Participatory Photography as a Means to Explore Young People’s Experiences of Water Resource Change


  • Jennifer A. Fresque-Baxter Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University


This paper highlights experiences from a participatory photography project undertaken with high school students in Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories. Working with local teachers, the project linked environmental change research with classroom-based curriculum objectives. The project explored the relationships young people have with their lands and waters, and documented their experiences of water resource change. Incorporating young people’s perspectives is a critical avenue for research because they have important observations in the here and now, and are future scientists and community leaders. As such, young people can play a key role in water decision-making in the territory. Engaging young people as active co-producers of environmental change knowledge in a research context requires unique and creative approaches. Participatory photography offers a means for expanding the current suite of tools to explore the relationships that young people have with water and place.

Findings show that young people are keenly aware of how their waters are changing, and that they are concerned about the effects of these changes on engagement in land- and water-based activities. Outcomes and lessons, including the importance of student voice, flexibility and adaptability, and establishment of school-researcher relationships, are highlighted. The goal of this paper is to encourage researchers and policy-makers to expand their suite of tools for exploring person-place connections and to consider the important observations and experiences of young people in development of policies for use and protection of water. 


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