The opportunities the Faculty of Arts provides to its students to grow and develop outside the classroom during the summer months are unparalleled in their breadth and diversity both at McGill and across Canada. The Faculty of Arts Internship Program enables students to expand their horizons and engage in meaningful collaborations with corporate and community organizations around the world. Learn more about the program here
Participatory Cultures Lab (PCL)
Céline Wu (She/Her)
yudan.wu [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Hello everyone! I am Céline, and it is my third year at McGill, majoring in Cognitive Science and minoring in Art History. I have been seeking opportunities that would involve my interests. I am always passionate about art, from painting to design and photography. I want to explore the boundaries of art and technology and create immersive new media art using technology. I am also interested in mental health issues and participated in the Lotus Initiative at McGill to raise mental health awareness.
I have always been passionate about art in general. Fortunately, the Participatory Cultures Lab (PCL) has offered me an excellent opportunity to do an internship and explore arts-based approaches and visual tools in an academic field.
I am grateful to be collaborating with my fabulous co-intern, Catherine Zambrano, this summer to get things done. We focused on two main events that occurred at the beginning of June: the Re-visioning Cellphilm Methodologies Symposium and the 10th McGill International Cellphilm Festival (ICF). Both events are centred around "cellphilm," a short video that carries particular messages and tackles specific issues.
Working through cellphilm-related tasks, I become a witness and a beneficiary of cellphilm as a sustainable communal practice. The first project I participated in was Nesa Bandarchian’s workshop on cellphilm. During the workshop, participants were grouped with people they did not know. For instance, I was in a group with people of different ages and professions. The process of brainstorming, storyboarding, and cellphilming brought us together. Several participants disseminated the cellphilm methodology to their own community after the workshop and submitted work to the ICF. Remarkedly, a participant won the first prize in the individual category at the ICF. I have witnessed people retaining messages from the workshop, continuing to work on them and disseminating them to their community. This journey captures the sustainable feature of cellphilm as it is not a transient thing. Apart from witnessing this, I significantly benefited from this workshop. I have learned what cellphilm is, how to make one, and why it is important. These pieces of knowledge helped me understand the value of cellphilming and reflect them in my work. In effect, they gave me a solid foundation for when I develop a communications and social media campaign to build an identity.
I enjoy designing for social media and producing other documents. Creating an inclusive environment on the internet through my poster designs could help ICF sustain a clear and positive image. In return, more people would love to share their stories and opinions via our platform and get to know the method of cellphilm. I also helped Catherine edit and adjust the infographics of a cellphilm toolkit. We have tremendously benefited from previous interns’ toolkit, which has provided guidance on how to run a cellphilm festival. Now it is our turn to pass on our experience and help others.
Cellphilm is a powerful tool to connect people. Apart from the points I have already mentioned, it prompts new ideas and opens a platform for people to express and share. For instance, in a workshop we held at CME Saint-Louis Daycare, children tackled issues about racism, pollution and economic inequality under the theme of "it's not fair." Their awareness of the social problems has already impressed facilitators. Beyond that, when we screened the cellphilms, one child expressed that he appreciated the cellphilm that provided solutions and not just complaints about the situation. The screening session with the kids offers a chance for children to share their opinions and for the facilitators to know more about them.
On the one hand, cellphilm allows some communities to speak up. On the other hand, holding the cellphilm festival itself connects people and forms a new community. Ideas spark and flow in between, and so does well-being.
Catherine Zambrano (She/Her)
catherine.zambrano [at] mail.mcgill.caMy name is Catherine Zambrano, I am a third-year student in Anthropology and Political Science pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at McGill University. I am interested in qualitative research methods and hope to pursue Anthropological studies at the graduate level. I also work for student groups on campus that promote inclusivity and peer support such as the New Student Mentorship Program. I hope to bring these skills to the PCL as an intern this summer. In my free time I also enjoy figure skating and playing guitar.
Throughout my internship, I have worked on cellphilm-based projects specifically the Re-visioning Cellphilm Methodologies Virtual Symposium, and the 10th McGill International Cellphilm Festival.
