More Than Words

Indigenous Peer-led Youth-focused Participatory Arts-Based Work to Address Sexual and Gender-Based Violence 

A pathway to supporting Indigenous young people as knowers, as actors, and as community leaders in tackling sexual and gender-based violence calls for ensuring that they have the tools that allow them to speak and ‘speak back’ on the issues as they see them, as can be found in the rich body of work on the uses of digital media (through photovoice, cellphilming, digital stories) and other storytelling.

More Than Words, is informed by the work of the project implementing team of Networks for Change and Well-being: Girl-led ‘from the ground up’ policymaking to address sexual violence in Canada and South Africa, a $2.4 million SSHRC/ IDRC-funded study (PIs Mitchell and Moletsane) (2014-2020) working with Indigenous girls and young women in relation to addressing sexual violence in both urban and remote field sites. 

The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality, an investment of more than $4.49 million for research tackling gender-based violence in Canada. McGill’s Professor Claudia Mitchell is the recipient of a grant for $739, 200 for the 4-year project, More Than Words: Studying the Impact of Arts-Based Survivor Engagement on Families and Communities. 

In Networks for Change, girls and young women in urban and rural fieldsites in both Canada and South Africa have been engaged as participants in arts-based approaches such as photovoice, collage-making, cellphilm production and other forms of participatory video, and land-based art-making to both highlight critical issues in their lives but also to reach policy makers and stakeholders through exhibitions and screenings. This work is documented in the bi-annual newsletters of Networks for Change and Well-being, and in a new edited collection Disrupting Shameful Legacies: Girls and Young Women Speak Back through the Arts to Address Sexual Violence (Mitchell & Moletsane, 2018) and highlights the activities of each of the groups (primarily girls and young women) in South Africa and Canada, including Eskasoni, Nova Scotia, Treaty 6 Saskatoon, Sisters Rising (a collective of 9 communities) in British Columbia, and in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. 

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