The community of North Preston sits just outside of Halifax and proudly boasts its unique history as the oldest and largest Black community in Canada, with residents tracing their roots back to the Black Loyalists and Jamaican Maroons. In the early 2010s the community saw an upsurge in crime and gun violence. With funding from Public Safety Canada, the Souls Strong program sought to address this issue by reducing risk factors in North Preston’s youth population. The RRC’s evaluation worked closely with management and staff in highlighting the strengths and challenges of the program, and offering recommendations for future program implementation.
Souls Strong was a community-based intervention program implemented by the Halifax Regional Municipality based on the ‘Wraparound’ and ‘Reclaiming our Youth at Risk’ intervention models. The program aimed at reducing risk factors associated with young people becoming involved in criminal and gang related activities, while increasing protective factors associated with enhancing community safety and youth development. The target population was young men 15-20 years old living in North Preston, Nova Scotia.
The evaluation ran from October 2013 to March 2018, and gauged the viability of Souls Strong as an intervention program that prevented youth gang membership, in terms of process, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness. The evaluation included a pre-, mid- and post-test, and a 6-month follow-up design using mixed-methods, and incorporated data from youth, their primary caregivers, program staff and key stakeholders. Given the lack of feasibility in developing a comparison group, the evaluation incorporated the use of the Most Significant Change technique in order to assess program attribution. This technique was centred on gathering staff and stakeholder’s opinions of what they felt had changed the most in their community and program youth since the advent of Souls Strong.
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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.
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 18 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.
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.
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.
Margherita joined the Resilience Research Centre as a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow and the Project Manager for the RYSE project. Following her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Rome La Sapienza (Italy), Margherita received her Ph.D. in Applied Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba (Canada). The overarching goal of Margherita’s program of research is to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable, marginalized and underserved children, families and communities nationally and internationally by fostering their resilience to adversity. So far, her research has focused on various vulnerable populations, including families who experience intimate partner violence, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities. Margherita’s research expertise includes both quantitative and qualitative research approaches, as well as mixed methods research approaches.
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.
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.
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.
Resilience, Adaptive Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice (2021)
Processes of post-war reconstruction, peacebuilding and reconciliation are partly about fostering stability and adaptive capacity across different social systems. Nevertheless, these processes have seldom been expressly discussed within a resilience framework. Similarly, although the goals of transitional justice – among them (re)establishing the rule of law, delivering justice and aiding reconciliation – implicitly encompass a resilience element, transitional justice has not been explicitly theorised as a process for building resilience in communities and societies that have suffered large-scale violence and human rights violations. The chapters in this unique volume theoretically and empirically explore the concept of resilience in diverse societies that have experienced mass violence and human rights abuses. They analyse the extent to which transitional justice processes have – and can – contribute to resilience and how, in so doing, they can foster adaptive peacebuilding. This book is available as Open Access.
Resilience, Adaptive Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice (2021)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Dr. Philip Jefferies is a Senior 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.