A photovoice approach was used to enable homeless and precariously housed people to speak, through their photographs and narratives, to the community at large about their housing conditions and the effects on their health. Photographs from participants in three communities—one of European origin and two First Nations in northern Ontario, Canada—were provided with cameras. The comparison of remote Indigenous and urban communities makes this study unique. The photographs and narratives reveal similarities in their housing conditions and living circumstances. Each photograph tells its own story about couch surfing, sleeping rough, overcrowding, and substandard or inadequate housing. Notwithstanding their cultural, linguistic and geographic differences, the participants identified common themes in their photographs and narratives. This allowed for a comparison of understandings regarding the negative impacts of housing on their physical and mental health. The findings from this arts-based project are similar to results of medical studies on the effects of poverty and housing on health. An art based approach through photovoice can be a powerful tool to sensitise both health professionals working with this population and the larger community to such issues, and it can enhance the possibilities for social transformation based on social justice. The arts become a tool in the struggle for social justice by revealing hidden aspects of life at the margins, the living conditions of poor and homeless people. A photo exhibit will tour galleries in the three communities.
|Keywords:||Photovoice, Homelessness, Health|
Professor, Department of Law and Justice, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Professor, School of Social Work, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Lecturer, Department of Arts, Culture and Media, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada