Global Child McGill Research Projects
For an overview of some of the Research Projects, navigate using the boxes below to find out more
Born of War: The Perspectives, Rights and Needs of Children Born of Wartime Sexual ViolenceBorn of War investigates the realities, perspectives, health and well-being needs of children born of wartime sexual violence in three countries: Northern Uganda, Rwanda, and Cambodia (see below for more on these three research partnerships). Using participatory and arts-based research approaches, this in-depth study examines this complex topic using a socioecological lens, bringing together the perspectives of children and youth born of wartime sexual violence, as well as those of mothers, fathers, extended family, and community members. Born of War is funded by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
A critical feature of the Born of War project is the engagement of affected local youth as co-researchers. Following intensive training on qualitative research methods, youth researchers are encouraged to draw upon their own lived experience to serve as leaders throughout the research process. Youth researchers have been instrumental in conducting individual interviews, facilitating focus groups and art-making activities, engaging in data analysis, as well as various forms of research dissemination including journal publications, conference presentations, theatre, radio documentaries, and art exhibitions.
Community-Based Research in Northern Uganda: Children Born in Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) Captivity
Dr. Myriam Denov is currently collaborating with Watye Ki Gen – a community-based organization in northern Uganda. Watye Ki Gen is made up of a collective of women who were abducted by the LRA and held in captivity. The organization is working to strengthen the collective voice of former abductee women, particularly within mechanisms of transitional justice. The key focus of their work is on the rights and needs of children born in LRA captivity. Our collective project is exploring the multiple challenges that children born in LRA captivity report facing in the post-war period including, rejection, stigma, violence, socio-economic marginalization, and issues of identity and belonging. Both children born of wartime rape and their mothers are part of the research team.
Community-Based Research Project on Children Born of Genocidal Rape in Rwanda
During the 100 days of genocide in Rwanda (1994), 350,000 women and girls were systematically sexually assaulted. An estimated 10,000 children were born of these sexual assaults. On discovering the pregnancy, some females resorted to suicide, self-induced/clandestine abortions, abandonment and infanticide. Born of the genocide, these children, often referred to as “children of hate”, became living reminders and symbols of the suffering survivors endured at the hands of their children’s fathers. In collaboration with her local research partners, Dr. Myriam Denov and her co-investigators at McGill (Dr. Sara Kahn, and Dr. Rene Provost), and collaborator Dr. Laura Eramian (Dalhousie University) are working to understand the lives, experiences and needs of children born of the genocide. Within the 481 members of the partnering local organization, at least 100 were raped during the genocide. Half of these victims of rape are now raising children born of sexual violence, and 85 of them are HIV positive. The project is tracing the lives, perspectives and needs of children born of genocidal rape and their families.
Community-Based Research in Cambodia: The Realities of Families Affected by Forced Marriage during the Genocide Regime
In a partnership with the Cambodian Women's Crisis Center (CWCC), Dr. Myriam Denov's Born of War research project examines the impact of the Cambodian genocide on the family and the regime's policy of forced marriage. This research project collaborated with local partners, in order to provide expertise specific to the Cambodian context. CWCC’s is a women’s organization that focuses on those affected by gender-based violence and injustice. By focusing on protection, prevention and advocacy, CWCC’s mission to empower women and girls in order to promote a peaceful and equitable society, regardless of social status, gender or other differences. Protection programs include immediate drop-in crisis intervention facilities, safe shelters, legal assistance, and monitoring, but also efforts aimed at literacy, vocational training, reintegration and repatriation that serve to empower women to return to their communities securely. By engaging the community, local authorities and law enforcement, prevention programs aim to foster a safe and supportive community through various awareness-raising initiatives, such as anger management programs, positive parenting programs, and increasing girls access to education. Finally, CWCC advocates for legal and policy reform that favour gender equity through communications and publications efforts, information management, and ongoing cooperation with government decision-making.
Evaluating the potential for improving child safety and security through housing and human settlements programming in Kenya
The collaborative study involving Rooftops Canada, the National Cooperative Housing Union of Kenya (NACHU), McGill University, Kenyatta University, and INTERALIA Consulting Group aimed to determine whether improved housing, tenure security, and living conditions in informal settlements affects family welfare and the risks of violence to children both within the home and outside of it and whether it contributes to more sustainable communities. Using both qualitative (e.g. drawings, photovoice, mapping) and quantitative (e.g. face-to-face surveys) approaches with children, youth, and adults, researchers determined that despite the positive impact of tenure security and improved housing on children’s safety and security, community members overwhelmingly place greater importance on a safer neighbourhood than a better home.
The children’s striking visual productions were significant in identifying several themes of ‘feeling safe’ and ‘not so safe’ including domestic/sexual violence, gangs, and environmental security. The analysis of these themes was then used to produce an 8-minute ‘digital dialogue’ video tool, More Than Bricks and Mortar. This study, conducted under the Children and Violence Evaluation Fund and supported by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Oak Foundation, and UBS Optimus Foundation, further developed a toolkit to provide a rationale and ‘how to’ on participatory visual methodologies for community-based researchers who focus on ensuring the safety and security of children in relation to housing in slums and informal settlements (Khan & Mitchell, 2014).
Circles Within Circles: Transnational Perspectives on Youth-Led Participatory Approaches to Combating Sexual Violence
This project, funded by the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the International Research Development Centre (IDRC), was a conference/summit event held near Montreal, 2018. This intergenerational event brought together participants from Canada, South Africa, Sweden and Russia, as well as remote participation from research sites in Ethiopia and Kenya to participate in a transnational dialogue on sexual violence and well-being from multiple perspectives. Indigenous girls, gender activists, academic researchers, community partners and national and international NGOs engaged in richly informed discussions around the implications of addressing sexual violence for policy, education and well-being. The most vital of all contributions were the voices and artistic expressions of Indigenous girls and young women, whose leadership and lived experiences informed the dialogue around urgent changes needed locally and globally.
Over three days, participants joined in various activities culminating in the creation of the Montebello Girlfesto, outlining a vision for equity, equality, justice, and dignity for all people in a world without gender-based violence. The project also created a handbook, Creating Circles: A Handbook on Art-making with Young People to Address Gender-based Violence to serve as a resource for those working with young people in schools or community settings to address sexual or gender-based violence through art-making and various visual, participatory methods (Vanner et al., 2019).
Initiated in May 2013, the Youth Forum has brought together war-affected youth between the ages of 15 and 25 to share their reflections on war, migration and resettlement to Canada. The youth forum has been facilitated by five members of the research team, including war-affected youth, with the objective of co-creating a space for voices to be shared and heard. The research group sought to enhance the knowledge, quality, and direction of the research group, as well as encourage and promote youth participation and empowerment. Members of the Youth Forum meet once a month to discuss relevant issues, as well as possible solutions. The Youth Forum has sought to build a context and space of trust and safety, while fostering a sense of cohesion and belonging amongst participating youth. The Youth Forum is funded by Fonds de Recherche du Québec sur la Société et la Culture (FRQSC).
The following publications have emerged from the Youth Forum:
- "Co-creating space for voice: reflections on a participatory research process with war-affected youth living in Canada" in Participatory methodologies to elevate children’s voices and agency.
- "Rethinking the meaning of 'family' for war-affected young people: Implications for social work education."
Global Child McGill is publishing an edited book entitled: Children and Families Affected by War, Displacement & Migration: A Tri-Pillared Approach. Led by an interdisciplinary and international team and involving various generations of scholars (including youth who have been directly affected by armed conflict and migration), the book is divided into three sections: 1) Arts-based approaches, 2) Participatory approaches, and 3) Socioecological approaches. Each section includes conceptual work on the above-noted approaches and case studies.