Category Archives: Participatory Cultures Lab

What I loved about interning with the Participatory Cultures Lab at McGill

By Felicia Tugak

November 8, 2016 – finally the day I’ve been waiting for since, like, forever! (December 2015). I was so stoked to prepare for the internship in Durban, South Africa.  At first, I was feeling shy about being part of the team. It’s normal especially if you don’t know anyone. But everyone in Montreal was so welcoming and our team (the Participatory Cultures Lab) was super supportive!

So, on the first week of my arrival, I was fortunate enough to come during the time Montreal was hosting the National Women’s Studies Association Conference. I was able to learn more about what some women were facing in some parts of Africa. Sadly, just before the week was over, I got sick.

Of course, our schedule was tight and well planned at McGill University, but there was so little time to do other workshops and activities.  Practically every part of our time in Montreal and everything that we did there from the work to meeting people, building teamwork by using workshops, activities, writing blogs and having meetings, was valuable…


My favorite part as an intern, was the celebration of A Space for Arts. I learned how other people used different ways to express their feelings. As we have many artists back home that use different ways of arts to express themselves but these were different from what I had seen from home. The university was approved to bring some arts to bring colour and interest to the campus which was bit dull before.

I believe that our team at the Participatory Cultures Lab learned more about our home when Tonya and I made a presentation about Nunavut. Nunavut is a young territory, so not everyone knows about our place. They had just learned about how we lived then and now. During our presentation, I noticed that everyone had been attentive to everything we had written up for our presentation and asked a lot of questions which we answered keenly.



Winners Announced at the 4th International Cellphilm Festival

By Tonya Tagoona, IAYI Intern

On Friday, December 2, 2016, the 4th International Cellphilm Festival “Exploring Consent: Bodies, Lands, & Media” took place at the McGill Education Building in Montreal, Canada. Basically, a cellphilm is integrating mobile phone technology into participatory visual research and activism. At the festival, there were 11 videos shown and each video was between 60-90 seconds long. Our invited guest speakers at the Cellphilm Festival were Ying-Syuan Huang and Professor Lisa Starr. Ying-Syuan shared her experiences using cellphilms with pre-service science teachers at McGill. Professor Lisa Starr presented on the use of cellphilms in exploring and exposing gender inequity in Ethiopia. Although all 11 videos were great, there could be only 3 winners with a honourable mention. The honourable mention went to Can I Help You? by Kelly Loi and Jorge Antonio Vallejos. Are You Watching? A Cellphilm about Consent & Surveillance by Nick Sabo & Sarah Sabo came in third. The Day After by Nicole Boudreau & Marc Bragdon came in second and finally, the first place winner for the 4th International Cellphilm Festival went to Exploring Consent: Bodies, Lands & Media by Munira Sitotaw & Yohannus Gebru. Congratulations to the winners and thank you for those who came and joined the festival.

1st Place
Exploring Consent: Bodies, Lands & Media

2nd Place
The Day After

3rd Place
Are You Watching? A Cellphilm about Consent and Surveillance

Honourable Mention
Can I Help You?

Photos by Felicia Tugak, IAYI Intern


Professor Claudia Mitchell Receives SSHRC’s Top Research Honour


On November 22nd, Professor Claudia Mitchell was awarded the SSHRC Gold Medal for strengthening HIV/AIDS Education and Prevention.

For the full article see Professor Claudia Mitchell receives SSHRC’s top research honour.

Institute for Human Development and Well-Being Official Launch

McGill’s Faculty of Education is pleased to announce the establishment of the McGill Institute for Human Development and Well-Being (IHDW). The IHDW is a new transdisciplinary unit led by the Faculty of Education and drawing together researchers from McGill’s Faculties of Medicine, Arts, Science, Engineering and Dentistry.

“The driving force behind the creation of the Institute,” stated Institute Director Dr. Claudia Mitchell, “was a recognition of the importance of fostering research, training, teaching, and collaboration amongst researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, professionals, schools and communities with an active interest in the development and well-being of the human individual from a transdisciplinary perspective.”

Please visit for more information about the Institute.

Photos from the official launch on April 5, 2016:


Professors Lajoie, Mitchell honoured at McGill’s Bravo gala

At McGill’s annual Bravo gala last week the winners of major provincial, national and international prizes, together with their families, friends and colleagues, gathered to celebrate excellence in research and scholarship.

