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.