I am currently working on compiling each set of notes on the information that arose during the Virtual Symposium. This symposium consisted of a series of round tables and panels oriented around the theme of re-visioning methodology behind knowledge production. Questions elicited and considered at the symposium were as varied as: How can these methodologies work in new ways? Who are we working with now? What does agency have to do with it? What about cellphilming in the age of Covid-19 and Beyond?. Alongside this, I am also working with my co-intern to prepare a report on the outcome and impact of the International Cellphilm Festival. This report is a long-term project which discusses the festival, the use of cellphilms, and cellphilming.
The final report, that is an ongoing project, includes reflections on the symposium, which was closely related to the festival, as both events focused on cellphilming. These common elements of cellphilms and cellphilming are what I have found most interesting throughout the internship as I was unfamiliar with them before joining the PCL. Attending a cellphilm symposium, festival and workshops, as part of the Internship has been a fantastic learning experience. Improving my understanding of this method's multi-dimensional elements and impacts has also proven incredibly informative and enjoyable. I am learning how cellphilms have the potential to be a learning tool, inspire social action, and help us imagine the world through a different lens.
I look forward to continuing to explore cellphilms as a method and varied promising capabilities. I am also excited to continue working alongside my co-intern, Celine. We have developed an excellent dynamic working together, and I am looking forward to working on upcoming projects with her.
Working with cellphilms and cellphilming throughout this internship, I have learned that cellphilming can be a tool with great potential in the field of sustainable education. One example that I became very excited with was working on the children's film festival. We facilitated workshops for children eight years of age and under, and they were able to create their own cellphilms. Using the prompt "It's Not Fair," they brainstormed ideas related to themes of climate change and economic inequality, to name a few. I learned so much from them through this creative process.
The festival's theme further speaks to ideas of sustainable education and well-being. The "Re-Imaginings" Cellphilm Festival reflects the sustainability of storytelling through methods of sharing and archiving cellphilms. When understanding different ways to evaluate well-being, communication is a foundational element. Re-imagining a world without discrimination or violence through cellphilming can inspire ideas of inclusivity and cooperation. This internship has given me valuable knowledge, new experiences and inspiration for my own work.
Institute for Human Development and Well-being (IHDW)
Margaux Deroi (She/Her)
margaux.deroi [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Margaux Deroi is a U2 student in International Development, minoring in Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, and Social Justice Studies. She is strongly interested in the understanding of structural inequalities, with a particular emphasis on gender dynamics. She is also engaged in her community through different volunteer initiatives as she truly believes that grassroots implications are the basis of social change. She hopes to continue her studies by doing a master’s degree abroad in medical anthropology.
I’m currently a student in International Development, minoring in Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, and Social Justice Studies at McGill University. I’m strongly interested in the understanding of structural inequalities, with a particular emphasis on gender dynamics. I’m also engaged in my community through different volunteer initiatives as I truly believe that grassroots implications are the basis of social change. I hope to continue my studies by doing a master’s degree abroad in medical anthropology. For now, I have the incredible chance to be an intern at the Institute of Human Development and Well-Being.
I’m currently working on a Participative Research on Education and Agency in Mali (PREAM). As it’s my first research experience, everything is new for me. I began to learn, among other things, how to approach a literature review, what ethical questions must arise in the research process, and what challenges emerge in collaborative research done remotely. Furthermore, this research project was a hands-on introduction to participatory visual methods and, thus, visual data analysis. Indeed, PREAM has been a great learning opportunity on methods like drawing and cellphilms (a participatory video done on a cellphone). It has been particularly stimulating as the project is ongoing, hence I’m diving into the process of knowledge mobilization and transmission.
I have found it particularly challenging, but at the same time highly stimulating, to reflect and try to analyze visual data. At first, I was quite overwhelmed by the amount of information and the number of directions that one can take looking and reflecting on these. I had to take the time to reflect on a more systematic approach to get around them, which is an ongoing reflection. Diving into visual participatory methods confronted me with the different ways of communicating, mobilizing knowledge, and, most importantly, deconstructing the power dynamics present in research between the researched and the researcher. The hardest part has been to accept the subjectivities and the subtilities of the subject’s messages in visual data like drawing. In comparison, verbal communication can appear much more straightforward, as it offers a simplified message where words delimit the perimeter of interpretation. I’m looking forward to becoming more comfortable with this type of analysis and acquiring more information on the researchers’ perceptions of the data collected.
