In 2019, I became the founding Director of the Centre for Urban Youth Research (CUYR) located in Carleton’s Dominion Chalmers Centre in downtown Ottawa. The mission of CUYR is to be a hub for critical and justice-oriented youth scholars, activists, and community organizations focused on tackling inequalities experienced by young people in urban centres.
I am also a member of the Research Management Committee of a new Network Centres of Excellence on youth homelessness, called Making the Shift: Youth Homelessness Social Innovation Lab. In addition to my role on the RMC, I am the co-lead of the Prevention and Early Intervention theme of MtS.
I am the Co-Investigator on a recently funded Partnership Grant examining the experiences of residents across Canada who live in different types of affordable housing. Funded through the CMHC-SSHRC managed research funds released as part of the National Housing Strategy, I am the lead researcher of the Ontario regional project, alongside regional leads in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. My Ottawa-based research will explore the experiences of formerly homeless young people who have moved into affordable housing, including youth-specific social housing, city-wide public housing, non-profit housing, and portable rent supplements in the private market. The research will determine whether different types of affordable housing result in different social outcomes for young people, including access to employment, schooling, sense of safety in the neighbourhood, and health and well-being. The Ottawa project will be linked to the other regional projects through shared research tools and information gleaned from the newly released Statistics Canada National Housing Survey, which will also be analyzed as part of the Partnership Grant. With national and international steering committees of housing researchers and housing providers, as well as lived experts, the project is designed to be participatory and community engaged. Local Ottawa partners include the Youth Services Bureau, the City of Ottawa Housing and Homelessness Branch, Ottawa Community Housing, Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation, and the United Way of Eastern Ontario. Formerly homeless young people will be trained as co-researchers in Ottawa, and will conduct interviews alongside graduate students from Carleton University.
With Dr. Naomi Nichols at McGill University, I was the Co-Investigator on a successful Insight Development Grant, focusing on building youth-designed policy for preventing youth homelessness through existing systems such as education, child welfare, youth justice, and health care.
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.
I have completed a book, co-edited with Dr. Stuart Poyntz, that brings together a collection of papers by scholars who are using phenomenology to make sense of young people’s lived experiences under globalization. Entitled Phenomenology of Youth Cultures and Globalization: Lifeworlds and Surplus Meanings in Changing Times, it came out with Routledge in February 2015.
In Fall 2014, I began a new research project, funded by the Spencer Foundation’s New Civics Initiative, that looks at the civic engagement experiences of homeless youth in Ottawa. The project is designed to make use of visual, spatial, and phenomenological methods to better understand homeless youths’ encounters with the urban spaces in which they live, and the potential for their involvement in creating civic change that will improve their lives. To that end, the second half of the project is designed as a participatory action research project, in order to work collaboratively with the youth on the issues they identify as most pertinent. The culmination of the project has been three short films, which can be found here, along with a resource guide. The films and resource guide are open for anyone to use; please email me if you use them, just so I can know the impact the films are having.
From 2008 to 2013, I conducted field work the years before, during, and after the Olympic Games in two Olympic cities: Vancouver, BC (2010 Winter Games) and London, UK (2012 Summer Games). I was talking to marginally housed or homeless young people about their experiences as the Olympics came to their city. This project was funded by a SSHRC post-doctoral fellowship and a SSHRC standard research grant. The London fieldwork was conducted with my UK collaborator, Dr. Paul Watt at Birkbeck College, University of London. I have recently completed a book about the project, titled Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty, and Social Legacies (Routledge, 2016). I have also authored or co-authored several academic articles on the research, as well as written a popular piece for The Dominion. This research has also been the topic of several media interviews, many of which can be found here.
While completing my doctorate at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Educational Studies, I served as a senior research assistant for Dr. Jo-Anne Dillabough’s SSHRC and Spencer-funded research project on low-income youth and social inclusion and exclusion in urban schools in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada. Dr. Dillabough and I co-authored a book out of that research, entitled Lost Youth in the Global City: Class, Culture and the Urban Imaginary.
For reviews of Lost Youth in the Global City, see Ferrare and Apple review, Pedagogy, Culture & Society; Goerisch review, Urban Studies; Nayak et al review, British Journal of Sociology of Education; Owens review, Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship; Tamboukou review, Gender & Education
In 2007-2008, I spent a year interviewing, shadowing, and conducting focus groups with young activists (ages 13-29) in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, Canada, who were involved in social movements that challenged the state. The work culminated in several articles and a book, Citizen Youth: Culture, Activism, and Agency in a Neoliberal Era. I framed the research within a critical historiography of citizenship education in Canada, and the making of the ‘responsible citizen’ through state educational practices. That work also resulted in a co-authored article on contemporary civics education in Canada, with Kristina Llewellyn. It can be found here. This article won best publication award from the Canadian Association of Foundations in Education in 2012.