Supporting the Promotion of Activated Research and Knowledge (SPARK) Training Workshop

Location | History | Keynote speaker bio | FAQs

The SPARK Training Workshop is an initiative created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) to help participants learn techniques for moving evidence-informed research and knowledge from the fields of mental health, substance use and addictions more quickly into practice.

SPARK brings together dozens of participants within Canada for two and a half days of training with internationally respected knowledge translation professionals, followed by ongoing mentoring in groups. Ideally, participants come from diverse areas of mental health and different geographic locations within Canada.

In 2014, the SPARK training will begin with a two-and-a-half day in-person workshop in Winnipeg, Manitoba from the evening of June 10 to late afternoon of June 12, 2014. The title of this year’s workshop is Making the Connection: Moving Knowledge to Action. We are honoured that internationally-recognized knowledge translation expert Dr. Melanie Barwick will be our keynote speaker.

The deadline for applying to the workshop is Friday, February 28, 2014, at 5:00 PM ET. Apply now

For more information, please contact:
Liz Wigfull

Join the conversation on Twitter: #mhccSPARK



Inn at the Forks

The Inn at the Forks is a luxurious hotel oasis of relaxation wonderfully located at The Forks, a National Historic site. This Winnipeg, Manitoba hotel and spa features modern style and commitment to service in a spectacular natural setting. The hotel features natural slate floors in the main lobby, glass vanities in the suite washrooms, heated floors, and a water wall in the spa.

The city of Winnipeg

Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba. The name "Winnipeg" originates from the native word meaning muddy—or cloudy—waters. Winnipeg is the seventh-largest municipality in Canada, and is home to more than half of Manitoba's population.

Winnipeg has been described as the "cultural cradle of Canada" and offers an array of talented artists, significant architecture, award-winning musicians and athletes, and legendary festivals and cultural events.

The province of Manitoba

Manitoba has a largely continental climate, with thousands of lakes and many rivers. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy. Other major industries include transportation, manufacturing, mining, forestry, energy, and tourism. The word "Manitoba" comes from the native word manitou, meaning “spirit”.



The SPARK Training Workshop began with the inaugural two-day event taking place in St. John’s, Newfoundland on July 11-12, 2012. It included a keynote speech from internationally recognized knowledge exchange expert, Jonathan Lomas. The inaugural SPARK Institute accepted 40 participants from eight different provinces and one territory. They represented a cross-section of sectors including researchers, practitioners and policy/decision makers and represented diverse backgrounds, including Seniors Mental Health, Primary Mental Health Care, Peer Support, School-based Mental Health, Stigma, Substance Use, Mental Health Promotion, Workforce Mental Health, Veterans Mental Health, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Mental Health.

The second SPARK Training workshop took place in Victoria, British Columbia from July 10-12, 2013. It was opened by Elder John Elliott and emceed by Greg Frankson a.k.a Ritallin who shared some of his inspiring poetry with the group. Dr. John Lavis, Canada Research Chair in Knowledge Transfer and Exchange at McMaster University, delivered an engaging and informative keynote speech on knowledge transfer in the area of social policy: What Do We Know About Sharing Knowledge.

The participant group included 39 people from across Canada representing different sectors in mental health and addictions. Participants were divided into mentor-led groups of six or seven people. All mentors were previous SPARK participants as well as professionals working in knowledge translation in mental health or substance use in such organizations as the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the University of British Columbia, the Adams Lake Indian Band, and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The workshop has been followed up with continued coaching from the mentors as participants have honed their plans and started implementing them. 


Keynote Speaker

Melanie Barwick, Ph.D., C.Psych. is a Registered Psychologist and Senior Associate Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. She is Scientific Director of Knowledge Translation in the Child Health Evaluative Sciences program. Her program of research in implementation science and knowledge translation explores empirically supported approaches, measures and tools to support the implementation of evidence-based practices in mental health, education, health, and global health contexts (

Dr. Barwick holds appointments as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. She also leads a technical support team for 107 service provider organizations using the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale, supporting Ontario’s outcome measurement initiative for children’s mental health for the Ministry of Child and Youth Services.

Dr. Barwick provides professional development in knowledge translation internationally through the Scientist Knowledge Translation Training™ (for researchers) and the Knowledge Translation Professional Certificate™ (for KT practitioners), which was recognized as an Accreditation Canada Leading Practice in September 2013. She consults to government and service providers in the child and youth mental health, education and health sectors and was, until recently, a contributor to Weekly Check Up on the CBC Health website.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is knowledge translation?
Sometimes described as closing the gap between what we know and what we do, knowledge translation involves bringing people together who create knowledge and people who use knowledge (e.g., family caregivers, peer support workers, mental health professionals, addictions counsellors and policy makers) to find new and effective ways to put into practice what has been learned to improve the health of Canadians. 

What are some examples?
Knowledge translation could be a training workshop, an online information session such as a webinar or video, a lunch and learn series in the workplace, Aboriginal elder stories and sharing circles, a photography exhibit, facilitated workshops for exchanging ideas…the list is limited only by imagination.

Who is SPARK for?
Anyone who works or volunteers in mental health, substance use and addictions and who has an idea for knowledge translation but needs training and mentoring support in developing and putting this idea into action. We welcome applications from people across Canada, including Aboriginal organizations, people who have experienced a mental illness or mental health problem, family caregivers, professionals working in mental health and addictions, researchers and policy makers. The workshop is aimed at people who have a beginner or intermediate level of knowledge or experience in Knowledge Translation.

What is the review process for applications to SPARK?
Applications are accepted from across Canada. Each application is independently reviewed by two peer reviewers. 

The deadline for applying to this year’s workshop is Friday, February 28, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. ET. Apply now

Is there financial support offered to those applying to attend the 2013 SPARK Training Workshop?
All applicants selected to attend the SPARK Training Workshop receive funding covering tuition fees, travel to and from Winnipeg from within Canada, accommodation and some meals.