About SIL

What we do

The Social Innovation Lab on Gender and Sexuality (SIL) is made up of students, community partners, and scholars in gender and sexualities studies, community-based participatory research (CBPR), human rights law, and social justice. SIL is a community-university “laboratory” that brings communities and individuals together to collaborate on intersectional projects. The academic team members take responsibility for training and supervision, while community organizations lead and determine the scope, timelines, and goals of the projects.

SIL amplifies the resiliencies of gender and sexually diverse communities, including their tremendous creativity and capacity for innovation. SIL’s inter-sectoral approach explores social, cultural, legal, and political topics, supporting outcomes such as policy development around trans rights, advocating for access to comprehensive healthcare for gender affirming surgeries, evaluating queer youth housing initiatives, among many other projects.

Our Vision

Community-led research and impact through robust, collaborative, and innovative community partnerships.


Our Goals

1. To transform the landscape of community-based research to centre the needs, interests, and objectives of community partners.
2. To increase the breadth, depth and profile of intersectional research projects that focus on gender & sexuality as they intersect with race, ability, age, income, cultural context and other key factors.

The SIL Project Framework

The SIL project has three key focus areas within the larger theme of gender and sexuality:  

1. 1. Advocating for access to justice and human rights initiatives
2. Building intersectional practice and policies for Two Spirit and Indigenous queer people
3. Transforming services and care

Read more about the project framework here

Our Activities

1. Community-led Research Activities

Community organizations identify and propose research, evaluation, and policy-based activities in line with their unique needs. These organizations are then matched with students and faculty supervisors who will carry out the agreed-upon activities and provide requested resources to the community organizations.

2. Student Mentorship and Training

Students form the “heart” of the lab, conducting the bulk of data collection and analysis, and building meaningful and lasting relationships with community partners. The lab provides students with mentorship, formal training, and experiential learning in community-driven research and gender and sexuality-based analysis.

3. Advancing Social Change

Legal, policy, and practice efforts will move the dial forward on projects related to gender and sexual diversity. Collaborations with community partners will enable the development of evidence-based recommendations to organizations, institutions, and all levels of governments.

4. Comprehensive Knowledge Mobilization

The Social Innovation Lab (SIL) creates accessible and usable research outputs such as workshops, policy briefs, infographics, evaluation templates, advocacy letters, and other applied products.

5. Building a Blueprint for Future Initiatives

SIL includes an external developmental evaluation strategy which will assess, test, and engage with student and community research activities at all points. This process will ensure that we are able to adapt and change throughout the project and that we can build a blueprint for future community-led research models.