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Archived - Backgrounder: Fifth round of successful Kanishka Project counter-terrorism research proposals

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The Kanishka Project Contribution Program is a multi-year investment in terrorism-focused research funded by the Government of Canada. On June 23, 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Kanishka Project, an initiative named after the Air India Flight 182 plane that was bombed on June 23, 1985, killing 329 people, most of them Canadians. This initiative invests in research on pressing questions for Canada on terrorism and counter-terrorism. Research supported by the project will increase our knowledge of the recruitment methods and tactics of terrorists, which will help produce more effective policies, tools and resources for law enforcement and people on the front lines.

The project’s primary focus is on research, but it also supports other activities necessary to build knowledge and create a network of researchers and students that spans disciplines and universities. The research funded by the project will improve Canada’s ability to counter terrorism and violent extremism at home and abroad.

Funding in the amount of approximately $1.5 million has been awarded in this fifth round for the following projects.

Project Communitas
(Canadian Council on Muslim Women)

This project aims to strengthen individual and community resilience through the development and evaluation of inter-cultural and inter-faith community-based projects that foster social interdependence, active citizenship, dialogue and youth leadership. At the community level, the emphasis on resilience will include focusing specifically on 1) threats of racial, political and religious extremism, and 2) physical attacks on one’s community. At the individual level, the focus will be on self-confidence, problem-solving and communication skills, relevant to the capacity to manage emotion during crises. The project will involve six cities/communities (Montreal, Ottawa, the Greater Toronto Area, London, Edmonton and Vancouver) and over 300 youth (ages 18-30) from across Canada.  The Department will provide a contribution of $250,458 over three years.

Development of Curricula to Combat and Prevent Hate Speech Leading to Violence and Violent Extremism: Using Social Media to Build Resilience in Canadian Youth
(Concordia University)

This project will develop and evaluate curricula and multimedia material specifically targeted towards Canadian youth in elementary, secondary and post-secondary contexts and designed to prevent hate speech inciting violence and violent extremism. Core themes will include digital literacy, the ability to critically assess and question online content; and social cohesion in context of fostering dialogue on divisive subjects. In addition, the project will create and test a web portal to host the material. The portal will be designed to serve both provincial education policy makers and federal government stakeholders involved in countering violent extremism and promoting resilience, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The Department will provide a contribution of $172,340 over two years.

Barriers to Violent Radicalization: Understanding Pathways to Resilience Among Canadian Youth
(Dalhousie University)

While a number of studies have investigated factors that predict why youth radicalize towards violence, such as in contexts where they perceive a need to fight injustice, this project will investigate individual, community and institutional factors that make it likely that youth resist engagement in politically motivated violence. The project will focus on two youth populations: (1) Aboriginal youth who have grown up with the knowledge of the Oka Crisis and the Ipperwash tragedy; and, (2) Somali Muslim youth who live in the same communities as young people who have been radicalized to in Canada or have left Canada to join a terrorist group. The Department will provide a contribution of $200,000 over two years.

Evaluating Countering Violent Extremism Programming: A Handbook for Civil Society Organizations
(Fourth Freedom Forum Inc.)

The project will produce a guide for civil society organizations to help in the evaluation of countering violent extremism (CVE) programs. The guide will focus on illustrative case studies, produced through research into lessons learned and evidence-based good practices. The examples will focus primarily on the experiences and projects undertaken through the RCMP and its partners in Canada, but also offer a set of comparative cases from government agencies and nongovernmental organizations from abroad. The Department will provide a contribution of $100,000 over two years.

Towards understanding the extremely rare: distinguishing ordinary processes of religious conversion from violent extremism
(Dr. Scott Flower)

This research project is designed to inform research, government and public perception about recent examples in the West where Muslim converts are disproportionately represented in acts of Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism. Importantly, the research aims to counter misperceptions driven by claims of direct connection between processes of religious conversion and radicalization leading to violence, which can lead to stereotyping entire groups of people as security threats based on religious choice. Processes of radicalization leading to violence are rare and highly specific to individuals and to context, while general processes of religious conversion commonly lead to positive outcomes such as self-esteem and sense of belonging. In this context, this project will focus on establishing the contextual factors and baselines against which to understand the rare cases of extremist violence in the name of a religion, to be able to distinguish what matters from what does not. The Department will provide a contribution of $169,240 over two years.

Social Media Target Audience Analysis: Measuring the Impact of Counter Narrative Resources for Education Professionals in Canada
(The SecDev Foundation)

This initiative will develop means to measure the impact of films created to counter narratives of violent extremism, especially in the social media space, as well as create an advanced toolkit for practitioners to help not only in measuring impact but also in more effectively tailoring and disseminating such educational resources for intended audiences. The work brings together and builds on two projects from previous rounds of successful proposals. One is the the SecDev Foundation study into the feasibility and appropriateness of using large-scale open source information for early warning of radicalization leading to violence. The second is the Trialogue Educational Trust initiative to create a series of counter-narrative films and online educational resources for use by frontline workers such as teachers, community, youth workers, and law enforcement to support early intervention with at-risk individuals. The Department will provide a contribution of $147,455 over two years.

Evaluating Methods to Diminish Expressions of Hatred and Extremism Online
(Dr. Susan Benesch)

This project will study forms of “counterspeech” online, such as efforts by users to get those expressing messages of hatred or violent extremism to change their tone or even recant in certain circumstances. The study will examine evidence about whether specific kinds of user-generated counterspeech have a positive or negative effect on the tone or frequency of hateful and dangerous speech online. Based on this analysis, the study aims to develop a more systematic understanding about what characterizes effective counterspeech, both in terms of form, such as content and tone, as well as of context, such as the relation between the sender and receiver. Ultimately, the aim is to inform community organizations, information and communications technology firms and government about the relative effectiveness of approaches to counterspeech in different circumstances. The Department will provide a contribution of $100,000 over two years.

The Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS)
(University of British Columbia)

TSAS was created in 2012 with funding both from round one of the Kanishka Project, and a Partnership Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, with the aim to foster multidisciplinary research on terrorist radicalization, the coordinated interaction of academic researchers with government officials, and the cultivation of a new generation of young scholars interested in terrorism, security and the impact both on society. Funding awarded in this round will support two research calls by the Network to conduct research with direct application to the policies and/or practices of the Government of Canada, and which addresses areas of priority identified in Canada’s national Counter-Terrorism Strategy. One call is for affiliated senior researchers, while the other for students completing Masters or Ph.D. studies, with research to be disseminated through the TSAS online library. The Department will provide a contribution of $240,000 over two years.

Investigating the long-term psychological consequences of terrorism: Factors that contribute to trauma, grief, growth and resilience
(Voices of September 11th)

The purpose of this project is to assess the long-term positive and negative psychological symptoms of individuals who experienced the death of a loved one after an act of terrorism, drawing on the experiences of family members of September 11th victims and the families of victims of Air India flight 182. A central goal of the study is a more systematic understanding of traumatic symptoms, resilience characteristics, and post-traumatic growth, including when and in what circumstances they are likely to occur. The Department will provide a contribution of $122,639 over three years.

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