Jacqueline Kennelly

Encountering Democracy

Low Income Canadian Youths’ Perspectives on Citizenship and Democratic Processes

In collaboration with the Ottawa Art Gallery and Citizens Academy, in December 2016, we had the opportunity to host a public screening of the results of our research project with homeless youth. We had generated three short films with the youth, which were focused on the issues they had identified as most important to them - including policing, decriminalizing marijuana, and the supports they need to transition out of homelessness. The public participated in activities that were similar to those that the youth had conducted, including mapping, a thermometer exercise, and discussions of the films.

This 3-phased project was designed to elicit homeless and formerly homeless youths’ perspectives on democracy and citizenship and build towards an action or advocacy project with the youth. The last phase – the action phase – was a culmination of the first two phases, and was left intentionally open to emerge organically from the youth involved. Youth thought about what kinds of action projects they would like to be involved in. Some youth suggested creating a video. Local filmmaker, Ben Hoskyn, and two crew members did the technical aspects of filming. The topics were a mix of issues that are important to youth (i.e.: transitioning out of homelessness; decriminalizing marijuana; and youth and policing). Topics also have traction right now with the broader community and social services world. The films are now a product that can be used in a variety of different ways.

You are encouraged to draw on our Encountering Democracy Resource Guide, developed with educators in mind. The Resource Guide is meant to accompany a classroom/community film screening, with the purpose of sparking critical engagement in the topic of youth homelessness.