International student explores Indigenous youth wellbeing with arts and culture

International student explores Indigenous youth wellbeing with arts and culture

Friday, April 21, 2017

Guest blog by Robyn Dugas, Content Specialist, Mitacs

Jessica Blain was a third-year undergraduate student from Australia’s University of Sydney.Through a Mitacs Globalink Research Internship at Concordia University, she helped evaluate the impact of a community-based theatre program on the wellbeing of young people in a remote First Nations community in Northern Saskatchewan. Her experiences showed her the potential for arts-based programs to provide a positive space for fostering creative development and leadership among Indigenous youth.

Participatory arts and culture activities created by and for Indigenous communities is an approach that’s gaining traction. Researchers and community members collaborate to empower Indigenous youth, who get to explore their creative sides with storytelling, culture sharing, and performance. The inclusion of local researchers helps ensure that the youth find meaning and value by participating.

Jessica’s gained a new perspective from this research, especially when combined with her previous experience as a youth program coordinator in rural Australia. “This research at Concordia is giving me a different lens on issues that many Indigenous people in Canada and Australia face. It’s helping me to think more critically and develop my understanding of potential, practical ways to explore and address very complex issues by facilitating and honouring community-based solutions,” she says.

Following her internship, Jessica is contributing to an anthology that explores community theatre’s impact on health and well-being. She’ll highlight the benefits of participatory theatre for Indigenous youth. “I think this is what Mitacs Globalink is all about,” she says, “Learning all about Canada and Canadian culture, while also contributing to important research that is making a difference. It’s really been a blessing and privilege to come here, and I’m going to relish this experience for years to come.” 

University faculty: get a top-ranked undergrad for your Summer 2018 research projects. The Globalink Research Internship is accepting faculty project submissions until June 14, 2017, at 5 p.m. PDT. Learn more at the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship.

Mitacs is hosting the following events at Congress:

About Mitacs
Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that delivers research and training programs for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty. We work with universities, companies and not-for-profit organizations, international partners, and governments to build partnerships that support social and industrial innovation in Canada.