411.5 Sharing stories to activate dialogue with refugee youth in Montreal

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 5:03 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Elizabeth MILLER , Communication Studies, Concordia University, Montreal, QC, Canada
Michele LUCHS , Ministry of Education, Montreal, QC, Canada
Sharing Stories to Activate Dialogue With Refugee Youth in Montreal

Submission for the Visual Sociology Thematic Group (TG05)

Joint Presentation by Michele Luchs and Liz Miller

The goal of Mapping Memories, a collaborative multi-media project for refugee youth, was to explore how media tools like digital cartography, soundscapes, and digital storytelling could be used to solicit powerful stories while empowering participants in the process. The first stage was to hold media workshops to help youth participants develop their stories, while at the same time developing new networks and friends. Participants were able to compare and reflect on their experiences as newcomers in a safe and supportive environment.

For many participatory media projects, a meaningful process is a powerful but single objective. Beyond developing methods for constructing stories, we worked to develop innovative methods to share the stories with the general public. We explored virtual (on-line) and physical (on-ground) venues with the objective of using personal stories to challenge stereotypes and foster dialogue. We wanted to explore how these stories might effect the youth involved by having them witness the impact of their stories on diverse audiences.  We also wanted the youth involved to develop presentation and leadership skills. We developed a refugee youth speaking tour so that our youth participants could meet with students in classrooms around Montreal.

 In coordination with the youth tour, we have developed a teacher training initiative for teachers interested in using visual tools and digital stories to address complex issues such as genocide and human rights abuses in the classroom. In this presentation we will discuss our challenges and insights from our four-year project of helping youth refugees use their stories towards dialogue and activism regarding refugee rights, human rights violations, belonging, tolerance, cultural identity, and personal resilience.