What is the aim of the research?
From 2009 to 2017, a team, made up of university researchers, community researchers, non-governmental organizations, and youth from various African communities in Winnipeg, has been studying African youths’ experiences as newcomers to Canada and, specifically their experiences within downtown Winnipeg as they navigate sex, sexuality, and sexual health. While the members have changed over the course of the project, we provide a list below of the key members.
While the overarching goal was to better understand the risks they faced of contracting HIV through ‘un-safe’ sexual relations, the project as an anthropological inquiry cast a wide net. We aimed to learn, through ethnographic research, about their settlement experiences as a whole and how many different kinds of risks affected their lives. While most of the youth are from lower income families, we did not focus on economic conditions so much as on social-spatial contexts, including the dynamics of a heterogeneous inner city, as factors that shaped sexuality.
Who are the youth we have worked with?
More than 80 youth have participated in the interviews, focus groups, and ethnographic walk-throughs. They were from a range of backgrounds including different countries (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sudan, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria) religions (Muslim, Christian) ethnic and racial identities, genders, sexualities, and migration trajectories. Most of the youth were heterosexual and cis-gendered. One was transgender. Seven self-identified as queer (two lesbians and five gay men). The length of time in Canada varied from a few days to ten years or so, but the average time in Canada for the large heterogeneous cohort was about four years.
What research methodology
did we use?
The methodology was ethnographic, which meant that the researchers tried to be situated within the everyday lives of the youth, and youth-centered. We conducted interviews, walking ethnography, focus groups, participant observation, and more.
By youth-centered we mean that we aimed to involve youth in all steps of the research process and to approach the research questions from youths’ perspectives. Building capacity was an important objective. We trained youth in research methods: Close to 25 youth from the local communities took place in training workshops and assisted with data collection, such as running focus groups and interview interpretation.
What has been the community involvement?
Youth took charge of several youth-focused events. One of the most important happened near the end of the research. This was an HIV Awareness Community Pop-Up Event in Central Park, Winnipeg, in September 2017, where a team of youth performed theatre games around issues such as stereotypes and silencing around HIV.
Another example is this website, which has been developed by youth. Youth created the name and have contributed photos and stories about their lives in Winnipeg. We provided opportunities for youth to learn about HIV from culturally sensitive sexual health educators at SERC and, in turn, for the youth to share those messages with their peers.
A community researcher with ties to local African newcomer communities as a refugee to Canada from Kenya many years ago and currently as PhD student at the University of Manitoba, Adey Mohamed, has been integral to the project since 2015. She has co-authored research papers and given conference presentations locally, nationally, and internationally based on the research findings (see the list below). We are in the midst of writing up the results for academic publications.
As well, a student research assistant, Francess Amara, from the Sierra Leone community in Winnipeg, is developing this website under a summer internship so that it serves the needs of the youth with whom she has reached out to and made a connection.
My name is Francess Amara and I’m a graduate from the University of Manitoba. I’ve had the opportunity to be part of this amazing project. As an African Canadian living in Winnipeg, it’s been a great pleasure to help create a space where African immigrant and refugee youth in Winnipeg can share their stories and learn together about a healthy sexual health.
Who has funded the research?
We gratefully acknowledge the generous funding from the following funding agencies:
2014-2017. Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Operating Grant, HIV/AIDS Community-Based REsearch Program.
Susan Frohlick, Principal Investigator, UBC Okanagan
Paula Migliardi, Shereen Denetto, Knowledge Users, Sexuality Education Resource Centre.
Robert Lorway (University of Manitoba), Laura Bisaillon (University of Toronto, Scarborough), Co-PIs.
What Risk? Whose Voices? An Intervention of “Risk” of HIV/AIDS through a Participatory Ethnographic Project with African Immigrant and Refugee Youth in Winnipeg, Canada.
2013-2014. Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Cafe Scientifique Program.
Susan Frohlick, Principal Investigator, University of Manitoba
Paula Migliardi, Shereen Denetto, Co-PIs.
‘I always feel Ike they will judge me:’ Why is talking about sex so hard? AFrican Newcomer YOuths’ Voices and Youth Sexual Health.
