RbD supports youth consultation on Canada’s Emergency Management strategy

The RbD was instrumental in supporting Public Safety Canada’s (PSC) recent consultation with youth  on the  development of a new, comprehensive EM strategy for Canada. The virtual consultation was held July 6th and engaged youth around questions concerning how to help shape strategies to support a culture of disaster preparedness and resilience, and improve disaster mitigation and response.

The consultation is one of a number of consultations with stakeholders that include emergency managers, government representatives, Indigenous Peoples, first responders, and critical infrastructure owners and operators. The decision to develop a new EM strategy responds to a recognized shift in Canada’s disaster risk profile, characterized by the increasing frequency, magnitude and cost of disasters. The initiative acknowledges the need for greater involvement and investment in emergency management in ways that increase our shared ability to understand and assess these risks in order to strengthen Canada’s collective capacity to better prevent/mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies.

Public Safety Canada reached out to Dr. Cox and the RbD lab to help identify and engage youth from across Canada in a virtual focus group. Over 20 young people from across the country agreed to be involved. Participating young people offered insights from on a range of questions that focused on how to support greater collaboration among different sectors of Canadian society; ideas for improving risk communication; and suggestions for initiatives that would improve the capacity of individuals, families, communities and organizations to reduce risks and increase resilience.Youth who could not participate will have an opportunity to contribute through their written responses to questions p0sed.

“This kind of consultation with youth is all too rare,” says Cox, adding that “it provides another great example of young people’s commitment to contributing to Canada’s disaster resilience and the valuable expertise and perspectives they bring to this topic.”

The feedback from participating youth will be added to the information gathered from other stakeholders and will inform PSC’s development of the new strategy which they hope to share with the Canadian public in the spring of 2018.

 

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Dr. Cox calls for a culture of resilience

Dr. Robin Cox, Director of the RbD Lab, was one of ten featured speakers participating in the Resilient Calgary event, May 16th, sponsored by Mount Royal University’s Centre for Community Disaster Research. Cox’s talk, Engaging Youth to Create a Culture of Resilience, focused on exploring the potential for drawing on the passion, energy, creativity, and intelligence of young people to address the complex problems of escalating disaster risks and climate change. Cox challenged the audience to consider how current decision and policy-making models and processes and structures are inadequate to address the rapidly escalating risks. Both too conservative and too siloed, these structures continue to be reliant on habitual thinking and processes that do not reflect the non-linear and emergent issues of wicked problems. Cox argued for an increased focus on cultivating a culture of resilience based in multi- and trans-disciplinary thinking and flexible, collaborative perspectives. She suggested that creative, innovative and collaborative mindsets are needed to shift the status quo and re-imagine solutions to these complex problems.

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RYSE project launches May 2017

The Resilience Youth in Stressed Environments research project officially launches this month. Principal Investigator, Dr. Michael Ungar, Scientific Director of the Resilience Research Center, Dalhousie University and Dr. Robin Cox, Director of the RbD lab, will be overseeing the research in two Canadian communities – Drayton Valley Alberta, and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. The RYSE research project is a multi-sited, five-year, international research project, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and developed to study the resilience of young people in the context of oil and gas production, consumption and climate change.

Dr. Sarah Fletcher has been hired as a postdoctoral fellow to work on this first year of the project. She will be supporting and mentoring two Dalhousie doctoral students, Margaret Heffernan and Laura Wright, in the field as they engage in this initial stage of data collection and analysis. Joining them will be Tara Lewis, a Masters student and resident of Drayton Valley, and Katy Hildebrand, an incoming Master of Arts student in the MA of Disaster and Emergency Management at RRU.

The project will be collecting and analysing data over the course of the summer, drawing on the insights and interests of youth using participatory action research and arts-based methods to explore their health, wellbeing and resilience priorities. Youth and community feedback will inform the later stages of the project, which include resilience surveys, environmental mapping and stress biomarker data.

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RbD Lab explores youth resilience

Team members from Royal Roads’ ResiliencebyDesign (RbD) Lab recently presented at the 5th Annual Keyano College Arts and Humanities Conference “Coming Through Fire: Rebuilding, Reconciling, Rethinking” in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

The RbD Lab’s presentation—Youth Voices Rising & Creative Action Research: Recovery & Resilience in Wood Buffalo—engaged participants through the visual storytelling method of storyboarding. Here, conference participants creatively explored the question, “If you had all the power, how would you make life better in your community?” as a means to support conversations that matter to young people living in the Wood Buffalo region. The participants, most in their early 20’s, highlighted changes they want to see in their community, such as reducing harmful acts of gender discrimination and the need for improved healthcare services during pregnancy.

The storyboards from the conference will contribute to a social media and youth engagement campaign launching in the Wood Buffalo region later in the year as part of the RbD Lab’s research into strengthening youth recovery and resilience after the Fort McMurray wildfires.

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Hill speaks out as DRR change agent

At the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Americas in early March, Tiffany Hill, a researcher in the RRU ResiliencebyDesign (RbD) Research Innovation Lab, highlighted the importance of youth having a voice in DRR decision-making. Watch her interview with Public Safety Canada about “How to be a DRR Change Agent.”

As Tiffany explains, “I think we already know it’s important to involve young people in this platform, in disaster risk reduction. They are passionate, interested and can come up with creative and innovative solutions to complex problems. And whether we like it (or not), young people have an investment in reducing the risks and impacts of disasters because we’re living in it. So here’s an opportunity: Meaningfully engage young people in the conversations and decisions in how to address these risks.”

Tiffany attended the Platform alongside RbD Lab Director Dr. Robin Cox, Professor & Program Head of the Disaster and Emergency Management Program in the School of Humanitarian Studies, and Research Assistant Kennedy Hill. Tiffany is currently working in the RbD Lab on the Alberta Resilient Communities research project and pursuing a Masters of Arts in the Interdisciplinary Studies program at Royal Roads University.

Be sure to also watch Tiffany’s video in the UNISDR Youth Video Challenge.

 

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