The Experiences of Youth from Immigrant and Refugee Backgrounds in a Social Justice Leadership Program: A Participatory Action Research Photovoice Project

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Research about the negative experiences of youth from immigrant and refugee backgrounds commonly emphasizes a lack of English language proficiency, criminal activity, and underachievement. More recently, a strengths-based, resilient, and social justice lens has been used to look at this historically oppressed population. In this research, I examined the experiences of immigrant and refugee youth in their involvement in a social justice leadership club in a secondary school in Calgary, Canada. I drew from Iris Marion Young’s theoretical framework using her five faces of oppression: exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence; and her four normative ideals of a deliberative model of democracy: inclusion, political equality, reasonableness, and publicity. I used photovoice and semi-structured interviews as part of the research design to work collaboratively with six female high school youth between 16 and 17 years of age to share their social justice initiatives with educational powerholders. The themes of identity and belonging, advocating for social justice, mental health awareness, and aspirational stance to dream emerged from photovoice participant analysis and interview data. I share the overarching themes of resiliency, self-efficacy, and empowerment; troubling Islamophobia; and reshaping the narratives of the school and community despite pressures to conform to the dominant culture. I also present future directions and recommendations to support youth from immigrant and refugee backgrounds in their social justice endeavours.
minoritized, immigrant, refugee, youth, leadership, social justice, photovoice  
Ko, G. (2019). The experiences of youth from immigrant and refugee backgrounds in a social justice leadership program: A participatory action research photovoice project (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from