimination. Last year, in what Morgan describes as a “serendipitous moment” a professor asked if he would be interested in undertaking a project on these transitions. This set the wheels in motion, and his dissertation began to take shape.

The purpose of Morgan’s research is to identify the inequities faced by people living with HIV in the context of transitioning in and out of incarceration, but he also aspires to help create meaningful change at the community level. He hopes that his research will help create positive outcomes for this highly stigmatized population by meeting people where they are, and through building and maintaining relationships. To his work, Morgan brings a passion for meaningful engagement and affecting positive change in a way that recognizes not only ‘what’ supports are needed, but ‘how’ these function and ‘where’ they should be delivered.

Morgan’s commitment to meaningful engagement and relationship building are also the answer to questions he often encounters regarding the challenges of working with this population. His experience has taught him that awareness of one’s social location and privilege are essential for anyone working with a population to which they do not belong. He cautions that good intentions alone do not guarantee acceptance or willing participation. When especially difficult challenges arise, Morgan indicates that he never feels alone. His supervisory and advisory committees, along with the people he meets through his work are united in their common goal of creating meaningful relationships and change, and are always willing to help.

Contact Morgan for more information about his research: | (587) 985-5864
See Morgan’s bio on the UWW website.


The Calgary HIV Social Society: Building Social Capital through Social Gatherings for Persons Living with HIV

Written by Scott Montgomery, Alberta CBR Collaborative Practicum Student.

The Calgary HIV Social Society (CHSS) and researchers from Mount Royal University are partnering on a project designed to address the concerns of many Calgarians living with HIV regarding a gap in the social supports available to them. For the project, co-researchers will facilitate social gatherings (BBQs, theatre, etc…) that focus on building connectedness and creating social capacity to reduce the burden of stigma and isolation faced by people and communities impacted by HIV.  Using a participatory action research approach, co-researchers hope to learn about HIV community-led initiatives while building infrastructure to support social resources for communities affected by HIV.

Through conversations with their peers, the founders of CHSS realized that while there are supportive peer groups in Calgary for people living with HIV, events and gatherings that focus specifically on fun activities and socializing are limited. Safe spaces for people living with HIV to gather and support each other through shared challenges relating to living with HIV are a crucial piece of the community’s support system. However, the disease and stigma are often the focus of conversation and discussion in these settings. CHSS wants to create a new type of safe space for HIV positive Calgarians, expanding the support system beyond the negative aspects of living with HIV.

Through social gatherings, CHSS hopes to empower people to be themselves and have fun in an environment welcoming to all Calgarians living with HIV, where they do not have to worry about disclosing. In the future, CHSS hopes to be able to provide mentorship programs for young people living with HIV, and expand their social gatherings to include retreats and team building activities.

CHSS social gatherings will begin in July. Later this year, focus group discussions will explore the experiences of the participants and co-researchers who participate in and facilitate the events.


“The Calgary HIV Social Society’s mission is to provide support through socialization, friendship, community, and resources to those living with HIV in a stigma free, non-judgmental, and inclusive environment.” – CHSS Mission Statement


New Report Available: The Alberta CBR Regional Priority Consultation

To read the full report on the consultation, click here.

The CBR Collaborative held a regional consultation in March 2019 to better understand the current research priorities of people living with HIV and community agencies in Alberta. The consultation included three components: 1) an online pre-consultation survey, 2) a one-day stakeholder meeting, and 3) an online post-consultation survey. Participating stakeholders included independent community leaders living with HIV, representatives from community-based organizations, academic researchers, and an Alberta Health Services employee. While many priority areas were identified during the consultation, there was some consensus across stakeholder groups around the areas of:

  • Stigma and discrimination
  • Prevention (including issues related to PrEP)
  • Medical and nursing education or health service procedures
  • Knowledge synthesis
  • Access to testing

Stakeholders also brainstormed capacity-building initiatives needed in Alberta to support a responsive CBR agenda. Initiatives included:

  • Peer support and training
  • Funding for community-driven research
  • KTE conferences and program exchanges
  • Providing evidence to support program implementation in community-based organizations

These priorities serve as a road-map for developing future projects in the region, and the CBR Collaborative’s staff, infrastructure, and resources will support initiatives that align with identified community priorities. Click here to read the full report on the consultation.

