PhotoVoice

The Arctic Health Research Network, a tri-territorial body that focuses on doing research with and for communities instead of about them, has just opened an photo gallery at Iqaluit’s Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum for the months of May and June.

One of the many very cool things about the photo gallery is that its part of two larger research projects happening in the territory using the an innovative method called PhotoVoice.  Its about valuing the knowledge and experiences of people, and giving them the opportunity to find and present their own stories and data.

Essentially, PhotoVoice makes research subjects the researchers.  Want to know about the experiences of food bank users?  Give food bank users a camera, and they will show you.  Generally, participants are asked to take pictures to address a specific research question.  Once the photos are taken, the group discusses each photo and identifies common themes and patterns and the issues that need to be highlighted.  In some cases, it becomes an advocacy project.

One project addresses the impact of climate change on health.  The question for researchers was “How do you believe climate change will affect the health of your community?”  One of the more memorable photos for me was of a snowmobile with a ‘for sale’ sign.  The caption noted that as climate change continues, more snowmobiles will be sold as they will no longer be useful.  In case you aren’t going to make it to the gallery, all the photos are available online.

The other project looked at community food programs in Iqaluit and highlighted the high cost and limited availability of healthy foods in retail settings as well as documenting the ways Iqaluimmuit are addressing this issue, for example, soup kitchens and food hampers.

The work of Arctic Health Research Network is one of the great things happening in Nunavut that needs to be highlighted and shown off.  Their dedication to ethical, community research, and to doing research that benefits Nunavummiut is exceptional and inspiring… Its worth your time to check them out. I promise.

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