Finally, participative methods challenge the binary between the “object” of research and the researcher; the “object” becomes a subject and actor in knowledge mobilization and creation. By the same token, it can be a motor of well-being in the community. There is no direct correlation between participatory methods and well-being of course, and ethical reflections must constantly be put at the forefront during all research stages. Still, involving the participants in knowledge production can be a way to give power and validity to people’s voices and ideas. Hence, it can potentially contribute to greater confidence and ownership of one’s persona. Furthermore, by putting research participants as co-leaders in the research project, it transforms a temporary research project into a capacity-building opportunity, with long-term tools built at the grassroots level for future projects.
Lana El-Hage (She/Her)
lana.el-hage [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Hi everyone! My name is Lana El-Hage, and I am currently in my third year at McGill, where I am pursuing a major in Psychology with a double-minor in Behavioral Science and Communications. I am deeply passionate about art, human development and well-being, and community engagement. Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to become involved with different listening and interventions centers, where I offered support to at-risk populations. Through these experiences, I became increasingly interested in understanding the role that leadership and policymaking can play in affecting the well-being of at-risk populations. I am very excited to explore these topics further this summer, and I look forward to meeting and working with you all!
This summer, my work has mainly centered around putting together the summer 2022 issue of the IHDW newsletter. My main tasks have included reaching out to the IHDW's co-directors, graduate students, and associates to inquire about their most recent and ongoing work and asking them to compose reflection pieces about their latest work. With the help of my supervisors, I then created a detailed newsletter plan and determined the newsletter theme (i.e., educational sustainability) and its principle components.
Throughout this process, I came to understand sustainability as a multilayered, cross-disciplinary notion. Before beginning my internship at the IHDW, I conceptualized sustainability as an ecological notion, dissociated from other disciplinary areas. However, after engaging with the IHDW and its associates' work, I quickly learned to understand sustainability beyond its ecological sense. Sustainability reaches across dimensions and constitutes the fabric of most initiatives and projects that seek to foster community sharing and involvement.
During the fourth week of my internship, I attended a roundtable on Cellphilming and agency as part of the Cellphilm symposium. Central to most of the speakers' research was the idea of self-dependence. Their projects and interventions, which primarily aimed at encouraging and promoting agency, were also intrinsically sustainable; they equipped community members with the necessary tools to self-advocate, allowed them to identify and address relevant issues within their community, and, therefore, sustain community interventions long after researchers' departure from the intervention site. This roundtable allowed me to bridge the gap between agency, a psychosocial notion, and sustainability, a concept I previously understood as synonymous with environmentalism. In short, I learned, by attending this roundtable and engaging with the IHDW's work, to conceive sustainability as a complex and multifaceted notion, inextricably tied with well-being and human development.
In the coming weeks, I will receive most of the newsletter pieces and begin assembling the newsletter. I look forward to making the newsletter as engaging and interactive as possible by adding images, hyperlinks, and compelling headings. I also look forward to sharing the IHDW's work with our broader community and highlighting, through the various newsletter pieces, the importance, and scope of educational sustainability at the IHDW and beyond.
Sajneet Mangat (She/Her)
sajneet.mangat [at] mcgill.ca
Sajneet Mangat is a fourth-year Honours History student, minoring in Social Studies of Medicine. Her academic interests lie in the many multiple intersections of history, health, and law. Her past experiences at McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy, the Global Health Scholars program, and as an advocacy intern at Global Affairs Canada affirmed her commitment to labouring towards research-backed policy. She is looking forward to spending the summer supporting the work of the IHDW/PCL. Outside of school, Sajneet likes to learn about all things baking, debate, and bicycle repair.
I am an undergraduate student in the Honours History program, minoring in Social Studies of Medicine. I am interested in learning about the many intersections of history, health, law & policy, and data.
I will be honest: I did not know what “arts-based” or “participatory” research entailed before I joined the Institute for Human Development and Well-being. The learning curve to understand the methods, significance and location of the Institute’s research was steep. It’s true that arts-based interventions in and of themselves are valuable, but what do they do? I found myself asking this question often during the first few weeks of my internship. Only after hunkering down to tackle the tasks that I had been assigned, did I begin to appreciate the unique pathways created by participatory arts-based research (PABR). There is a special kind of democratizing goal of PABR—one that seeks to embed the social goods that it creates into the communities that own that research. I came across this theme as I worked on two main tasks – performing background research for a project hoping to work with Ukrainian newcomers in Canada, Germany and Sweden, and synthesizing the IHDW’s projects with newcomers under the banner of “Art Connecting.” I also had the opportunity to assist with developing literature reviews on cellphilm by humanitarian organizations, and a cellphilming and photovoice toolkit created by the IHDW and Oxfam Canada. So, the theme of “sustainability” came out in my interactions with the IHDW’s varied projects. All the projects I am working on have been or plan to be in place for extended periods of time, crossing grant cycles, generations, and interns like myself. But, projects and most importantly, the effects stay.
