Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Something out of Nothing? Place-based Resilience in Rural Canadian Youth
This dissertation explored how rural communities enhance the capacity of youth to both navigate and negotiate healthy identities and well-being in the context of social ecological resilience. Resilience refers to the capacity for individuals to have good outcomes in spite of exposure to significant adversity. Rural communities are often identified as places of deficit both in scholarly literature and in general social discourse which can constitute adversity. Given the importance of place as a social determinant of health, rural communities can have a notable impact on the positive development of adolescent identity and well-being of the youth that reside within them. Drawing on the concept of social ecological resilience which draws attention to the importance of environments and relationships to support development, this project engaged with high school aged adolescents (14 to 18 years old) from Haliburton County in Central Ontario. Leveraging mixed model methods, the project featured both quantitative and qualitative approaches. There were 63 participants (33 male, 28 female and 2 non-binary) for the quantitative phase of the research which made use of the Child and Youth Resilience Measure survey instrument. The second phase of the research was qualitative and featured 14 participants who engaged in six focus groups. The focus groups provided context specific awareness of place-based factors which participants found supportive in their development. The results indicated that while the overall resilience scores for the community were lower than the national average (t(62) = 3.20, p <0.01), some study participants found the community to be resilience bolstering. Specifically, participants recognized the importance of supportive people, an awareness of an enriched sense of community, and a powerful sense of the value of nature and the outdoors to be the most significant aspects for the development of their resilience. The results indicate that rural youth are not naïve to the complexity of their circumstances but are able to use their rural contexts to develop the capacity to negotiate and navigate towards healthy identities and well-being. Author Keywords: Adolescent, Place-based, Resilience, Rural, Social Ecological, Youth

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