March 23, 2019
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Janvier youth to bring resiliency photo exhibit to Peter Pond Mall

By on March 13, 2019 0 275 Views

Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation (CPDFN) youth are launching the WE ARE RESILIENT: “We See the Positive” photo exhibit this weekend at Peter Pond Mall.

From March 16 to March 26, the public will be able to catch a glimpse of youth’s interpretation of community resilience based on recovery from the 2016 wildfire disaster through their photography with narratives about nature, community, connection, friends, Elders, sports and tradition.

The photo exhibit was initiated with support by the Sekweha Youth Centre (SYC) to coincide with the two-year project called Youth Voices Rising: Recovery and Resilience in Wood Buffalo (YVR) facilitated by the RbD (ResiliencebyDesign) Innovation Lab at Royal Roads University.

The YVR project’s purpose was to strengthen youth engagement and was funded by the Canadian Red Cross for the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire disaster recovery efforts.

“Most people think youth don’t have much to say, but they do. They just need to feel comfortable with how they say it,” said Pamela Nokohoo, one of the SYC photo workshop facilitators.

Sweetgrass photo captured by a 14-year-old CPDFN youth.

“Most of our youth have seen a lot in their young lives so far. So, when they speak about their strength, it really does come from within. More people just need to find more creative ways of asking youth questions.”

The Youth Voices Rising Project

The first portion of the research project started in 2017 when RbD Innovation Lab launched a youth-centric social media campaign called #YouthVoicesWB with youth answering the question: “What would you do to make the community better?” through creative arts, and more than 600 youth took part.

Following the campaign, the RbD Innovation Lab partnered with SYC to co-facilitate a photo workshop with 10 youth (aged 14 to 17). This resulted in photo stories for the campaign that fed into a community-based report highlighting the youth priorities across the Wood Buffalo region.

In 2018, SYC and RbD Lab ran a second photo workshop that focused on local strengths, and resulted in the exhibit that will be highlighted this weekend at the Peter Pond Mall.

“The Sekweha Youth Centre wanted to expand the youth voice to not only show their ideas for change, but also local strengths for creating a more vibrant, resilient community,” stated Nokohoo.

“The photo workshop process in the Youth Voices project was not only about learning photography skills and taking images. It was designed to identify, amplify and connect youth visions and ideas for a resilient community to decision-makers who can build on local strengths,” said Dr. Tamara Plush, YVR project coordinator, ResiliencebyDesign Lab.

“Photography is also fun for the youth, and as a collective project in the community, especially through the youth sharing and talking about their work in photo exhibits of their work.”

Youth Share Their Voice

Seventeen-year-old Brina of CPDFN took park in the workshop and shared with YMM Parent that we should be more “focused on youth because the future is in our hands” and explained how they can benefit when given opportunities to share their voice.

“Why is it important to listen to youth voices especially from Indigenous and rural community’s? It is important because we are the ones who will be future leaders. There are a lot of us youth around the Wood Buffalo area who have bright ideas and intelligent minds,” she shared on taking part in the photography project.


A photo of Brina, 17, featured in the “We are Resilient: We See the Positive” photo exhibit.
Photo by ReShaunna, 17.

“Giving young people a voice in school, programs and our communities empowers them and makes them feel like they belong, they are valued, and their contribution matters. These competency feelings also help youth to fully engage and develop team-building and leadership skills.”  

An additional workshop “Building on our Strengths” included youth workers from Janvier, Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan and was co-facilitated by the RbD Lab and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in April 2018.

The launch reception will take place on March 16 at 2 p.m. on the 2nd floor of the mall. The exhibit runs from March 16 to March 26. To learn more about the #YouthVoicesWB campaign and research project, check out the RbD’s Youth Vision & Voice in Wood Buffalo report at www.resiliencebydesign/youthvoiceswb.

About the author

Editor-in-Chief at | dawn@balsom.ca

Dawn Booth is the Editor-in-Chief of YMM Parent Magazine. As a local freelance journalist and owner of the communication service, Media Booth. She has lived in Fort McMurray since 2007 and has actively worked in the Wood Buffalo region's media industry as a newspaper editor for over a decade.

Her passion is writing poetry and volunteering in the community. Most important, Booth puts her family of five first; which includes her husband Ryan, two sons Landon, 8, Dawson, 6, and daughter Tess, 4.

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