Human well-being is a function of a multitude of intersecting worlds (a multiverse, if I may)—moral universes, social hierarchies, legal regimes, urban/rural geographies, healthcare systems, etc. The complexity of these factors influencing human well-being create friction in the process of effecting and embedding change, especially when those changes seek to improve. The friction along time and effort demands dedication over a long period of time and towards adaptability. Therefore, sustainability must be at the center of any endeavour to enhance human well-being. Arts based research can mobilize that sustainability more uniquely than conventional research methods. It is accessible, and perhaps very poignantly, tangible—you can see, hear, feel, and do art. Sustainability becomes even more important when we consider the participants and co-creators of our interventions. The IHDW projects that I’ve interacted with are almost exclusively youth driven or youth led. This is testament to the commitment of IHDW projects to the futures, and not only the present of its participants.
I have learned a lot from the IHDW way of doing things. In a world that seems ever so bleak, the IHDW dares its participants to create, decolonize and commit radically to futures. I look forward to supporting the IHDW for the remainder of the internship. Onward, I hope to be challenged in ways akin to how PABR pushes the boundary of transdisciplinary research, and continue my pursuit for learning how best to contribute to the worlds I live in.
Addressing GBV with Indigenous Young People
Molly Mckenzie (They/Them)
molly.mckenzie [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Molly (they/them) is a settler who grew up in so-called Vancouver, BC, on unceded Musqueam, Coast Salish, and Tsleil-Waututh land, and currently resides on unceded Kanien’kehà:ka Traditional Territory. They are in their fourth year at McGill, majoring in Gender, Sexuality, Feminist, and Social Justice Studies with a double minor in Religious Studies and Indigenous Studies. Molly is actively involved in McGill’s theatre community as well as in advocacy for survivors of sexual violence on campus.
So far in my internship, I have supported and contributed to a variety of compelling tasks and projects. I am currently putting together the newsletter for the Pathways2Equity project, which endeavors to engage a youth audience and highlight the growth and accomplishments of the participants of the More Than Words and Pathways2Equity projects. This has included updates on the fieldsites and their work, how Pathways2Equity builds on the work of More Than Words, partner sites, youth publications, artwork, and interactive features such as quizzes. The newsletter is set to be released later this summer, and will highlight how the More Than Words projects have grown and evolved with the participants over time.
One of my favorite aspects about this internship is seeing the tangible effects that this work has for those on the ground at the fieldsites; to hear about what my contributions to the project are able to support and make happen for the participants is rewarding beyond words.
More Than Words and Pathways2Equity have highlighted to me the necessity for sustainable education of the sense of comfort and safety of participants and creating an environment that ensures those needs are met. In order for educational initiatives to be as viable and effective as possible, an environment which supports the most basic needs of an individual is required. Exemplary of this is More Than Words and Pathways2Equity’s creation of separate spaces for boys and young men & girls and young women to learn about sexual and gender-based violence and to heal, as well as explicit and intentional opportunities for them to come together. Doing so ensures that all parties feel that a safe and supportive environment has been created in which they can process raw experiences and emotions, and thus establishes a support network and a sense of groundedness which helps to ease any discomfort that might come with discussing these topics with all genders together. Having this support in place allows for the conversations to be ongoing and to be returned to. In this sense, More Than Words ad Pathways2Equity demonstrate that sustainable education necessitates putting the most basic wellbeing of participants first in order for both dialogue and individual engagement to be maintained.
The Global Health Scholar program aims to address health inequities and improve global health through education, research, and partnerships. Find out more about the program here
Addressing GBV with Indigenous Young People
Nabila Abdalfattah (She/Her)
nabila.abdalfattah [at] mail.mcgill.ca
Hi! I’m Nabila, a U2 student at McGill. I’m originally from Egypt but I moved to Montreal last year. I’m currently in the faculty of arts studying political science and international development. Some of my hobbies include reading, listening to music, and playing basketball. I’ve been passionate about women’s rights for some time now and I look forward to making a difference this summer.
