Research and Practice in Canada

CoPEH-Canada identifies and develops strategies for long-term regional and institutional capacity to support ecosystem approaches to health, including complementary funding for diffusion, research, and exchange as well as training. The Community has enabled many initiatives, some of which are presented below.

Active research grants

CoPEH-Canada connections with successful team grants CIHR competition in Intersectoral Prevention Research


Two of the teams which made successful applications to CIHR’s competition for intersectoral prevention on health and environment involve direct collaborations with CoPEH-Canada. 

  • “The ECHO (Environment, Community, Health Observatory) Network: Strengthening intersectoral capacity to understand and respond to health impacts of resource development”, is co-led by Margot Parkes at UNBC and Sandra Allison at Northern Health in BC, along with a team from across Canada, including regional cases in British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick
  • A Shared Future: Achieving Strength, Health and Autonomy through renewable energy development for the future focuses on first nation's health and is co-lead by Heather Castleden at Queen's University, and a pan-Canadian team.

To find out more about intersectoral prevention research at the CoPEH-Canada, please read our summary on the subject. 

CIHR Team Grant : Impact of Gender on Knowledge Translation Interventions 

Members of the QAA node put in a successful application to the CIHR Team Grant : Impact of Gender on Knowledge Translation Interventions: Generating and passing on gender-conscious knowledge about equality, equity and occupational/environmental health. One of the case studies for a retrospective analysis will be in Environmental Health and the CoPEH-Canada course will serve as a reservoir for prospective studies. 

10 yr anniversary

10-year anniversary

2018 was CoPEH-Canada’s 10-year anniversary. We had several activities planned, including a social event prior to the CPHA conference in Montreal in May and a social event at EcoHealth 2018 in Cali, Colombia in August. 


Webalogue series

Launched in April of 2014, this series of dynamic webalogues aims to highlight the variety of ways in which a range of practitioners, professionals, policy-makers and community members are grappling with topical, current and complex issues emerging at the nexus of population health, ecosystem and society. The 90-minute (or 2 hour) sessions are participatory and focused on learning and sharing. Issues cut across disciplines, sectors, jurisdictions, species and geographical boundaries.

Networking events

CoPEH-Canada works to increase connections between people interested in ecosystem approaches to health. We have helped form or rely on existing forums to spread the word. 

  • EDGE: Ecological determinants group on education 
  • Founding member of EcoHealth Ontario
  • Webalogue series in Western node BC
  • Ecohealth & Watersheds work (links to NESH)
  • ‘Pilot training initiatives’ at Provincial Public Health Events
  • Almost yearly Canadian Public Health Agency conference activities (pre/post conference meetings or networking breakfasts)

Ecohealth publications

Each of our members has a rich corpus of writings on, or using, ecosystem approaches to health. For example we recently carried out a review of work conducted by our core members on Intersectoral Prevention Research (to see the review click here). What is profiled below is the work that we have conducted together on the field of Ecosystem Approaches to Health in Canada. Please see each individual’s professional page or their Research Gate profiles for a complete list of their publications.

Milestones in Canadian Population and Public Health research

Webb JC, Mergler D, Parkes MW et al. (2010) Tools for Thoughtful Action: The Role of Ecosystem Approaches to Health in Enhancing Public Health Canadian Journal of Public Health 101:439-441

In 2010, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and Canadian Public Health Association recognised Ecosystem approaches to health as a ‘Milestone in Canadian Population and Public Health research,’ in recognition of major contributions to addressing challenges at the interface of ecosystems, society and health in Canada and beyond.


Teaching Manual

In 2012, a teaching manual in ecosystem approaches to health was published by CoPEH-Canada. The manual is comprised of a series of seven modules (Health, Ecosystem Approaches to Health, Complexity, Social Networks, Gender & Sex, Participation & Research and Transversal Activities (Building a Case Study)) intended to support people in designing, developing and teaching their own ecohealth courses. An abridged Spanish version is available and our teaching manual page features each module paired with multimedia.


Special issue of VertiGo

In conjunction with the EcoHealth 2014 conference, the Québec-Acadie-Atlantique node of CoPEH-Canada worked toward the launch of a special number of the journal, VertiGo, to promote the ecosystem approaches to health in the francophone world.


Ecohealth as a field: Looking forward

Saint-Charles J, Webb J, Sanchez A, Mallee H, van Wendel de Joode B, Nguyen-Viet H (2014) EcoHealth 11:300-307

The results of a pre-conference workshop hosted by CoPEH-Canada at the EcoHealth 2012 conference, Kunming, China are described in a forum paper co-constructed with international colleagues and published in the journal EcoHealth in 2014. The paper presents qualitative data from focus groups on where the international community sees the field of ecohealth heading.


Connections for Health, Ecosystems and Society leading to Action and Change

Saint-Charles J, Surette C, Parkes M, Morrison K (2014) EcoHealth 11:279-280

This forum piece serves as an introduction to a special issue of the EcoHealth journal dedicated to the 5th Biennial Conference of the International Association for Ecology & Health, co-hosted by CoPEH-Canada and Cinbiose. It emphasizes the importance of relationships and connections in all the work we do to improve health, wellbeing and the environment. 


Strengthening collaborative capacity: experiences from a short, intensive field course on ecosystems, health and society

Parkes MW, Saint-Charles J, Cole DC, Gislason M, Hicks E, Le Bourdais C, et al. 2016. Higher Education Research & Development:1-16.

This quote-rich research article analyses three years (2008-2010) of student feedback on the CoPEH-Canada course. Findings highlight the importance of diversity (of background and language), relationships among students and the teaching team, and complexity in the teaching methods (reflecting the complexity of reality).

Evolution of capacity strengthening: insights from the Canadian Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health
Cole, D. C., M. W. Parkes, J. Saint-Charles, M. Gislason, K. McKellar and J. Webb (2018). Transformative Dialogues: Teaching & Learning Journal 11(2).

We describe a Community of Practice focused on capacity strengthening across higher education institutions in the complex field of ecosystem approaches to health. Incubated through the co-design of a Canada-wide intensive face-to-face course, the Community of Practice generated a teaching manual with flexible formats to extend our reach to other academic faculty and practitioners. We describe how the development of collaborations (process) has been dynamically linked with learning about ecosystem approaches to health (content domain) in ways congruent with the field’s complexity. We argue that cross-university, grounded Communities of Practice are particularly appropriate for transdisciplinary educational initiatives tackling the daunting socio-ecological problems, and the associated health and sustainability challenges, currently facing humanity.

Application of an evaluation framework for extra-organizational communities of practice: assessment and refinement
McKeller, K.A, J. Saint-Charles, W. Berta, R Cockerill,  D. C. Cole (2020). The Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation 35(2): 60-64.

The primary objective of this study was to assess the applicability of a multi-level, multiple value evaluation framework for extra-organizational CoPs. We conducted qualitative interviews with an extra-organizational CoP—the Canadian Community of Practice in Ecosystems Approaches to Health (CoPEH-Canada). Our findings showed that the evaluation framework was sufficiently comprehensive to capture values generated. Reflecting on our findings, we share challenges in its application and suggest revisions to the framework. We discuss limitations and strengths, evaluation research next steps, and the opportunities for future applications.

Ongoing work

A publication of our findings from our research with the Geste team is being drafted for publication. 


This meeting series brought together colleagues from research, practice and policy involved in ecohealth research and practice to discuss future directions for the field and concrete collaborations.