ResiliencebyDesign Lab Open House

On Tuesday, April 17, 2018, the ResiliencebyDesign Lab held our Open House event at the Royal Roads University Library. THANK YOU to everyone who came and helped make the event such a success! The event kicked off the ResiliencebyDesign Lab exhibit ,which will run in the Library until June 8th.

People attending the ResiliencebyDesign (RbD) Open House were able to explore the creative and impactful research the RbD team has been engaged in –  reading the panel displays hung around the room describing each of the RbD’s projects as well as exploring the research student associates of the lab have undertaken. The RbD team were on hand, and guests were able to chat with them about their experiences working with youth affected by disasters and climate change, and working to enhance the resilience of their communities.


Guests were treated to live music from Willi and Genoveve Whiston of Fort McMurray. Willi worked with the RbD on their Youth Voices Rising project, which is focusing on how youth can contribute to the rebuilding of the Wood Buffalo community after the devastating forest fire in 2016. Willi, as the Creative Director of The District Recording Studio in Fort McMurray, worked with local youth aged 14-24, to write and produce original songs in response to the #YouthVoicesWB campaign question; What would you do to make your community a better place? Eight original songs were produced as part of this process – all of them featured on the @YouthVoicesWB social media platforms and at a #YouthVoicesWB Talent Showcase in November.

Following Dr. Cheryl Heykoop’s acknowledgment of the traditional territories on which RRU stand, Dr. Michael Young, School Director of SHS and Dr. Brigitte Harris Dean of the Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences shared some words of introduction tand welcome. This was followed by a creative mettisage-style introduction of the RbD team. Kicked off by Robin Cox, the Director of the RbD Lab, with each team member celebrating what inspires them about the work of the RbD.

One of the highlights of  the event was the moving performance by Willi and Genoveve’s of their original song, “Change,” (written for the  #YouthVoicesWB campaign) inspired by watching the Fort McMurray community rebuild after the fire. You can hear the song here:

The spirit of community was highlighted with Willi and Genoveve joining the RbD even from Wood Buffalo, and the reminder that while the Lab’s work reaches communities globally, the underlying vision of collaboration, resilience, and the importance of listening and telling our stories, connects us all and will continue to make this work so meaningful.


The exhibit includes 20 short videos, all produced by RbD lab team members or the youth with whom they work; some of the lab’s academic publications; , a graphic mural showcasing the Lab’s vision and values; and a weird and wonderful abstract 3D dandelion sculpture which represents the lab’s goal of seeding ideas and change through research.

During the open house, and for the duration of the exhibit, guests can join in the creative fun by responding to a question about the vision for education in the 21st Century on paper feathers that will be posted to form angel wings on the wall – an idea borrowed from the YVR project in Fort McMurray. So come and check out the exhibit, share your response (feather) and take a selfie to post on social media, using the tag: @resiliencebydesignlab.


Please visit our exhibit in the Royal Roads University Library any time during it’s opening hours until June 8th.

RbD Lab Partners to give Youth Ideas Flight in Angel Wing Art Installations

Partners in the RRU ResiliencebyDesign Lab’s Youth Voices Rising (YVR) ( project in northern Alberta recently joined together in a Creative Action Research project. Youth workers from the Chipewyan Prairie First Nation Sekweha Youth Centre and the Fort McKay First Nation Youth Centre met in Janvier (2 hours north of Fort McKay) to learn how to create an Angel Wings Art Installation in March 2018. Leading the training was Reinalie Jorolan, from Zen Touch Art Creations and the Meicholas Art Foundation, who initially designed the installation for the YVR #YouthVoicesWB campaign that focused on how to make community better from a youth perspective.

Reinalie Jorolan, from Zen Touch Art Creations and the Meicholas Art Foundation pictured here with one of the youth workers.


Loaded with colorful cans of paint, countless paint brushes that differed in shape and size, and cardboard that will last for days, Reinlalie woke up on a mission to teach. She brought the materials and a training manual to the workshop to show the teams how to technically create the installation. As well, together, she and the youth workers explored how the wings could be used as a Creative Action Research process (in partnership with the RbD Lab) to learn about and build on the strengths of youth in the region, and amplify their voices.

In the workshop, Reinalie explained how art can allow those who have been affected by trauma another form of expression, which is important in communities touched by the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire disaster. Working alongside the RbD Lab, she explained how guiding questions for the Angel Wing feather design can help youth identify where they can start building on their strengths.

Melissa Herman, an RbD Lab Research Assistant, supported the workshop and learned alongside the team. She said the installation was more complex than she imagined, especially cutting out the cardboard feathers with a utility knife, “To be completely honest, I have much more appreciation for each Angel Wings Art installation because cutting the detail into a feather can take a toll on your hands. But each feather is absolutely necessary. Each will eventually be painted with images that speak a thousand words; and be an image that will be shared in support of the vision of the youth.”

In the workshop, with painted, stained and dedicated hands, the group produced around 100 feathers while exploring what each centre and its staff was up to—with lots of laughter and learning along the way. The youth centres are about 200 kilometers apart, so the workshop was a great opportunity for the youth workers to meet each other. The youth workers will engage young people in the coming months to create the Angel Wing art installations in their communities.

They will come together again in late April—along with youth workers and youth leaders from the Lake Athabasca Youth Council in Fort Chipewyan—for a “Building from Strengths” workshop, rooted in Indigenous ways of knowing, to learn and explore leadership & youth resilience along a strength-based pathway. The workshop will be facilitated and hosted by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s Indigenous Leadership and Management team and the RRU ResiliencebyDesign Research Innovation Lab as part of the Youth Voices Rising: Recovery and Resilience in Wood Buffalo project, funded by the Canadian Red Cross.

RbD Lab Research Assistant Melissa Herman.


Article by Melissa Herman, RbD Lab Research Assistant, and Dr. Tamara Plush, RbD Lab Postdoctoral Fellow

ResiliencebyDesign Open House

The Lab is excited to announce our Open House event and you are warmly invited to attend!

The ResiliencebyDesign Lab’s Open House event at the Royal Roads University Library will run on April 17th, from 11:30am to 2:30pm, with opening remarks at 12:15pm. We will be showcasing the Lab’s work in areas of climate change, youth resilience and transformative learning through active displays, including a gallery walk through. The Lab’s work includes projects working with youth in crisis in communities from Wood Buffalo, Alberta to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

Faculty, staff, students, and the public are welcome. There will be snacks provided. We look forward to seeing you there!

If you cannot attend the Open House event, you can visit the exhibition at any time the library is open from April 16th to May 31st.