I am originally from Egypt, but I moved to Canada two years ago to attend McGill University. Through McGill, I have made many discoveries, however, MorethanWords has been my greatest one yet. I have always been interested in helping women. Growing up in Egypt, I saw first-hand many of the struggles women are subjected to daily. From sexual harassment to systemic discrimination, it became clear to me that women are at an inherent disadvantage in today's society. In high school, particularly, when I got the chance to work with a local doctor to learn about the dangers of female genital mutilation, I became passionate about addressing gender-based violence. MorethanWords has afforded me the chance to do so on a large scale, which I am very grateful for.
Currently, I am working on multiple tasks. Firstly, I am assisting, through research, in drafting a proposal for the International Development Research Centre that aims to look at the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous women in Canada and South Africa. The project’s main goal is to delve into how the use of participatory visual methodology may create an environment where women can access resources, support, services, and opportunities in the context of COVID-19 and other pandemics. Secondly, alongside my team member, Molly, I am working on creating a Newsletter for Pathways2Equity that caters to a youth audience. Among other things, this project involves planning out segments of the Newsletter, contacting youth editors to collaborate with, and generating activities to engage readers. Lastly, I am organizing an outputs list, or a list of publications, to keep track of all pieces produced by MorethanWords. This includes books, chapters, articles, briefing papers, toolkits, and video pieces. My main task is to simplify this document and make it easy to follow for readers, as, in the past, it has been overwhelming with information.
So far in my internship, I find activities that involve learning about the experience of Indigenous women to be the most interesting. For instance, while assisting on the International Development Research Centre proposal, I learned about the struggles of Indigenous women during the pandemic. For many, this pandemic brought forth an increased burden in the form of domestic violence. Because COVID-19 halted the services provided by many women’s shelters, many women were unable to seek safety. In other words, while violence against women increased, the capacity to protect them decreased, a truly horrifying reality. This opened my eyes to the way in which marginalized groups are disproportionately affected during global crises. It is facts like these that prove to me every day why the work of this organization is so important. Due to my interest in learning about the lived experience of Indigenous women, I am most looking forward to launching the Pathways2Equity Newsletter. This is because it will give Indigenous women a platform to share their struggles and triumphs. More than anything, I believe the work of MorethanWords is about listening to Indigenous women and allowing them to express themselves.
From my time working with this organization, I have learned about the importance of well-being and sustainable education. MorethanWords is inclusive in nature due to its incorporation of both young women and men in the fight to combat gender-based violence. Pathways2equity, which aims to teach men about their role in preventing gender-based violence highlights the importance of bringing men into the conversation. In order to truly build a better future, both men and women need to work alongside one another. Similarly, my internship has taught me about the importance of openness and community sharing. Because the topics tackled by Morethanwords are sensitive, I have seen firsthand how important it is to create an open dialogue. Youth groups led by both men and women as a part of this organization’s work have provided a support system for countless participants, allowing them to be vulnerable with one another. I believe this emotional connection is what makes Morethanwords a success.
aiche.danioko [at] mail.mcgill.ca
My name is Aïché and I am a second-year student doing a B.A. in Ecological Determinants of Health with a minor in Pathology. My interests are neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), social and medical anthropology, and African history, I am interested in the determinants of well-being and ways to achieve it collectively. As a student from Mali, I look forward to working on the Participatory Research on Education and Agency in Mali (PREAM)!
I am a Global Health Scholar working on the Participatory Research on Education and Agency in Mali (PREAM). I am from Mali, so I’m thankful that the PREAM allowed me to work from Bamako for most of my internship.
The PREAM is a collaboration between McGill, the Université des Lettres et Sciences Humaines de Bamako (ULSHB) and Plan International. The project investigates the relationship between adolescents' notions of agency and their experience of education in villages in the regions of Ségou and Mopti.
Since I was in Bamako, I have been able to go to the ULSHB and meet the researchers there. I was able to support them in the recruitment of interviewers for the second phase of the project. This constituted the administration of a questionnaire to adolescents aged 12-19 and though I could not go to Ségou or Mopti, it was a very enriching experience to witness the preparation of the researchers. The process of translating the survey questions from French to Bamanankan and Dogonsso was particularly interesting and elicited lively discussions among students and researchers in various fields.
