About Us

AVA is about creating the capacity to transform population (community) health and social services to promote health and wellness of girls, women, and gender-diverse people at risk/affected by violence and adversity over the life-cycle, via a collaborative, innovative, cross-sectoral/disciplinary/jurisdictional training platform.

AVA stands to help reduce family violence (gendered) and improve Canada’s UNICEF rankings for girls’ health and wellness, with positive lifespan, intergenerational and population impacts.

We are one out of the thirteen Health Research Training Platforms (HRTP) funded by the CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH). Read more about this here.


In 1989, a gunman shocked the nation when he murdered 14 young women and wounded 14 more at École Polytéchnique de Montreal because they were women.1 After that, the Canadian Government made a $3 million investment through the Ministry of Health to address the public policy, education, legislation and applied research on violence against women and children. In 1991, this resulted in the development of five sister centres2 of excellence in research and education on violence against women, and more broadly, gender-based violence. Over the intervening 30 years, these centres have conducted more than 400 studies, many employing community-based research methods, raised nearly $50 million dollars in research funding and trained nearly 2,000 scholars in gender-based violence that have seeded institutions across Canada and the globe. On the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Alliance, we seek to further the Alliance’s important work by taking our training to the next transformational level with AVA.

Our Objectives

  1. Strengthen and build capacity to transform population (community) health and social services to promote the health and wellness of girls, women, and gender-diverse people, at risk/affected by violence and adversity over the lifecycle
  2. Use a collaborative, innovative, cross-sectoral/disciplinary/ jurisdictional training platform to train hundred of Canadian service providers and academics in the social services/community health field working with this population ​
  3. Make intergenerational and population impacts, and promote a positive lifespan for girls, women, and gender-diverse people​

Why is AVA needed?

For nearly 30 years, preventing and addressing violence against girls and women has been a policy priority across Canada, yet this social problem persists with family violence rates increasing and girls’, women’s, and gender-diverse people’s health and wellness outcomes worsening​.

  • To provide enhanced training to address barriers to reducing gendered violence and early childhood adversity​
  • To provide enhanced, community-engaged training to enable better use of evidence-based interventions and innovations for girls, women, and gender- diverse people affected by gendered violence and early childhood adversity​
  • To engage community to break down silos and barriers of inequity ​

Why it Matters

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are considered “toxic” to children’s health and development, given their consistent links to lifespan poor outcomes, such as mental illness.3-5 The consequences of ACEs create significant costs for individuals, health and social services and society. Individuals lose productive, healthy years of life and increase their use of services for health conditions that could be prevented or mitigated.6-8 AVA delivers enhanced training focused on gendered ACEs and violence that will address these risks to reduce them.

Community agencies are critical to any solution to the problem of violence against girls and
women. However, not-for-profit (NFP) community agencies are often unable to systematically test and evaluate, let alone embed, much-needed evidence-based social innovations and interventions in their programming due to persistent funding constraints, strained human resources and limited research expertise, which in turn undermines implementation and sustainability.9-11 AVA’s enhanced, community-engaged training will enable better use of evidence-based interventions and innovations for girls and women affected by violence and ACEs.

We also lack a national cadre of community and academic researchers trained to break down barriers and undertake transformative strategic planning, management and evaluation to address ACEs and violence against women and girls. Community partner engagement is foundational to AVA and will serve to break down in-group/out-group barriers which channel inequity.

Our Plan to Address the Gaps in Research Training

Implementation Science

Conduct collaborative Implementation Science training (especially community-based research) .


Trainees learn to develop, test, implement, scale/spread evidence-based innovations and interventions (e.g. social solutions) ​

Work across Barriers & Silos

Work across barriers and silos to conduct cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral, and cross-jurisdictional research training​

Strategic Planning

Learn and undertake transformative strategic planning, management and evaluation for multi-level (e.g. service to system) changes ​​

Fill the Gaps

Fill the identified gaps via training to address early adversity and especially family violence, in a collaborative, innovative, barrier-breaking and transformative program to develop national capacity ​

Anticipated Outcomes

By transforming population health and social services research training to promote the health and wellness of girls, women, and gender-diverse people ​at risk/affected by violence and adversity over the life-cycle, we hope to:​

  1. Reduce adverse childhood experiences, especially gendered violence​
  2. Promote life-cycle & intergenerational health and wellness​
  3. More support for families​
  4. Develop, deliver, test and integrate innovations across sectors​
  5. Reduce health, economic, and social costs​

  1. Four young men were also injured in the rampage. The all-female homicide victims included 12 engineering students, one nursing student and one clerk in the financial department.

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