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As trainees in health services and policy research, we have conducted a large part of our academic studies during the pandemic. It’s fair to say that our identity as emerging scholars has been deeply shaped by the social dynamics and political decisions that have been made about the health and health system crisis that have been brought to the forefront alongside the COVID-19 pandemic. If one expression could capture the zeitgeist of the field of health services and policy research in the pandemic era, it would most certainly be “health equity”.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Student Working Group (SWG) of the Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR) – a pan-Canadian, trainee-run, voluntary group – has evolved into a community of practice that has offered an organic learning opportunity for diverse and multidisciplinary trainees. Through our monthly meetings, we realized that we all shared great expectations for health equity research and believed that there was an unmet need for strengths-based efforts to be introduced. Driven by the confidence that trainees could join existing leaders – several of whom act as mentors in our career paths – in moving the field of health services and policy research towards meaningful change, our team launched a new health equity initiative: Challenging the traditional views on research and applications of health equity: A seminar series. This seminar series was, to our knowledge, the first of its kind in how it focused on bringing trainees and experts across various fields of health services and policy research together to broaden one another’s understanding on the range and complexities of health inequities and the impact they have on different population groups in a strengths-based manner. Although each seminar was hosted by a notable expert in health equity research, this seminar series provided a platform for students, clinicians, patient partners, and researchers to collaboratively discuss relevant topics to challenge the misconceptions regarding the applications of health equity and the traditional manner as to which research is conducted. This involved learning and embracing a wide range of methodologies and ways of knowing from traditional Indigenous knowledge to art-based knowledge translation. Our seminar series grappled with issues pertaining to cultural safety, homelessness, patient participation, Indigenous health, and knowledge translation and reached over 300 trainees across Canada. We have recently published a commentary that describes how those seminars built on one another and how they sometimes took us to uncomfortable places.

The tremendous success of the seminar series has led up to seek opportunities to make this contribution long-lasting. We partnered with Healthy Populations Journal, a multi-faculty, student-led, open-access, peer-reviewed journal housed at the Healthy Populations Institute (HPI) at Dalhousie University, to develop a special issue on health equity which will be published in May 2023, with a launch at CAHSPR’s conference. We are inviting all to contribute to this special issue by submitting a contribution centering around underexplored topics of health equity in research and clinical practice and community involvement before January 31, 2023. We welcome all types of contributions in French, English or Indigenous languages, including comics, infographics, videos and apps to be accessed through QR codes, commentaries, and traditional research papers. We are also strongly encouraging the CAHSPR community to contribute to this endeavor by acting as peer-reviewers.

To act as peer-reviewer for the CAHSPR special issue of Healthy Populations Journal, write to

To submit a contribution to the special issue, go there: