Spaces & Places is a multi-site, visual methods study exploring spaces available to youth that establish a sense of community and cultural connection when facing increased risks. The goal is to identify the ways in which communities can build better civic and cultural engagement with youth, supporting positive life outcomes.
The study has taken place in three communities, with a total of 25 Aboriginal youth between the ages of 12-18. We worked with youth in this age group because of the developmental crossroads they have reached in their interactions with their wider communities. Youth invited to the study were seen by community advisors as having something important to say about growing up well in their respective communities.
Youth come from a rural community in Nova Scotia (Mi’kmaw youth living in Eskasoni) and two remote communities in Labrador: one community on the north coast (part of Labrador Inuit region governed by the Nunatsiavut Government) and the other on the South Coast (part of NunatuKavut). Youth from the north coast community of Labrador are Labrador Inuit and youth from the south coast are primarily southern Inuit-Metis. While these three communities share similarities in terms of the legacy of institutionalized segregation and cultural genocide, together with contemporary realities of geographical remoteness, environmental change, and social and economic marginalization, these histories and current challenges also differ in many important ways across the communities. The resources and strengths of each community contain similar but also very unique components. All three communities are actively engaged in efforts to support young people through formalized service provision (such as mental health support groups and individual counselling services) as well as through recreational supports (including sporting activities, arts and opportunities for socialization).
Spaces & Places makes use of a combination of visual methods, observation, qualitative interviews and mutual sharing between researchers and youth to deepen our understandings of young people’s cultural and contextual experiences. Youth are also involved in data analysis and dissemination of findings. As findings emerge, youth at each site select an art medium (video, photography, art, etc.) to communicate findings back to their communities. In addition to local dissemination projects, youth from each of the two communities in Labrador, together with the Spaces & Places team, presented findings at the Child and Youth Care World Conference in June 2013. Similarly, youth from Eskasoni presented findings from the study at the Pathways to Resilience III Conference in June 2015.