ThinkSci Outreach Program wins a CAN Advocacy Award

The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is proud to announce its support of the ThinkSci Outreach Program with a 2023 CAN Advocacy and Outreach award.

The “ThinkSci Outreach Program” is a workshop-based initiative organized and led by undergraduate and graduate students, with the goal of immersing high school seniors and 1st year CÉGEP students into the world of neurophysiology. Its long term goal is to reach local, regional and national underrepresented student communities in Canada. Continue reading

CAN Outreach & Advocacy Award: The Peaceful Brain

The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is pleased to support the  “The Peaceful Brain, a celebration against hate, discrimination, and prejudice” series of events organized by the Convergence initiative. These events has also leveraged support from Heritage Canada, Brain Canada, the McGill University Health Centre Research Institute, Native Immigrant, Concordia University Centre for Creative Reuse.

The Convergence Initiative is an independent Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the knowledge of neuroscience and art and the Canadian Association for Neuroscience has been a long-time supporter of this initiative that promotes cross-talk between artists, neuroscientists and the public to further our understanding of how our brain works. Convergence has always favored the approach of two-way engagement, which promotes knowledge sharing between presenters and the public, and not simply one-way teaching.

The four events proposed in the current proposal aim to address a very important issue: How to combat hate, discrimination and prejudice. The approach used is to try to expose some of the unconscious biases and ideas that each of us carry, to understand how they happen in our brains, and more importantly, how we can overcome these.

By bringing together scientists, artists, and people from different cultural and social backgrounds, these events will lead to a better understanding of what happens in our brains when we interact with people that come from different backgrounds, who have different faiths and ways to view the world, with the objective of increasing our acceptance of these differences.

We are happy to provide our support for the Convergence initiative once again.

Visit the event webpage for full details:

CAN Advocacy award: Montreal Neurological Institute Open Outreach Program

CAN is proud to support the development of the Montreal Neurological Institute Open Outreach Program

Description of initiative

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s ‘Calls to Action’ #6-12 relate to removing barriers in education for Aboriginal youth and eliminating educational gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians. With this application, we propose to create the ‘TOSI Open Outreach Program’, a neuroscience-specific outreach program run out of the Montreal Neurological Institute. Its goal will be to engage with youth in remote northern communities and expose them to neuroscience education and research, with the long-term goal of attracting Indigenous students from such communities to enter neuroscience-related programs at the university level. The ‘TOSI Open Outreach Program’ would be led by a Principal Investigator based at the Montreal Neurological Institute – selected by the TOSI Grassroots Committee – who will partner with other McGill-, Quebec- and Canada-based groups, such as BrainReach North, McGill Indigenous Initiatives, and the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, to develop a Quebec-based strategy to increase neuroscience-related outreach activities in remote northern communities, and to ensure that such activities are designed in partnership with Indigenous leaders and communities to maximize impact and ensure sustainability. One of the current limitations in similar outreach initiatives is the difficulty in establishing local community contacts and maintaining previously established community contacts – thus a central thrust of this proposal is to establish and strengthen community connections to enable a sustainable outreach program. Finally, once the ‘TOSI Open Outreach Program’ is well established in remote northern communities, its scope could be expanded to provide outreach to other traditionally under-served communities.

Target audience / Outreach potential

Youth in remote northern communities in Quebec.

Main objective of event

The goals of this proposal are:
– Establishing the ‘TOSI Open Outreach Program’ at the Neuro, which would include:
– Formalizing the ‘Open Outreach Program’ within TOSI
– Defining a mandate for the ‘TOSI Open Outreach Program’
– Selecting a Chair to head the program
– Establishing a web presence on the Neuro website

Formalizing partnerships with stakeholders, including (but not limited to):

  • BrainReach North
  • McGill Indigenous Initiatives
  • Canadian Association for Neuroscience
  • Brain Canada
  • International Brain Research Organization (IBRO)

Developing an action plan that encompasses:

  • Establishing a network of educators and community leaders in northern communities.
  • Initiating a dialogue with educators and leaders in northern communities to develop an outreach plan that is designed with their needs and concerns in mind, and that ensures sustainability of the program.
  • Formalizing the outreach plan into specific deliverables, such as ‘online teaching materials’, ‘in-person interactive education events’, ‘meet a scientist events’, and ‘neuroscience fair events’.


– Dr. Stuart Trenholm (McGill, Montreal Neurological Institute)
– Dr. Arjun Krishnaswamy (McGill, Department of Physiology, yIBRO)

Scientific excellence / impact

We believe that this initiative will fill an important gap in current outreach activities targeted towards remote northern communities by focusing on establishing sustainable community connections, and we think that such an initiative would be a great boost for increasing EDI in neuroscience exposure and training in Canada for a historically under-served community.

Equity / Diversity / Inclusion

The proposed Open Outreach Program is an outreach event exclusively targeted at increasing neuroscience-related engagement with remote northern (largely Indigenous) communities in Quebec. Thus this proposal is a grassroots initiative to increase EDI in neuroscience training and exposure, with the long-term goal of increasing the number of Indigenous people who enter the field of neuroscience.

CAN advocacy award winner: Who can become a scientist?

CAN is proud to support the “Who can become a scientist?” workshop

Description of event

Who can become a scientist? is a workshop for a high school age audience. The workshop is approximately 1.5 hours and is currently in a virtual format. The program is led by a team of dedicated undergraduate and graduate volunteers, and pairs module-based education about equity diversity and inclusion issues in science along with audience-participation activities. The workshop begins with a ~25 min interactive introduction, that includes participants being asked to participate in a poll regarding their career interests and to draw or write a description of a scientist (not for sharing with the group just for their own reference). This is followed by a number of self and pair/small group reflection-type questions and then leads into 3 optional modules, titled:

  1. Getting inspired by role models: “If you can see it, you can be it!”
  2. Leveraging support from mentors
  3. Advocating for equity, diversity, and inclusion

Target audience / Outreach potential

The target audience is high school age students, but could be adapted to broaden the scope. We expect to reach between 50 and 200 high school age students in this first year.

Main objective of event

To promote the awareness and importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion in science.


The idea for the workshop was sparked by a discussion about equity, diversity and inclusion amongst members of the Swayne lab at the University of Victoria. Over the past year, the workshop has been developed by a collaborative group including members the Swayne lab, University of Victoria faculty members, and students at the University of Victoria together with the local chapter of Let’s Talk Science, with input and feedback from the University of Victoria Office of Equity and Human Rights.

Developers & Organizers:

Leigh Anne Swayne
Rebecca Candlish
Juan Sanchez-Arias
Emma van der Slagt
Afnan Juma
Dzifa Dordunoo
Jane Gair
Moussa Magassa
Elisa Gonçalves de Andrade
Simone St. Louis Anderson
Melissa Mills
Hannah Richards
Crystal Washington


Previous advocacy award winners

Learn about our 2020 winners:

September 15, 2020: CAN-ACN has revoked the 2020 Advocacy award that had been awarded to Roger Hudson and First Person Science, following an incident during which CAN-ACN’s values were not adhered to. A statement regarding this incident by former members of the group can be found here.

Learn about past winners: