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

Keynote speaker bios | FAQs


Did you know that it can take more than 10 years for evidence-based knowledge to be translated into best practice? Created by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the SPARK Training Program helps participants apply techniques for moving evidence-informed research and knowledge in mental health, substance use, and addictions more quickly into practice.

SPARK brings together participants from across Canada for training with knowledge translation experts, followed by individual assignments and ongoing group mentoring.

This year’s SPARK Training Program, Innovation to Implementation, will be held in Ottawa, Ontario, from June 21-23, 2016. Dr. Dan Bilsker and Dr. Elliot Goldner, internationally recognized knowledge translation experts and co-authors of the Innovation to Implementation Guide, will return as this year’s keynote speakers.

We will also be marking SPARK’s 5 year anniversary. Join us for the celebration!

For more information, please contact:
Liz Wigfull, Knowledge Exchange Specialist

Join the conversation on Twitter: #mhccSPARK

Keynote Speakers

Dan Bilsker, PhD, is a psychologist who consults for a mental health services research group at Simon Fraser University. His academic appointments are Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University and Clinical Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia. Co-author of Innovation to Implementation, a Knowledge Translation guide in healthcare developed for the MHCC, over the last 10 years, he has used knowledge translation principles to spread knowledge and encourage mood self-management via the Antidepressant Skills Workbook (

Dr. Elliot Goldner is a psychiatrist and Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, whose teaching activities have addressed a wide range of topics related to mental health and addiction. His research interests focus on the advancement of services at the population level and he has worked closely with government ministries to provide research information that can support evidence-based decision making and better service delivery. Dr. Goldner directed the national Research Training Program, Research in Addiction & Mental Health Policy & Services, which trains scientists on research methods that advance the healthcare system’s approach to mental illness and addiction. He is co-author of Innovation to Implementation, developed for the MHCC.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Who is SPARK for?
Anyone who works or volunteers in mental health or substance use and addictions and who has an idea for KT but needs training and mentoring support to develop and put it into action.

We welcome applications from people across Canada, including Aboriginal organizations, people who have experienced a mental health problem or illness, 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 KT.

Past participants worked for such organizations as:

  • Adams Lake Indian Band
  • Alberta Health Services
  • Canadian Mental Health Association (various from across Canada)
  • Canadian Nurses Association
  • Centre for Addictions and Mental Health
  • Elizabeth Fry Society (Greater Vancouver)
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
  • Movember
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Regent Park Community Health Centre (Toronto)
  • Schizophrenia Society of Ontario
  • The University of Manitoba

What are some examples of past SPARK KT projects?

  • A mental health nurse and her colleagues empowered families to better support their loved ones and give their input into hospital policy development through a family education series and advisory council.
  • A university researcher encouraged recreational opportunities for clients with mental health problems or illnesses by building networks and training programs for partner organizations.
  • A woman with lived experience of a mental illness wrote and published a book about her experiences to spread a message of hope and recovery and decrease stigma.
  • A nurse disseminated a document and other tools on mental health for nurses working in northern communities.

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

Is there financial support offered to those applying to attend the workshop?
All applicants selected will receive financial support covering travel to and from Ottawa from within Canada, accommodation, and some meals. Please note that we are not able to offer funding for the implementation of KT projects.