Aboriginal children's perceptions of their urban living environments

Thumbnail Image
Farris, Jillian
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Contemporary research in the field of child and youth study continues to examine the experiences of children living within urban environments. This research has tended to examine challenges to child development present within city living, such as freedom of movement and mobility, use of built space, and safety concerns related to strangers. A recent trend within this research has been the increased inclusion of children's voices and perspectives in discussions related to the planning of urban environments, and of municipal programs and services for children and their families. Lacking within recent study, however, has been the inclusion of the perceptions of urban Aboriginal children related to their lived experiences within Canadian urban centres. Given the historical context in which this population exists, as well as the contemporary context including, a relatively young, growing population, increased urbanization and high birth rates, it is apparent that a consideration of the place and space available to Aboriginal children within cities is of growing concern and significance. The present research, utilizing qualitative inquiry, elicited the views and perspectives of Aboriginal children currently residing within the Halifax Regional Municipality, for the purpose of exploring, discovering, and understanding their perceptions of their outdoor living environments. Individual, semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven children of various First Nation affiliations, between the ages of 8-12 years. Children were given personal, single-use cameras to document their neighbourhoods and outdoor experiences over the course of one week. Photographs were used during individual interviews as a resource for children to describe their thoughts, feelings, meanings and understandings related to their daily living experiences. Interviews were audio-taped and collected data were transcribed and analyzed using systematic, cross-comparative methods that resulted in the identification of four major organizing categories: Neighbourhood Characteristics; Neighbourhood Activities; Neighbourhood Safety; and Neighbourhood Mobility. Recommendations are presented for future research, parents and families, child and youth care providers, governments, and community planners and developers.
Indigenous children , Halifax , Micmac Indians