What is GEEC Research?

Who are we?

We’re GEEC, the Greater Equity in Early Education and Care: Child, Family, and Community Engaged Research team. We are a research collaborative working with community partners to promote equity in learning and care for children through child, family, and community engaged research.

From left to right: Natalie Cummins (Research Project Manager), Walaa Alchetachi, Krissy Bemister (Research Project Manager), Dr. Sejal Patel, Jacqueline Chan, Miad Ranjbar, and Katherine Benvenuto.

A little background

The GEEC Research team has a number of ongoing research projects with the overall goal of enhancing equity in education and care for children and families. For example, the project School redesign and neighbourhood redevelopment: A longitudinal study of educational success and well-being  investigates how an innovative school redesign initiative affected children in a historically marginalized neighbourhood in downtown Toronto that is simultaneously undergoing a neighbourhood redevelopment. The Reducing inequities in children’s educational success and family well-being in marginalized communities through innovation in public education project investigates how the comprehensive, multi-pronged, system focused, and holistic Model Schools for Inner Cities initiative works and how it contributes to sustainable improvements in children’s educational success and child and family well-being in marginalized communities. Among others, these research projects aim to work with families, communities, and relevant sector stakeholders to study efforts to level the playing field for all children and families, with an aim to contribute to scholarly and public discourse.

Our research approach

Our team works in collaboration with partners from the not-for-profit sector, the community and the government. Our projects use qualitative (e.g., explanatory case studies), quantitative, and mixed-method methodological approaches (e.g., concept mapping.) Through engagement practices such as our Research Advisory Committees, community members and research partners are welcomed to share their thoughts and opinions on our research projects and set the direction for next steps.

What’s coming next?

GEEC Research group is focused on bringing more information about our research projects on our blog. Click into the homepage to read more about our team and the work we’re doing.

Follow GEEC Research on Twitter and Instagram for more updates.

Dr. Sejal Patel (middle), with our partners Dr. Patricia O’Campo, professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, and Toronto District School Board Research Coordinator, Maria Yau.

Reflections from the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s learning, inequities and speaking up against injustice

Posted on August 13, 2021 by Prof. Sejal Patel

It is hard to believe that it has been almost one and a half years since the initial shutdown in Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am thinking of children and families who have been experiencing the stress of the pandemic, including challenges with virtual schooling and isolation. During this time, many have lost loved ones due to the pandemic or other reasons, and have had to find new ways of coping with loss due to the circumstances. What we have also seen as a society is how the pandemic is exacerbating existing inequities in profound ways.

During this time, Canada was also confronted with its devastating history and continued systemic discrimination. 

I am thinking of and mourning the horrific discovery of the remains of children at residential schools across Canada. As a child of newcomers who was educated in Canada, I feel we need to do better at teaching about the truths of our horrific Canadian history and ongoing impacts of colonialism, and we need to continue to learn from Indigenous communities as we work towards dismantling Anti-Indigenous racism, and move towards Truth and Reconciliation. 

I am thinking of the horrific acts of anti-Black racism and victims of police violence here and abroad. I am committed to learning from members of the Black community and stand in solidarity against anti-Black racism. 

I am thinking of the hate crime in London, Ontario against a family of five that was the horrific result of Islamophobia. I am thinking of horrific acts of anti-Asian racism during the pandemic. I am thinking of rising incidents of anti-semitism and religion or belief discrimination. I am deeply and personally committed to dismantling racism, along with discrimination of all forms. I am also thinking of diverse LGBTQ2S+ communities, standing in solidarity against violence and in a spirit of acceptance.

As we think of ways forward, I think of a young 3-year-old child whom I witnessed walking alone towards a major busy intersection, and an elderly neighbour who helped walk her back to her home where her parents were busy working from home with their two young children. I think of a community in mourning at the loss of two special young children and the way that family and friends are trying to come together. I think of families finding new ways to juggle, cope and thrive. I think of students who have persevered in their studies.  I think of educators, teachers and professors committed to equity, diversity and inclusion trying to take steps towards curriculum change.

While there is much work to be done and a long road ahead in making systemic and structural changes, I believe that we can make great strides if we come together. It does take “a village” and we all need to support one another, working together to continue forward in a good way. 

— Sejal Patel, Ph.D.