2010-2011. Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Catalyst Grant, HIV/AIDS Community-Based Research Program.
Susan Frohlick, Principal Investigator, University of Manitoba.
Shereen Denetto, Knowledge User, Sexuality Education Resource Centre.
Engaging Newcomer Communities in Sexual Health Research: Understanding Cultural Factors for HIV Risk Reduction Amongst Immigrant and Refugee Ethno-Racial Youth in Western Canada.
2009-2010. Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Planning Grant, Infection and Immunity.
Susan Frohlick, Principal Investigator, University of Manitoba.
Winnipeg African Refugee/Immigrant Youth and Sexual Health, Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV
In addition, the University of British Columbia has provided additional funding in the form of student research assistantships and travel costs for the PI to visit Winnipeg from 2015 to 2018.
Who are the research partners, collaborators, and team members?
We gratefully acknowledge a whole host of people who have contributed to this project and supported its aims. This is a partial list. We apologize to those we may have inadvertently left off this list. Listed in no particular order:
Sexuality Education Resource Centre, Winnipeg (SERC)
Immigrant and Refugee Community of Manitoba (IRCOM)
Spence Neighbourhood Association
Gohe Ethiopian Restaurant
Red Sea Bar
Abshir Mohamed Farah
1. University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus Syilx Nation Territory
HIV “Risk," Migration, and African Immigrant Youth’s Everyday Lives in Winnipeg
Presenters- Sue Frohlick and Adey Mohamed
March 25, 2016
2. Vancouver - Society for Applied Anthropology annual meetings.
At the Intersection of Community-Based Research and Theories of Sexuality
Presenters - Adey Mohamed and Sue Frohlick
March 26, 2016
3. Winnipeg - The CIIM-IRW Regional Symposium: Migration and Refuge in Western Canada
Being Shafada: Sexuality Research with African Immigrant Youth as a Researcher and Community Member.
October 21-22, 2016
4. Bangkok, Thailand - XI International Association of the Study of Society, Culture, and Sexuality and The College of Public Health Sciences, Chulalongkorn University Conference,
“Breaking Boundaries: Sexuality, Gender, Reproduction, Health and Rights”
At the intersection of community based research and theories of sexuality
Sue Frohlick and Adey Mohamed
July 12-15, 2017
Frohlick, Susan, P. Migliardi, and A. Mohamed. 2018. ‘Only With White Girls:’ Settlement, Spatiality, and Emergent Interracial Sexualities in a Canadian Prairie City, City & Society 30(2): 165-185. https:doi.org/10.1111/cisco.12176
Odger, Allison, S. Frohlick and R. Lorway. (2019) Re-Assembling “Risky” Subject’s: African Migrant Youth in Winnipeg. Canada. Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness 38 (4): 311-326.DOI:10.1080/01459740.2018.1551390
Odger, Allison. 2015. ‘At Risk? Really? I Think Anyone Can Get It:” Biopedagogy, Sexual Health Discourses, and African Newcomer Youth in Canada. MA Thesis. Anthropology Department, University of Manitoba. https://mspace.lib.umanitoba.ca/xmlui/handle/1993/30703
Marmah, Estella. 2017. Social Media, Social Space, and African Newcomer Youth Sexual Subjectivity in Winnipeg, Canada. MA Thesis. Anthropology Department, University of Manitoba.
These three short videos were made in 2014-2015 by a Nigerian researcher, queer person of colour, and international student, Irene Fubara-Manuel, about diverse experiences of being queer and African and a newcomer in Winnipeg. The series is called “You’re New Here.” It was developed out of a research project where Irene and I (Sue Frohlick) first used photovoice methodology with four participants who took photos of their everyday life in Winnipeg using Polaroid cameras. Once the photos were collected, we discussed with them their favourite images as a strategy to explore the meanings they gave to their experiences as queer identified Black African young adults as immigrants and international students forging lives in a new place, where racism and homophobia were prevalent, and against which they struggled, but also a place they found love, hope, and possibility. Then, Irene, an artist and digital media studies student in the Creative and Critical Practice program in the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex, pulled the central story from each of the participants’ interviews and photos into an animated short video.