This work was funded by REACH 2.0 and carried out with support from the Alberta Community Council on HIV. 


Key findings from the upcoming report on LGBT+ seniors’ housing in Calgary and surrounding areas

Written by Scott Montgomery, Alberta CBR Collaborative Practicum Student.

The SHARP Foundation in partnership with Rainbow Elders Calgary, Centre for Sexuality, Mount Royal University, and Habitus Consulting Collective have released key findings from their report on the housing needs of aging members of the LGBT+* community in Calgary and surrounding areas. The community-based research project was guided by an advisory committee, and peer researchers led community engagement, recruitment, and data collection.

The study surveyed 117 people 50 years or older, or people under 50 who were considering their housing needs as they age. Of the participants, the majority were between the ages of 55-64 (55.9%), and nearly one third were 65 years or older (29%).  The participants primarily identified as women (48%) or men (45%), with fewer participants identifying as  trans or non-binary (8%) or other (3%).** Most participants identified as gay (45%) or lesbian (36%), with smaller proportions identifying as straight (10%) or other (10%; bi, pansexual, asexual, questioning, no label).** A total of 15 interviews were conducted with various stakeholders including community members, professionals working with the LGBT+ community, advocates, and government representatives.

The study demonstrated that LGBT+ seniors living in Calgary and the surrounding area were concerned about facing discrimination and stigma from caregivers and other residents if required to move to seniors’ housing facilities. The study found these concerns were perpetuated by stories of seniors having to go ‘back in the closet’. Results also suggested that efforts to identify and include LGBT+ people must incorporate awareness to the intricacies of ‘openness’, safety, and previous trauma. Stakeholder interviews revealed that community members and service providers were prepared to act on these issues with the ultimate goal of cultivating inclusive communities that provide support for people to age safely in place. Dr. Brent Oliver and Floyd Visser of the SHARP Foundation visited Global News Calgary on May 7th, 2019 to talk about the project. Watch the clip below, and click HERE to learn more about the SHARP Foundation’s work.

Thank you to all team members for making this project possible, including Rocky Wallbaum, Catherine Robertson, Rowena Williams, Donna Thorsten, Floyd Visser, Diana Wark, Amanda Weightman, Lisa Elford, Natasha Hoehn, and Brent Oliver.


*This project chose to use LGBT+ rather than LGBTQ2S+ for reasons of generational appropriateness and accessibility. It was the caution of our Advisory Committee that ‘Queer’ may have negative historical connotations for the demographic of interest.

**Total > 100% as participants were able to select multiple options.


Welcome to Scott Montgomery: Alberta CBR Collaborative Practicum Student

Scott is a Social Work Diploma student at Mount Royal University. After completing high school in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario, Scott moved to Toronto to study Theatre at Ryerson University. On evenings and weekends he played bass in folk and country music bands to fund his education.  After ten years in the music and theatre business, he became interested in addiction and mental health as he observed many friends and colleagues struggle to cope with the stress of life in the limelight. Scott began volunteering at various social service agencies before moving to Calgary in 2012. Scott is currently employed as a Team Lead in the Detox program at Calgary Alpha House, as well as working for Calgary John Howard Society assisting federal parolees as they prepare to re-enter society. Professionally, he remains interested primarily in addictions, and issues affecting chronically homeless individuals suffering from drug and alcohol dependency. Scott also enjoys studying gender issues, and the role of masculinity in today’s society. He is very excited to be completing his practicum with REACH, and hopes to learn more about the role of front line social workers in fighting stigma and oppression as experienced by service users living with HIV/AIDS. Upon completion of his diploma, Scott plans on pursuing his BSW and MSW.


What do Alberta stakeholders view as the most important characteristics of community-based research?

On March 6, 2019, 23 community stakeholders gathered in Calgary to discuss community-based research (CBR) priorities and capacity-building needs in the province. Attendees included independent community leaders living with HIV, representatives from community-based organizations, researchers from Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary, and an Alberta Health Services employee.

