Resilience Research Centre

Research Sites

Research Sites

There are 14 original research sites participating in the study. Each research site was selected for the diversity it brought to understanding children and youth in high-risk environments. The following are links to information on each research site and results from the first phase of the research:

Canadian Sites

Sheshatshui, Labrador

In addition to poverty, high rates of unemployment, and isolation as a community, the Innu youth of Labrador have among the highest rates of suicide in the world; suicide is the leading cause of death for youth in Sheshatshiu. Media attention has focused on widespread and increasing addiction to solvents among the youth of Sheshatshiu (Context and risk factors provided by IRP site partners, the Sheshatshiu Innu Band Council). Parental neglect, family violence, crime, smoking, and health problems are also above national norms for youth (Sheshatshiu: An Innu community’s battle with addiction. CBC News Online, Dec. 14, 2004, from CBC Website). Despite these risks, youth (with support from their community and elders) are increasingly taking control of their rights and their futures. They are raising their voices to decry environmental atrocities by multinational corporations and government, to fight for self-determination, and to insist that their culture be brought back into community events.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Youth in Halifax experience marginalization, discrimination, and violence due to sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and gender. Other threats that youth endure include: mental, emotional, and physical health problems; problems in school; inclusion in criminal activities; homelessness; childhood traumas (such as physical, mental, and sexual abuse); parental alcoholism and drug addiction; personal addiction to alcohol and drugs; early sexual behavior; and poverty (Risk factors and context information provided by the IRP site partners).

Winnipeg, Manitoba (2 Locations)

Youth in Winnipeg experience marginalization, discrimination, and violence due to sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and gender. Other threats that youth endure include: mental, emotional, and physical health problems; problems in school; inclusion in criminal activities; homelessness; childhood traumas (such as physical, mental, and sexual abuse); parental alcoholism and drug addiction; personal addiction to alcohol and drugs; early sexual behavior; and poverty (Risk factors and context information provided by the IRP site partners).

International Sites

Banjul, The Gambia

Approximately 69% of the population in The Gambia lives below the poverty line (Gambia At A Glance. Unicef. Retrieved from Unicef Website November 6, 2005 from Website). Unemployment and underemployment rates are extremely high and the country relies heavily on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid (The Gambia Demographics. GE World Source. Retrieved November 6, 2005 from GE World Source Website). Other risks faced by youth in The Gambia include poverty, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, barriers to school enrollment (particularly for girls), early marriages, and teen pregnancy.

Cape Town, South Africa

Since the end of Apartheid, the government has taken steps to improve basic services; but health, housing, education, sanitation, and access to potable water pose challenges for youth. Vast disparities exist between the rich and the poor in the city, with inequalities falling largely along racial lines (South Africa At a Glance. Unicef. Retrieved November 3, 2005, from Unicef Website (2005)). Other risk factors faced by youth in this setting include: weakening traditional, social, and extended family support systems; a dislocation between generations; gender inequality; violence; drug-related gangs; crime; and HIV/AIDS (Risk factors and context information provided by IRP site partner, Quinton Adams, at Stellenbosch University, South Africa). Nonetheless, youth in Cape Town reported feeling a sense of hope that they could rebuild their communities and successfully find employment.

East Jerusalem, Palestinian Occupied Territories

After five years of the Intifada (Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation), unemployment has skyrocketed – with a total unemployment rate of 70% in the Gaza Strip and 60% in the West Bank. Since the beginning of the Intifada, more than 500 Palestinian children have been killed and 9,000 have been injured and are living with disabilities. Primary and secondary health care centers lack equipment and medical staff are subject to enforced restrictions. Many children exhibit signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which affects their ability to cope with continuing major life stressors. Daily adversities faced by youth include death and injury to family and friends, crime, poverty, malnutrition, frustration and few, imposed curfews, and home confinement (Palestinian Occupied Territories At a Glance. Unicef. Retrieved November 3, 2005 from Unicef Website).

