Resilience and Hope: Exploring Immigrant and Refugee Youth Experiences through Community-based Arts Practice

  • Heather McLeod Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • Leah B. Lewis
  • Xuemei Li Memorial University of Newfoundland
Keywords: Indigenous Peoples, Covid-19, Indigenous knowledges, Indigenous education, knowledge holders, Elders

Abstract

Community-based arts practice is programming that informs and fosters essential components of well-being and belonging, including resilience, community attachment via interpersonal connection and exchange as preventive to mental health stressors. Our Art Hive is in a centre-city high school with immigrant and refugee youth in St. John’s Newfoundland, where newcomers often face an insider/outsider dynamic of disconnection. The pop-up Art Hive is a publicly accessible and community-located art-making space grounded in Adlerian theory, collaborative community development, feminist thought, and social justice. Through a community-situated arts-based participatory process, we sought emergent themes. An earlier phase of our collaborative project involved visual art-making and exploring experiences of inclusion and belonging. A second phase of the project included some of the same youth and new members, adding local students invited by the immigrant and refugee youth. This phase explored resilience and hope as a feature of well-being and functioning and as having a relationship with immigrant and refugee youth experiences in smaller Canadian centres. The Art Hive, a form of community art therapy practice, is structured along seven social parameters: focus on intentional art-making, no critical commentary (positive or negative), non-evaluative in nature, no forced participation, witnessing, sharing, and participatory involvement of facilitators. The participant-planned and hosted final exhibit contributed to learning, sharing, and group cohesiveness. A focus group generated data on how the Art Hive informs cultural experiences and feelings of hope. 

Author Biographies

Heather McLeod, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Heather McLeod is a Professor (arts education) in the Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland. She has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Review of Art Education, and has been recognized for excellence in curriculum development (national award) and teaching (faculty award). She taught in BC and Nunavut and worked in communications for a teachers’ union and government.  

Leah B. Lewis

is a registered creative arts therapist and psychotherapist with a background in counselling psychology. Her research interests are arts-based and community-situated. Her current projects include the Open Studio Project, an Art Hive with newcomer youth, and Digital Stories with Newcomer Youth. Her other interests include arts-based health inquiry. 

Xuemei Li, Memorial University of Newfoundland

is an associate professor at the Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her research interests include newcomer (immigrant, refugee, & international student) integration in Canada, particularly in Newfoundland, methodology in teaching English-as-a-second-language, English academic writing, and cross-cultural identity reconstruction. She publishes, teaches, and supervises in these areas. 

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Published
2021-04-15
How to Cite
McLeod, H., Lewis, L. B., & Li, X. (2021). Resilience and Hope: Exploring Immigrant and Refugee Youth Experiences through Community-based Arts Practice. Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching, and Learning, 6(2), 88-104. https://doi.org/10.15402/esj.v6i2.70765