Youth Voices Rising

Droughts have become commonplace and are intensifying as a result of global warming. 

In 2016, a massive wildfire swept through northern Alberta and severely damaged communities in the Wood Buffalo region and the City of Fort McMurray. 

The Youth Voices Rising (YVR) initiative joined with community partners to support youth engagement and decision-making during the disaster recovery process.


Young people often possess unique and valuable knowledge, creativity, insight and expertise when it comes to thinking about how communities can recover from disaster events. The “Youth Voices Rising: Recovery & Resilience in Wood Buffalo” project recognizes this and aims to strengthen youth engagement and decision-making influence in the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire disaster recovery efforts. See the project report at


YVR is working with young people (age 14-24) and youth-centred organizations through a Creative Action Research process supported by social media, creative arts and visual storytelling. The project focuses on learning from and empowering youth affected by the wildfire disaster. For instance, the RbD Lab ran the youth-driven, community-wide #youthvoiceswb campaign Sept 29-Oct 27 on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram & Twitter, with more than 600 youth engaging in the campaign.


The RbD Lab team worked with multiple community partners during the #youthvoiceswb campaign. For instance, it facilitated photography workshops with local staff & youth from the Fort McKay and Janvier Sekweha Youth Centres, and supported creative arts activities with local youth-centred organizations such as the District Recording Studio, Meicholas Art Foundation, the Justin Slade Youth Foundation, YMCA and more. In 2018, the Youth Voices Rising project will focus on strength-based, Creative Action Research initiatives that will investigate the positive in communities as the focus of inquiry. YVR is funded by the Canadian Red Cross.


Youth Voices Rising aims to strengthen young people’s capacities and capabilities to engage as citizens in short and longer term disaster recovery processes; as well as enhance the capacity of existing local community-based, youth-serving organizations in designing and facilitating youth-centred approaches to disaster preparedness, resilience and risk reduction. This focus on learning from the expertise, experience and insights of Wood Buffalo residents will contribute to a shared understanding of disaster resilience and youth engagement that can be applied locally, provincially and a national level.

Reports & Publications