As I witnessed and participated in these discussions, I realized that information and nuance are invariably lost during the process of translation. One of the central difficulties of the project had been the translation of the word agency itself, first in French and then in Bamanankan and Dogonsso. As international academic collaborations increase, translation presents opportunities and challenges: translation of a term between two very different languages offers the opportunity to generate new insights, but it also allows us to observe power dynamics. As I learned about children’s conceptions of agency (yɛrɛ dɛmɛ in Bamanankan), I also realized that the questions would capture different ideas if they had been formulated in Bamanankan and Dogonsso directly. Would that have been a better way to bolster the community’s involvement in the project, or would that have captured entirely different insights?
I believe that the future of international research on sustainable education lies in the co-development of research priorities and the co-implementation of the projects between local and foreign actors. In the PREAM, this manifests in the involvement of researchers from various departments at the ULSHB in data collection and analysis. In addition, we are currently looking for actors in the field of education throughout Mali, for whom our findings could be relevant. As many interventions are designed and implemented with little to no input from the recipients of those projects, the propagation of our findings could lessen the information gap between these two groups.
I am thankful for Dr. Kattie Lussier, Dr. Claudia Mitchell and Ramy Gorgis, who encourage Margot (my co–intern) and I to think critically about and be creative with our work! Ultimately, to manifest our transformative drive, we have to recognize systemic shortfalls, even when we participate in them and strive to combat them. I think the IHDW is doing a good job :).
The Indigenous Mentorship and Paid Research Experience for Summer Students (IMPRESS) offers Indigenous undergraduate students from McGill or other Quebec post-secondary institutions a unique experiential learning opportunity to conduct research with a McGill professor, or to work on a project at one of our units — all while being paid!
The program aims to strengthen their research skills, boost their career readiness, and expose them to pathways to graduate school, through activities that help them build their skillsets and connect with peers. Each participating student is paired with an Indigenous graduate student mentor who offers support and guidance throughout their experience.
Carina Torre (She/Her)
carina.torre [at] mail.mcgill.ca
My name is Carina Torre and I am 20 years old and going into my third year at McGill. I am Métis and I grew up in Florida, so I am very excited about the opportunity to spend time with Indigenous students working to help the community. For fun, I love roller skating and playing roller derby.
As the other IMPRESS interns and I walked into the 30th annual Kahnawake Pow Wow, the excitement in the air was almost tangible. Every area of the Pow Wow was bustling with people, and my co-intern Jess, who lives in Kahnawake, remarked several times throughout the day that they were sure this was the busiest Pow Wow in their nation’s history. It was clear that the absence of the Pow Wow for the last two years had created a strong sense of anticipation. This was the first Pow Wow that I had ever attended and I was eager to see (and taste) everything. I had come with three objectives: Create content for the @mtw_p2e Instagram story takeover Jess and I were conducting, collect business cards from artisans and makers to add to our indigenous artist directory, and try the Indian tacos and strawberry juice that I had heard so much about.
The process of collecting business cards inevitably led to amazing purchases, as well as lovely conversations with the artists themselves. A gorgeous pair of earrings (thebirchtrail.com) that I bought were made even more wonderful by Michelle, who explained the process of creating the resin jewelry. Makers had come from all over Canada and parts of the United States to be at the Pow Wow, and the distance they had traveled added to how special the event felt.
One of my favorite parts of the Pow Wow was the traditional dancing, particularly that of the hoop dancer. I was transfixed by the way she was able to effortlessly create different shapes with the hoops as they stretched across her arms and legs. The competitive dancing was also stunning, and the details of the dancer’s regalia was a sight to behold. The fact that I got to watch it with a frozen strawberry juice in my hand made it all the better.
The IMPRESS program that my fellow interns and I have been participating in this summer has been truly a wonderful experience that has provided the opportunities to bond with fellow indigenous students and foster a sense of community with one another. Getting to spend the day with them at the
Pow Wow made it that much better, and left all of us eagerly waiting for next year.
Jessica Beauvais (They/She)
jessicabeauvais96 [at] hotmail.com
My name is Jess Beauvais, I am 25 years old, I use They and She pronouns. I am Mohawk of Kahnawake, born and raised. I am going into my 3rd year at Concordia as a mature student, currently studying a BFA in Theatre with a specialization in Performance Creation.
