Pimatisiwin

A Photovoice Exploration of the Lived Experiences of a Small Group of Aboriginal Adolescent Girls Living Away from their Home Communities

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Abstract

This paper discusses how a small group of Aboriginal/Indigenous adolescent girls, living away from their home communities and/or families, understood their lived experiences. These experiences were explored with photovoice, a participatory action research method using photography to capture and analyze participants’ experiences and viewpoints, and educate/change the broader community. The participants identified both adversity and strength/resilience in their lived experiences. Despite feeling challenged by stereotypes; the experience of intergenerational trauma and loss; the suicide of friends and family members; peer pressure to smoke, drink, and use drugs; and the unfamiliar challenge of living away from their home communities, the participants conveyed a realistic and positive view of their life and development. They expected to make mistakes along the way as part of a life-long learning process. They expressed an interest in engaging with cultural traditions and practices; were willing to leave their home communities to access education; appreciated and accepted their families, seeking out support when required; found solace in nature; and supported and encouraged their friends and peers. The findings challenge negative stereotypes and essentialized notions about Aboriginal adolescent girls, peoples, and communities, and are consistent with an emphasis on strengths and resilience.

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