Hong Kong, China

China, and in particular Hong Kong, has undergone sweeping demographic and social change in recent decades, and much of it has affected youth. Despite this, the Government does not have a consistent policy focusing on youth development. Enrollment levels in schools have skyrocketed; and researchers are now beginning to see the effects of stress related to school pressures in youth. Youth are choosing to marry later, but engage in sexual activity earlier. As a result, the number of abortions in Hong Kong is increasing. Other risks that youth in Hong Kong face include mental health problems and suicide, obesity and eating disorders, crime, drug abuse, and depleted health due to smoking (Risk factors obtained from: Yip, Teem-Wing (October, 2000). A sustained commitment towards youth in Hong Kong: A policy to meet their needs, acknowledge their worth and enrich their lives. Retrieved November 6, 2005 from Website [OUTDATED LINK REMOVED]).

Imphal, India

Manipur has been plagued by insurgency for five decades and has been in violation of human rights across all spheres of industry and government. School children and college students routinely join, or are ironically forced to join, joint action committees protesting violations of human rights. Youth have come to accept violence as a part of their lives, and it is standard procedure to demand compensation money from the government for lives lost. As a result, youth are vulnerable to high-risk behaviors as drug users or as non-state actors in revolutionary movement(s) (All context information, risk factors and statistics provided by IRP site partners Don Bosco and Dr. Irene Salam-Singh, Department of History, Manipur University, India). Imphal provides access to children and youth living in poverty, coping with an economy in transition and confronted by sectarian violence.

Medellín, Colombia

Medellin houses one the most sophisticated drug trafficking operations in the world and has been the victim of its influence (experiencing corruption, violence, insecurity, murder ing of public leaders and policemen). But perhaps the most important heritage left by drug traffickers is a dramatic change in attitudes, practices, and laws and social norms respected in the community. Increasing inequity in Medellin over the past two decades is an important factor influencing social dynamics. Some of the adversities experienced by youth in Medellin include violence, kidnapping, corruption, lack of working opportunities, unequal access to health and higher education, domestic violence, increasing unwanted adolescent pregnancy, and weak social support (Context information and risk factors obtained from IRP Site Partners in Colombia).

Moscow, Russia

Russia has no national youth policy. In 2004, over 500,000 children were in state-care, attributed in part to alarming domestic violence rates, increased abandonment, and orphaning. In Moscow, thousands of youth are homeless and vulnerable to exploitation and prostitution. HIV/AIDS is a rapidly growing epidemic, but the actual number of individuals infected is unknown due to stigmatization (Russian Federation Background. Unicef. Retrieved from Unicef Website). Other risk factors faced by youth in Moscow include: poor health and communicable diseases, sexual and physical violence, high rates of suicide, and malnutrition. Despite cultural, political, and economic disintegration in Moscow, the IRP learned that youth have relied on persistence and consistency to achieve their goals and overcome adversity (Context and risk factors provided by IRP site partners at the Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia).

Moshi, Tanzania

Currently, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a crisis in Tanzania and has orphaned an estimated two-million children (At a glance: United Republic of Tanzania. Unicef, Retrieved November 3, 2005 from Unicef Website). Stigma and denial around the disease create further challenges for youth. Other key adversities in this setting include: poverty, malnutrition, gender-based practices, low quality of education, and inadequate health and social services (Risk factors and context information provided by Project Children’s Rights Trust, Tanzania). Many children are being supported by single parents and by grandparents due to divorce, separation, and loss of parents due to HIV/AIDS.

Tampa, Florida

The city of Tampa ranks 25th in the USA as one of the least safe cities, based on crime statistics (Risk factors and context information provided by IRP site partners at the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute). Vehicle theft, rapes, robbery, and aggravated assault are common. The number of children and teens killed by fi rearms in Florida in 2003 was 137, which included 86 homicides, 43 suicides, 4 accidents, and 4 of unknown intent (Florida Crime Index Rates Per 100,000 Inhabitants. The Disaster Center. Retrieved November 6, 2005 from The Disaster Center Website). Other key adversities faced by Florida youth include: mental, physical, and emotional challenges; parental neglect and abuse; and drug abuse.

Tel Aviv, Israel

Despite a flourishing economy for some sectors in the city, populations living outside of the city are often marginalized and economically depressed. The proportion of children living in poverty has increased steadily, with approximately 25% of Israeli children living below the poverty line (Major Issues Facing Children and Young People in Israel. International Youth Foundation. Retrieved November 3, 2005 from International Youth Foundation Website). The issues faced by youth in Tel Aviv include poverty, child abuse and neglect, educational difficulties, and marginalization. Perhaps most pressing is the central-role that war and conflict play in the lives of Israeli youth. The effects are paramount to youth well being; many children in Israel show symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Context and risk factors provided by IRP site partner Zahava Solomon, School of Social Work, Tel Aviv University, Israel).