The University’s Bravo gala, now in its eleventh year, celebrates the cream of the researcher crop.

Two professors from the Faculty of Education were honoured at this year’s Bravo gala: Professor Susanne Lajoie, of our Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Professor Claudia Mitchell, of the Department of Integrated Studies in Education.

In October 2015 Dr. Lajoie was awarded Acfas’ Prix Thérèse Gouin-Décarie recognizing her pioneering work in the social sciences. Citing her “groundbreaking research over two decades, and her acclaimed prolific publications,” Dr. Claudia Mitchell was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in September of last year.

Slam and Spoken Word Artists – Call for Participants

We are looking for young slam and spoken word artists who are interested in participating in a poetry/research project this summer.  Participants must be between 16 and 25 years old on 4th July 2016 and must be available for up to 17 days of project work between 4th July and 26th August.  The project will be a collaboration between social scientists and spoken word artists to create research-based poems related to the theme of discrimination.   It is being run by Dr Helen Johnson (University of Brighton, England) and Prof Claudia Mitchell (McGill University).

During the project, you will be trained in research methods by experienced social scientists and share poetry performance and writing techniques with other spoken word artists, including in masterclass workshops.  You will also help produce and perform in a spoken word performance in Montreal  and create a chapbook of poems.  Participation is free and participants will not be expected to contribute to any materials or tuition.  All participants will receive $300 CAD of book vouchers, a one month public transit pass for citywide travel, ten copies of the chapbook, a certificate of participation and a written reference reflecting their achievements.

If you are interested in taking part or finding out more about the project, please email Helen Johnson at:

Further Information about Helen Johnson (Project Helen Gregory by Gary Learmonth2Organiser)
I am a performance poet, poetry events organiser and academic, specialising in work about/involving the arts and creativity. I have been writing poetry most of my life and performing poetry since around 2000. I run the spoken word areas of several festivals in the UK, including the Poetry&Words stage at the world’s largest greenfield festival, Glastonbury Festival. I work as a senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of Brighton, in England, where I teach a range of different subject areas, including qualitative research methods, community Psychology and the (critical) history of Psychology. My research to date has explored a range of topics, including: UK and US slam communities (doctoral research), poetry interventions in dementia care, and the cognitive neuropsychology of metaphor production.

Until the end of 2015, I was called Helen Gregory, so you will find a lot of my work under that name!


Further Information about the Project
This project is funded by the National Centre for Research Methods and the University of Brighton. Its aim is to develop and articulate innovative, arts-based research methods for the social sciences. The method we will be looking at is autoethnography. This is where researchers write creatively about their experiences, rather than producing the standard , academic journal articles and conference papers. These creative accounts can be much more accessible, engaging and meaningful than the usual dry and dusty academic texts, but they are not always creatively accomplished. My hope, then, is to bring a group of skilled spoken word artists on board, to write high quality poems that are underscored both by their own experiences of discrimination and by what social scientists understand about discrimination.

The poets working on this project will be treated as co-researchers and will be able to shape the focus, timetable and direction of the project, so the way this proceeds is very much open to discussion. The draft plan currently looks like this:

– From recruitment-June: liaise/collaborate with poets over email about the design, focus and timetable of the project

– July: Approx. 4 workshops on research methods (looking at participatory research, arts-based research and literature searching) , 1 or 2 masterclass poetry writing workshops, sessions reviewing the literature (poets working both independently and in a group with Helen Johnson), drafting poems

– August: writing and redrafting poems, 1 or 2 masterclass poetry performance workshops, show design, chapbook design and printing, rehearsals and performance, focus group discussing how the project went

– After August: The lead researchers (Helen and Claudia) will make a video about the project from footage taken during the July/August work. They will also write up the method and project work for journals, conferences and teaching materials.

If you want to find out more about arts-based research, this article about an exhibition I put on to challenge dementia stigma, would be a great place to start:


University_of_Brighton_160px logo Print

New Book: Girlhood and the Politics of Place


Publication date: January 2016

For more information, visit: Berghahn website

Why We Remember: HIV/AIDS Media Now

A two-day series of public conversations, screenings and performance on HIV/AIDS media and activism, presented by the Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, McGill University and the FQRSC funded team in Feminism and Contemporary Media.

