Alberta Resilient Communities

Alberta Resilient Communities (ARC) arose after the extensive 2013 flooding disaster in southern Alberta. The aftermath resulted in five years of youth-focused and youth-centric research conducted by the Resilience by Design (RbD) Lab, in partnership with the Alberta Resilient Communities Research Project.

The RbD research teams, together with flood-affected communities in southern Alberta, focussed on a series of workshops to understand and improve the experiences of youth and their communities in the post-disaster recovery process. The participating children and youth generated prototypes for community resilience initiatives that were later implemented with the support of mentors and community connectors.


In the wake of catastrophic and escalating natural disasters such as the 2013 floods in Southern Alberta, there is a need to prioritize disaster risk reduction and resilience with communities, governments and practitioners. The Alberta Resilient Communities (ARC) responds to this imperative through a research project that brings together three universities and flood affected communities from Southern Alberta to focus on understanding and improving the experiences of children, youth, and their communities in the post-disaster recovery process.


The RbD team is specifically working with youth from flood affected communities in Southern Alberta – to learn from them and engage them as resilience leaders in their communities. We have engaged in an innovative, youth-centric social innovation process designed to build leadership, research, and innovation skills such as community engagement, research, visual storytelling, and critical reflection. The process has generated information to better understand the flood’s impact on young people’s lives and their perspectives on the recovery process in their families and communities. As an output of the social innovation process, youth generated prototypes for community resilience initiatives that they are now implementing with the support of mentors and community connectors.


This project is funded by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions. It involves the collaboration of three co-leads and research teams: the ResiliencebyDesign Research Innovation Lab team under the direction of Dr. Robin Cox (Youth-stream); researchers from the University of Calgary under the direction of Dr. Julie Drolet (Community-stream), and researchers from Mount Royal University under the direction of Dr. Caroline McDonald-Harker (Child and Family stream). We are working with a group of committed community and system stakeholders to better understand the social, economic, health, cultural, spiritual, and personal factors that contribute to resiliency among children and youth while simultaneously contributing to the capacity of communities to enact resilience building strategies.


The ARC-Youth-stream is contributing to the development of innovative youth informed resources, tools, guides, and frameworks to have a positive impact on resilience and disaster recovery. Using arts, technology, storytelling, and other creative methods, youth have designed resilience initiatives that address disaster and climate change-related problems relevant to their communities. These initiatives create space for youth to meaningfully and creatively share their perspectives, drive positive change to their environment, encourage ethical consumer habits, foster critical thinking skills, and deepen the ability of people to respond and communicate in the face of disaster. To maximize their reach and strengthen their projects, youth have partnered with adult allies and local thought-leaders. In partnership, their focus moving forward is to further develop and mobilize knowledge and awareness of their projects in community spaces.

Reports & Publications

Scannell, L, Cox, R.S., Fletcher, S., and Heykoop, C. (2016). “That was the Last Time I Saw my House”: The Importance of Place Attachment among Children and Youth in Disaster Contexts. American Journal of Community Psychology, 58(1-2), 258-173. (DOI: 10.1002/ajcp.12069)

Scannell, L., Cox, R. S., & Fletcher, S. (in press, 2017). Place-based loss and resilience among disaster-affected youth. Journal of Community Psychology.