New sites are constantly joining the project. The map below shows the areas in which the research is being replicated:


Use the buttons below to navigate through our books & special issues, book chapters and peer reviewed journal articles.

Books & Special Issues

Book Chapters

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Daniel Blais

Research Assistant

Daniel Blais is a research and evaluation associate with the Resilience Research Centre and Wisdom2Action network. With an interest in cultural sociology and a background in youth care and advocacy, Blais has an interest in program evaluation that applies mixed methods research and evidence-based practices. While completing the written requirement for an MA in Sociology (forthcoming) from York University on the topic of professionalization, Daniel has worked with the RRC-ETI and W2A on projects focusing on youth program evaluation, public policy development, opioid addictions, and youth resilience.

Chantale Comeau

Research Assistant

Chantale Comeau received a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Criminology from Saint Mary’s University, and has completed a Master of Arts in Criminology & Sociolegal Studies at the University of Toronto set to graduate in November 2018. Chantale will be returning to school to pursue a Masters in Public Administration at Dalhousie University in efforts to obtain the skills necessary for a career in justice policy.

Igor Pekelny

Research Assistant

Igor Pekelny is a research associate at the Resilience Research Centre, Dalhousie University and the Sociology/Criminology Department, Saint Mary’s University, with experience in mixed methods project evaluation, online survey design and implementation, and crime prevention program design and management. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology (Magna Cum Laude) and Psychology (Magna Cum Laude) and now pursuing his Master of Arts in Criminology, all from Saint Mary’s University.

Marlee Jordan

Research Assistant

Marlee Jordan has an academic background in Criminology; she received a BA (Honours) and MA from Saint Mary’s University with the majority of her work focusing on the forensic mental health population. Her MA thesis was written on experiences in supported housing of people found Not Criminally Responsible in Halifax, N.S. Her other research interests include community-based services for people with mental health issues, addictions, and criminal justice involvement; youth education internationally, and community development. She is currently focused on gaining experience in research and program evaluation, otherwise she can be found hiking with her dogs, reading, or planning her next big trip.

Rena Vanstone

Research Assistant

Rena Vanstone is a research assistant at the Resilience Research Centre. She is currently completing an Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Sociology at Dalhousie, with minors in Psychology and English. Her research interests include youth resilience and wellbeing, as well as arts-based methodology and interventions.

Brandon Mott

Communications Support

Brandon promotes content, shares stories, and facilitates conversation through audio visuals, event planning, and graphic design.  Brandon Mott is a communications specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the policy and research world, most notably at the Resilience Research Centre under the direction of Dr. Michael Ungar. Brandon is known for his knowledge sharing skills; crafting thoughts and ideas into digestible content. His degree in music marks a dedication to refining craft and an emphasized attention on creative detailing. This keen focus helps polish multimedia products, as seen in any of the numerous videos, reports, and websites he has produced.

Chase Kodejs

Communications Specialist

Chase combines his creativity and technical skills to produce digestible content for websites, social media and events, while adhering to Resilience Research Center’s brand strategy. Chase Kodejs is a communications specialist with a demonstrated history of facilitating projects in the private sector with numerous firms. A keen focus and desire to learn allows Chase to continue to be up to date with latest digital trends and deliver products that are refined for the end user.

Jan Höltge

Visiting Scholar

Jan Höltge is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Resilience Research Centre. Jan completed both his Bachelor in Psychology and Master in Environmental, Social and Clinical Psychology at the University of Vienna, Austria. He received his Ph.D. in Clinical and Positive Psychology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He has joined the Resilience Research Centre supported by the Early Postdoc.Mobility Scholarship granted by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Jan is passionately interested in how stressful circumstances can have positive effects on human life, especially resilience-enhancement, ranging from daily hassles to traumatic experiences. While taking a lifespan perspective, he has a focus on higher age, the long-term effects of early life stress and the positive effects of collective adversities on social values and behaviors. Additionally, he is interested in how the physical environment contributes to human resilience and wellbeing.