Roundtable on Youth Participation, Digital Media and Taking Action with Claudia Mitchell, Hani Sadati, Katie MacEntee, and Haleh Raissadat on Friday, February 12th at 11:00am-12:30pm at Casa del Popolo (4873 Boul. St. Laurent).

Free and open to the public. For more information:

For complete schedule see:

Media Now-FF


3rd International Cellphilm Festival: What’s a Cellphilm? DIY in the Digital Media Age

On December 1st, 2015, Katie MacEntee and Casey Burkholder held the 3rd International Cellphilm festival at McGill’s Jack Cram Auditorium. The festival celebrates one-minute cellphilms—films made on a cellphone—and this year we drew 21 entries from across Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico, and South Africa. This year’s theme, What’s a Cellphilm? DIY in the Digital Media Age, inspired a variety of interpretations from teachers, activists, and citizens. All of the entries from this year’s festival can be viewed in a digital archive on YouTube.

Melissa Zadravec was the first-runner up from Canada, for her cellphilm, “Teaching about Residential Schools to Children,” which explored the need to tell difficult histories to children in language and through examples that they can digest.

Giovanny Rodriguez, of Mexico, was our international first-runner up for his philm, Binniza` – Cultura Zapoteca, which describes traditional Zapotec cultural practices and employs gorgeous cinematography and complex sound design.

Patrick Richard won the Canadian competition for his cellphilm, The Mountain. In one incredible complete take (filmed backwards), Patrick describes his sense of belonging in Montreal.

Alecxis Ramos Pakit and Jianne Soriano won the international competition for their cellphilm, Who am I in Hong Kong? which describes their identities as ethnic minority young women growing up in Hong Kong.

The International Cellphilm Festival is supported by McGill Institute of Human Development and Well Being and the Participatory Cultures Lab. Huge special thanks to Michelle Harazny and Claudia Mitchell for their help with organizing the festival, and to Ashley DeMartini, Toni Nikolantonaki, Hani Sadati, Joshua Schwab-Cartas, Jen Thompson, and Tyler Morency for judging the cellphilm entries.

What's a Cellphilm?.pdf

Claudia Mitchell Named Royal Society of Canada Fellow

rsc_crestThis year the Royal Society of Canada announced 14 new Fellows from McGill University including Dr. Claudia Mitchell, James McGill Professor with the Faculty of Education’s Department of Integrated Studies in Education.

The Royal Society of Canada, established by Parliament in 1882, is the senior national collegium of distinguished scholars, artists and scientists. As Canada’s National Academy, the Society’s primary objective is to promote research and learning in the arts, humanities, and natural and social sciences. The fellowship of the RSC comprises distinguished men and women from all branches of learning who have made remarkable contributions to their respective academic fields, and to Canadian public life.

In their citation for Dr. Mitchell’s fellowship the Royal Society of Canada noted that “Claudia Mitchell’s innovative work in participatory visual research with communities, especially addressing HIV and AIDS and gender violence with youth in sub-Saharan Africa, has democratized the research process so as to promote social change. Her groundbreaking research over two decades, and her acclaimed prolific publications have also led to the establishment of girlhood studies as a crucial new field of action-oriented academic interrogation, and to the furthering of from-the-ground-up policy-making.”

Professor Mitchell is currently Director of the Participatory Cultures Lab, established in 2010. She is Project Manager of the ATTSVE Research Project (Agricultural Training Through Stronger Vocational Education) in Ethiopia, Co-Principal Investigator of the Networks for Change and Well-being Partnership, and Interim Director of the proposed McGill Institute for Human Development and Well-Being. In 2006 Dr. Mitchell founded YAHAnet (Youth, the Arts, HIV & AIDS Network). In addition she is Research Partner with the national Taking Action! project (Art and Aboriginal Youth Leadership for HIV Prevention) and Editor-in-Chief with the journal Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal.

The Royal Society of Canada’s Annual General Meeting is taking place November 26-29 in Victoria.

[read “Royal Society of Canada honours 14 McGill researchers and scholars,” by Meaghan Thurston, McGill Reporter, Sept. 8 2015]