Making Sense of Movements

September to December 2019


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Making Sense of Movements Fall 2019.jpg

What? Since 2012 and 2013, two social movements have brought attention through mainstream media to injustices endured by Indigenous and Black communities. Starting within months of each other, Idle No More and Black Lives Matter bring awareness to the lack of freedom and self-determination in Indigenous and Black communities, to call out racism and state violence, and to create new conditions of engagement between communities and leaders. They were both founded by women, and have been meaningfully impacted by the leadership of youth.

Both movements have a lot in common the the surface but also have distinct differences. Idle No More has focused on environmental concerns, especially tar sands drilling, broken treaties, and violence against Indigenous women and girls. Black Lives Matter has focused on issues in policing, political representation, and limitations on freedom. Compelling questions emerge when comparing these movements.

The Making Sense of Movements Project seeks to accomplish the following objectives: (1) Understand how Indigenous youth and Black youth are making sense of these two prominent social movements, especially with regard to postsecondary decision-making; (2) Identify connections between injustices against Indigenous youth and Black youth in Toronto, and lay ground for further research addressing reconciliation in Canada.

Who? This study pursues these and other questions by engaging Indigenous youth and Black youth aged 14-18 living in Toronto.

How? This project will engage youth in participatory photography techniques as a way to explore injustices against Black and Indigenous youth, and drawing connections between those injustices. The use of photography is a creative approach that will allow youth to explore their identity and define and contribute to their communities specific to their concerns and priorities. Results from this project will take form as photography displays on a project website, posters, reports to research users, Prezis and other public formats. Photography taken by youth will be used in innovative ways such as screen printing and comic book art, under the guidance of artists.

Why? We are doing research that tries to understand how social movements impact your decision-making and community relationships.  We are doing this research to learn more about what Indigenous and Black youth think about their schools and communities, and the policies that affect them. This study will contribute to future research intent on specifying the implications of these movements for simultaneous processes of reconciliation and inquiry in Canada.