I am an openly Queer person, I have always had a passion for social justice, activism, and education, especially within the context of POC communities.
My girlfriend and I dash to Tekakwitha island as we anticipate the first Kahnawake Echoes of a Proud Nation pow wow in 2 years. In Kahnawake, a Mohawk (Kaniehkehaka) reservation in Quebec 15 minutes south of Montreal, we call this area of the reservation simply “the island”. The island is known for the natural surroundings, during the warmer months you can find kids swimming and fishing, community members walking the path, others going to the west end of the island for the marina.
This summer I’ve been working in the education department with Dr. Claudia Mitchell and their team at the Participatory Cultures Lab. I was hired through a new pilot program at McGill called IMPRESS, an internship program for Indigenous undergrad students. Our main subjects revolve around gendered-violence and MMIP (Missing and Murdered Indigenous People), a side task I was given for this day is to talk to vendors and collect their business cards.
Despite the two-year hiatus, the pow wow seemed in full swing, if anything, much busier than previous years. I usually go to the powwow around 10 or 11 am to beat the crowds, this year the crowd's excitement surpassed my usual plan. Waiting for the crowds to thin in front of vendors, I slowly make my rounds, visiting new and returning vendor stalls. Moccasins, tee shirts with ‘rez jokes, handmade lacrosse sticks, buckets of lemonade, medicine tinctures, corn meal, Indian tacos, beaded jewellery and much more. While visiting vendors, I was strategically planning what I should buy, making a note to get at least one pair of earrings before I left. The next vendor, Ben Sickles, an artist from Eskasoni who told me how he is a 3rd generation silverworker. That is when I saw them, a pair of diamond-shaped silver earrings, in the earrings were a design of a traditional Mohawk warrior tattoo.
As a Queer Kaniehkehaka, I’ve recently taken interest in our traditional tattoos and their teachings, seeing those earrings sparked something inside of me. Warrior teachings and societies tend to be aimed at men in our communities, due to those reasons, I never truly felt a sense of belonging in the binary of our cultural roles. I thought I made a mistake buying the warrior earrings, I began to feel a fraud, like I was potentially telling lies by wearing them. When we take on a symbol or roles, we must live up to them, we must be mindful of our duties and use a good mind when conducting ourselves.
Later that night, I realised I took on a warrior’s role in my everyday life whether I believed it or not. I’m a big sister, a first-born, a protector, a nurturer, an artist, an activist, a student, a teacher, a harm-reductionist, a listener. I’ve devoted my last 10 years of my life making space, using my voice and advocating for all. At my core, without the earrings, without the tattoos, I’ve always been a warrior. We may not be fighting hand-to-hand battles anymore, though we are still fighting against the deep impacts of colonial-capitalism.
Selection of Activities under the various streams and projects of the IHDW and PCL
This year our interns were involved in a number of activities that ranged from event Planning and organization, creating information sharing documents and reaching out to our community members to ask for their stories, supporting research initiatives in organizing and analysis research data , developing toolkits for educating community members on Participatory Visual Methods, and lots more. The activities were done through social media, in-person, or on virtual platforms. Get a more detailed glimpse by browsing the activities below
Planning and Organizing
10th Annual McGill International Cellphilm Festival
The festival showcased this year’s award-winning cellphilms on the theme, Re-Imaginings. The interns participated in organizing the festival, creating a social media strategy, and concluded by publishing a report detailing some of the behind-the-scenes work that went into the festival for our NGO donor CODE.
Workshops! Workshops! Workshops!
In the PCL lab, workshops are our bread and butter. We are constantly engaging our community in workshops, sharing our knowledge and learning from them. Our interns were a vital part of this experience this summer, often participating and helping to organize many of these workshops. Below are a few examples:
Field Work Reflections
As a 2022 IHDW intern from the Global Health Scholar program at McGill University, Ms. Danioko, who is of Malian origin, got the chance to interact and participate in a research session held in Mali with researchers from the Université des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de Bamako (ULSHB). Here, she recounts her experience in the form of field notes, a research strategy often practiced and encouraged in the field.
Analysis, Reflections, and Guidance Notes
As an Arts Internship Office intern Ms.Deroi has been tasked with examining the particular social science strategies that are used in the IHDW’s PREAM project. Here, she reflects on the opportunities and challenges that were faced by researchers and summarizes their inputs into the Big Picture of the fieldwork.
