Rita Isabel Henderson is a post-doctoral fellow with the Promoting Health through Collaborative Engagement with Youth in Canada project through the University of Calgary’s Department of Community Health Sciences, in the Cumming school of Medicine. She earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the Université de Montréal for research into the learning of civic behaviour among youth of indigenous and settler descent in post-repression contexts of southern Chile. Under the supervision of Dr. Wilfreda Thurston on the Voices against Violence team, Dr. Henderson will carry out oral history and story-telling workshops with youth from displaced communities (i.e. of diverse Aboriginal and refugee backgrounds) in southern Alberta, with the aim of strengthening inter-generational relationships in home communities of at-risk and high-risk adolescents. Through extra-curricular workshops, youth between 13 and 17 years of age will be engaged as co-researchers and authors of personal and community stories of origin, with the effect of empowering participants as self-advocates capable of identifying their welfare needs and of fulfilling more active roles in their health promotion. Three overlapping goals drive this participatory action methodology, to:
- Validate the social identities of marginalized youth by recognizing how structural violence is defined, understood, and experienced according to diverse social backgrounds;
- Engage experiential strategies for coping with rapid social change embedded in local and indigenous ways of knowing; and
- Expand the sociological imagination of at-risk and high-risk youth through self-reflection and creative expression.
Dr. Henderson is also a founding member of the Arts and Humanities for Health and Wellbeing Research Group and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Calgary.