To kick-off the meeting, attendees brainstormed what they viewed as the three most important characteristics of CBR. Attendees wrote down their ideas on sticky-notes and posted them on a flip chart, grouping their responses with similar ideas suggested by others. The image above is a word cloud generated from these groupings, where larger words indicate greater frequency than smaller words. Many stakeholders highlighted the importance of:

  • Engagement
  • Collaboration
  • Relationships
  • Equity
  • Addressing gaps in knowledge

These characteristics are consistent with the CBR Collaborative Centre’s ‘Principles of CBR’, which guide the initiatives undertaken by the centre and its regional teams. Hearing these principles echoed by Alberta stakeholders in the brainstorming activity served as a reminder to reflect on how we are supporting these ideas in our day-to-day work and in the Centre’s initiatives moving forward.

The March 6 consultation provided an opportunity to discuss many topics related to CBR in Alberta. Keep your eyes (and inboxes!) open for a full report on the consultation.


How Do We Measure Success? Developing Shared Outcome Tools for HIV Supportive Housing Services in Western Canada

A multi-province team spanning Western Canada has utilized a participatory program evaluation approach to develop shared outcome tools for HIV supportive housing programs. The team developed the tools to demonstrate how their programs improve not just the physical health of people living with HIV, but also their quality of life.

Baseline intake and follow-up tools were developed through a series of participatory workshops, interviews, and meetings that included frontline staff, clients, and the family members of service users. The aim of this process was to collaboratively build relevant outcome measures that were useful to services users and front-line staff, and were capable of demonstrating change over time among clients.

Led by Floyd Visser (The SHARP Foundation) and Dr. Cathy Worthington (University of Victoria), this project brought together service providers from across Western Canada. Service providers included Sanctum Group from Saskatoon, and McLaren Housing Society and the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation from Vancouver. Additional partners included Dr. Brent Oliver (Mount Royal University), Dr. Hart Krentz (Southern Alberta HIV/AIDS Clinic), Janice Duddy (Pacific AIDS Network), and an HIV positive peer.

In addition to developing useful tools, the collaborative nature of this project enhanced provider-provider relationships in Western Canada. The project facilitated opportunities for providers to learn from each other, and to work together in strengthening supportive housing programs for people living with HIV.

Read more about this project, and other REACH 2.0 initiatives here.


New Implementation Science Research Design Tool

The Centre for Implementation Science at King’s College London has recently developed the ImpRes Tool. Its purpose is to support research teams who are in the process of designing implementation research and work to implement evidence-based interventions into practice.See:


MB HIV Collective Impact Network April Symposium Great Success!

A Great Success!
The Symposium was an overwhelming success with over 95 people in attendance on April13. The purpose of the event was for knowledge exchange, idea generation and for network building. We had people from Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia as well as people from all over Manitoba!
We were pleased to have 18 posters including a quilt as a poster!
We particularly appreciated the many out-of-town presenters and participants who were able to attend.
Many thanks to all the helpers who made this happen: including volunteers, staff, students, & our Stewardship Team.
We will be preparing a report. Watch for it in our next Monthly e-news in June!


Researcher Workshop: Navigating the New HIV Funding Landscape

CAHR is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the Early- to Mid-Career level HIV Researcher Workshop, which will focus on Navigating the New HIV Funding Landscape. This workshop will aim to enable researchers to succeed in the new Canadian research funding schemes, provide strategies for developing successful grant proposals, and explore research funding alternatives.

This workshop – to be co-chaired by Drs. Bob Hogg (Simon Fraser University), Carol Strike (University of Toronto) and Curtis Cooper (University of Ottawa) – will be held in partnership with the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative Alliance Coordinating Office, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research.

Individuals wishing to attend the Early to Mid-Career level HIV Researcher Workshop must apply to the Canadian Association for HIV Research. Registration will be open to HIV researchers from all tracks who meet the following criteria:

Applicants must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant
  • Focus their area of research in HIV or HCV Co-Infection
  • Have an academic appointment or a position as an independent researcher at a hospital or other organization at the time of application

The following must be included in the application:

  • Letter of request indicating reasons for attending the Workshop (max 200 words)
  • A two page bio sketch, using NIH format. Please click here for link.

Event details are as follows:

Date: Sunday January 15 – Tuesday January 17. Sessions will run from Monday Morning to Tuesday Evening

Location: Buffalo Mountain Lodge, Banff, AB

Cost: Registration for the workshop is $200. This includes 3 nights’ accommodation at the Buffalo Mountain Lodge, all workshop materials, and food throughout the meeting. *Note that participants will be expected to cover their own travel costs to and from the meeting*

Please visit email for more information.

Apply Now! Application Deadline: Monday, November 21