Research Proposals and Interviews
Humanitarian organizations & cellphilm
Partnering with Oxfam Canada, Plan International, CODE
Work on Refugee Issues with Children
Briefing Notes on Arts-based interventions with Ukrainian newcomers
Our IHDW interns undertook researching the provisions and support made for Ukrainian newcomers under the Canadian Government and created some briefing notes comparing and contrasting these efforts on a global scale as well as the contribution potential of Arts-based methodology to address their issues.
Research Support and Planning
Developing a new Working Group for the IHDW
“Art connecting” is the title of a collection of IHDW projects that deploy arts-based participatory methods in research with and by newcomers (that includes refugees, forced migrants, and asylum seekers). New participatory research is needed to learn about and platform their issues. This new research not only must center on the need to involve newcomer communities in work that pertains to their living conditions but also channel the potential of arts-based methods that have consistently demonstrated their unique ability to empower communities to identify and mobilize around grassroots issues.
Through the Art Connecting working group, the IHDW hopes to:
Coalesce the key principles that must inform participatory research with newcomers
Establish best practices
Develop theoretical and practical knowledge on research with newcomers
Interns working with the IHDW helped to embody the following key principles that define the IHDW’s unique transdisciplinary approach to research with newcomers:
GET ART Journal
In June, GET ART organized a trip to take young Indigenous girls to Winnepeg and Saskatoon. This trip included a variety of activities, including, ceramic lessons, museum visits, and a two-day-long Innuit Studies Conference. We wanted to create a method for the girls to document their time away. However, due to the busy nature of their schedule, it became clear to us that this method of documentation had to cater to their time constraints. Therefore, we settled on creating a journal to allow the girls to reflect on their trip in a comfortable manner.
The final part of this journal design is a page dedicated to generating a creative piece from the girls. Because the focus of both More Than Words and Networks4change is mainly art and arts-based methods to combat violence against women, we thought it was very important to capture that through this project. Therefore, every day, following the written journal entries, we asked the girls to produce a creative piece. This space could encompass anything from a drawing to a place where they could attach tickets from the activities they did throughout the day. In that sense, we wanted to allow them to create visual memories. This is vital as art allows individuals to express themselves more freely than within the confines of writing. Thus, the inclusion of art could give us more insight into the thoughts of the girls in their time away. Overall, we hope that this journal is a good balance between written and artistic reflection.
Creating and Information Sharing
Pathways2Equity Fieldsite Handbook
The handbook highlights the creative approaches to studying change that has been undertaken by the MoreThanWords and Pathways2Equity project. Our interns worked alongside our fieldsite participants to showcase how PVMs are shifting the boundaries of traditional research approaches.
Indigenous Makers Directory
Creating and Information Sharing
From making them to helping organize, describe and distribute them, our interns are constantly working with and learning from toolkits.
Information Sharing and Outreach
Pathways2Equity Fieldsite Newsletter
The Pathwasy2Equity project is lucky to have two Indigenous youths as editors for the upcoming newsletter publication. Interns have been partaking in connecting with the fieldsite youths, helping to promote their activities, collect and transcribe their accomplishments and reflect on the significance of the youth objectives going forward. In particular, this newsletter has been a collaborative effort, with calls from Indigenous youth themselves to contribute to the content.
Outreach and Connection
Checking in with Indigenous Youth
Some of the most important aspects of research are the connections that we establish with the people we work alongside. In particular, we develop relationships with the youth who are at the centre of our goals and development. As such, interns get the chance to experience connections with many of the youths involved with the IHDW and PCL. The More than Words project offers a unique opportunity to get involved in Indigenous youth activities, but to also hear their voice, their interests, their challenges and their successes. The More Than Words project were there to see the Indigenous youth plan and expand on the GET ART and BET ART programs and how these projects are spreading their wings across Canada and the Globe.
Information Sharing and Outreach
Social Media Takeover
Whether spreading the word on our Cellphilm Festival through Twitter, promoting the successes of our researchers to the world on Facebook, or using Instagram as a diary of daily activities in a research project, our interns have taken over social media with their enthusiasm and creativity to bring our projects to the foreground of the 21st century and beyond.
Information Sharing and Outreach
IHDW Newsletter 2022
This Newsletter highlights the theme of Sustainability.