PROJECTS

Current and Past Research Projects

Young Boy in a Museum

With Dr. Naomi Hamer.


Children's story museums have become distinctive venues for public awareness and critical engagement
with the representations and constructions of childhood; however, only limited scholarly work has focused
on these sites. This proposed research examines the children's story museum as a dynamic transmedia
platform for the design of participatory exhibits and critical dialogue. While many current exhibits affirm
idealized childhood representations, transmedia engagements (across old and new media formats) within
these spaces have significant potential for critical and subversive dialogue with ideological constructions
and representations of childhoods. Framed by participatory and activist museum movements, towards
'queering the museum' and 'decolonizing the museum', this proposed project will focus on the negotiation
of youth citizenship through emerging technologies in these spaces. From this perspective, we query how
current children's museum exhibits focused on childhood texts and cultures present opportunities to
negotiate, subvert, and/or reaffirm cultural discourses of childhood, nationalism, gender, race, sexuality,
and ability. The proposed research aims to harness the potential of transmedia storytelling with the
invitation for critical dialogue with childhood discourses across media. While museum education has
employed interactive media for visitor engagement, the inclusion of digital storytelling and transmedia
practices for critical dialogue and intervention is relatively new. Drawing upon theoretical and
methodological frames from museum studies and the field of children's media cultures, this project invites
children to engage as collaborative curators in the transmedia design of a pilot story museum exhibit
rooted in local rare books and archival collections including the Osborne Collection of Early Children's
Books, Ryerson University's Children's Literature Archive, Toronto, and Ontario Archives, alongside the
child participants' own stories and imagined narratives.

This project is funded by an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada until 2021.

Toronto

ASSESSING THE IMPACTS OF INVESTMENT AND DISINVESTMENT IN HIGH-RISE RESIDENTIAL TOWERS IN TORONTO ON THE QUALITY OF LIFE OF IMMIGRANT FAMILIES: TOWARDS SOCIALLY JUST AND INCLUSIVE CITY BUILDING

With Dr. Sara Edge and Dr. Sutama Ghosh.

For urban planning and development initiatives to be socially just and inclusive, investment decisions must promote equitable access to healthy environmental conditions. This study employed spatial analysis and mixed qualitative methods to examine:


  1. patterns of investment/dis-investment in high-rise residential towers across Toronto,

  2. how select neighbourhoods with high proportions of immigrants compare with other parts of the City

  3. impacts of built, social and environmental conditions upon the well-being of immigrant families, and

  4. barriers and opportunities facing immigrants in having greater influence over processes that shape their living environments


Results revealed how substandard conditions and gentrification are unduly impacting low-income newcomers, particularly those with precarious status, forcing individuals into unsafe situations. Results also revealed stories of resilience and innovation. This work contributes to the growing evidence-base on healthy built environments by asserting an equity and inclusion lens that is largely absent. Findings reveal impacts and barriers that are unique to newcomer populations, and include recommendations on how to better support their inclusion in urban development processes such as Community Benefit Agreements, resident councils or City renewal strategies. Examples of health promoting investments in high-rises are also documented such as spaces that support community-organizing, community kitchens, gardens, or resident-based microenterprises. Community Engagement and Knowledge Exchange Workshops communicated findings back to those most affected and enabled opportunity for immigrants and service providers to share their interpretations and reactions to the results and strengthen opportunity for underrepresented voices to influence existing knowledge on high-rise conditions, redevelopment and planning initiatives.

This project was funded by RBC Immigrant, Diversity and Inclusion Project Funding for 2017-2019.

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CHILDREN AND NATURE

With Dr. Laura J. Shillington.

This project sought to interrogate the relationships between children and nature through the lens of urban political ecology. A journal article and book length manuscript were published from this work. 

This project was funded in part by the University of Manitoba and the United Nations University for Peace.

Film Reels

COMMUNITY-BASED PROJECT FOR RECLAIMING ABORIGINAL KNOWLEDGE AND REMEMBERING COLONIAL HISTORIES THROUGH ETHNOGRAPHIC FILM

With Dr. Tyler McCreary.

About the project:

This Project focuses on a process of community engagement in northern British Columbia.  Witsuwit'en and Gitxsan elders reinterpret cultural and environmental histories in ethnographic films taken for the National Museum of Canada’s educational programming in the 1920s.  The project produces new educational material and resources for children in local schools.


Project Description

The Carrier Indians of British Columbia (1927) and The Tsimshian Indians of the Skeena River of British Columbia (1927) were both written and directed by Harlan Ingersoll Smith, an archaeologist at the National Museum of Canada and pioneer in documentary film and museum education in Canada.  These films contain the earliest motion picture recordings of members of the Witsuwit'en community and are an important source for Witsuwit'en community history and cultural revitalization.


The Reclaiming Aboriginal Knowledge and Remembering Colonial Histories Project centres around a process of community engagement to reinterpret early these ethnographic films.  This reinterpretation, by Witsuwit'en and Gitxsan elders, is used to construct new multimedia educational materials to teach children about both Aboriginal and colonial histories. The results of this initiative will be reviewed by a process of community consultation before release on a website jointly owned by the three partners: Hagwilget Village Council, School District #54, and the Moricetown Band.  Our process has been guided through the involvement of the Wisuwit'en hereditary chiefs.


Working principally in the Aboriginal communities of Kyah Wiget and Hagwilget, and the adjacent communities of Smithers and Houston, this project will engage the community through a documentation of historic representations of Witsuwit'en people in early ethnographic film. Alongside archival research, Tyler McCreary conducted interviews with Aboriginal elders, hereditary chiefs, and cultural experts to resituate the films in a community context.  Through a series of private screenings and interviews, the elders advise on the most appropriate way to frame the films as a community educational and historical resource.  While the original films did not recognize the names of particular hereditary chiefs and community members, the project restores recognition of these predecessors of current members of the Witsuwit'en.  The film’s records of traditional practices are supplemented with the histories from traditional knowledge holders.


This project serves several objectives:

  • Brings attention to the role of historical cinema in constructing cultural and environmental histories of northern British Columbia;

  • Supports Aboriginal peoples' efforts to bring Aboriginal cultural and ecological knowledge collected in the early twentieth-century back into the community;

  • Educates future generations of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children about Aboriginal cultural traditions and traditional ecological knowledge;

  • Demonstrates the impact of colonial policies on Aboriginal communities;

  • Celebrates Aboriginal cultural resiliency;

  • Builds unity and strength within Aboriginal nations through sharing knowledge of Aboriginal history and culture.

This research resulted in two journal articles here and here.

This Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council subgrant project was funded by the Network in Canadian History and Environment from 2010-2011.