Haorui Wu

Research Fellow

Dr. Haorui Wu is Assistant Professor of Social Work and a research fellow in the Resilience Research Center at Dalhousie University.  His architecture-based interdisciplinary teaching, research, and emerging practice examine post-disaster reconstruction, recovery, and rehabilitation initiatives through the lens of environmental and social justice. He seeks to employ community-engaged planning and architectural strategies to strengthen built environment social missions, build social capital, enhance overall well-being, and advance community resilience in the context of global climate change, disaster, and other world crises. His research consists of (1) empowering local residents’ (especially the vulnerable and marginalized groups) leadership and supporting holistic well-being by advancing non-discriminatory civic engagement in community-based planning and architecture design; and (2) enhancing the humanitarian quality of post-disaster built environment to support community resilience and sustainability.

Paul McGuinness

Operations Manager

Paul McGuinness is the Operations Manager for the Resilience Research Centre (RRC). Paul has an extensive corporate background in Information Technology, Administration, Finance and Business Development. Paul provides leadership and operational management of the RRC and is a key interaction point between the RRC and internal and external grant and management programs. The Research Operations Manager works collaboratively with all university departments, building and maintaining strategic working relationships in the administration of internal schemes, as well as maintaining a network of external stakeholders to support national and international competitive and contract research opportunities.

Kathleen Murphy

Project Manager (RYSE)

Kathleen is the Project Manager for the RYSE Project based at the Resilience Research Centre. Kathleen has a diverse array of research, programmatic, policy, and project management experience, having worked in the area of positive parenting interventions, youth mental health, artificial intelligence and health, and Indigenous health research. She has a Biology degree from St. Francis Xavier University, and received her Master of Public Health at the University of Toronto, specializing in health promotion and public health policy. Her work has been local, national, and international in scope.

Simone Chia-Kangata

Project Manager (CYRRC)

Simone Chia-Kangata joined the CYRRC as Project Manager in May 2017. Simone brings expertise in research and evaluation, project design, implementation and management, business management, knowledge mobilization and marketing. Simone has a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Public Administration from Concordia University and a Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from McGill University. She has worked in the public sector and NGO sector in Ottawa, the UK, Kenya, Somaliland and Nova Scotia.

Sara Al-Gashm

Evaluation Manager

Sara Al-Gashm manages evaluation projects at the Resilience Research Centre at a national and international level, which integrate both quantitative and quasi-experimental pre and post-test methodology as well as qualitative methods. She brings interdisciplinary and cross-national training and experience to her position, along with an extensive research background in health and wellbeing across the lifespan. Sara received a Master’s degree in Global Health from McMaster University and a Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from Dalhousie University. She was granted the title of Leading First-Class Honours Student and is the recipient of the University Silver Medal from Dalhousie University. Sara holds publications in The Lancet and the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. She is fluent in three languages: English, Arabic and Tagalog. Her interests include monitoring and evaluation, results-based management, participatory research methods, and qualitative research.

Michael Ungar


Michael Ungar, Ph.D. is the founder and Director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University. His ground-breaking work as a family therapist and resilience researcher is recognized around the world, with much of that work focused on the resilience of marginalized children and families, and adult populations experiencing mental health challenges at home and in the workplace. Dr. Ungar has provided consultation and training to Fortune 500 companies like Unilever and Cigna, NGOs such as Save The Children and the Red Cross, and educational institutions and government agencies on five continents. He is routinely called upon by thought leaders such as the Boston Consulting Group and Canvas8. His work emphasizes how to use the theory of resilience to increase both individual and institutional agility during crises, with numerous organizations having adopted his concept of resilience as a negotiated process that enhances wellbeing and social responsibility.

Dr. Ungar is the author of 16 books for lay and professional audiences, and over 200 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. These include Change Your World: The Science of Resilience and the True Path to Success, a book for adults experiencing stress at work and at home, and I Still Love You: Nine Things Trouble Teens Need from their Parents. His blog, Nurturing Resilience, can be read on Psychology Today’s website.

Philip Jefferies

Research Fellow

Dr. Philip Jefferies is a research fellow at the Resilience Research Centre. Following his PhD and teaching/research posts in the UK, Ireland, and Fiji, Phil joined the Centre to support the RYSE project. He now conducts resilience research with challenged populations around the world to understand how some do well despite adversity, and helped to develop the Centre’s evidence-based resilience building intervention ‘R2’, which is now used by organisations worldwide.