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Day 4: Dancing Dallaire

March 12, 2013

Day 3: Dancing Dallaire

If you asked me this time last year what I’d be doing on March 12th, you can bet I wouldn’t have told you “Watching Romeo Dallaire do the Harlem Shake.” How things change!

Anyways, kept to my morning schedule of the 7 am gym visit. I ran into (not literally, we were on parallel treadmills) Dalal there. She’s a Research Assistant with the Resilience Centre at Dalhousie and helped prepare the report on Violence that the simulations were based on (at least in part). What’s funny is that she was in the Bluenose Marathon in Halifax last year – and I was actually in Halifax that weekend. So we may have ran into each other before, in some sense! I guess that wasn’t too funny, but you can’t blame me for trying.

Our morning session began with the reframing of the simulations. Instead of focusing on the specific situation we were going to re-enact, we were divided into groups based on our ‘discipline’ or ‘sector’. Youth were a group, as were Service Providers and Policy Makers. Academics were floaters. We were asked how we normally accessed information to help us with challenging situations. The organizers wanted us to distill a common understanding from our experiences and weave it into some kind of role-play situation. We were asked to take one of the recommendations from the report and try to figure out how we would put it into practice as an ‘X’ – in my case, as a ‘youth’. It ended up being more of a discussion than a scenario, as we didn’t get too much into role-playing. But I also felt that being a group of people who were very much the same as me made me more comfortable speaking. At the same time, I missed the diversity of perspectives we had the day before. We talked about the importance of peer networks of support: if I have a problem, I am much more likely to go to a friend or family member I trust than seek out an external program. But anonymity is really important – there are times youth will seek out resources online to avoid being publicly seen at a service centre or something like that.

Then, some of the groups presented their role-plays. I realized how effective the ‘acting’ could be at getting to some crucial ideas, and how much more engaging it was to watch it than to watch a traditional presentation.

After lunch, we divided into different groups based on how we liked to receive information – in written reports (online or otherwise), in person, arts-based ways and social media-faciliated ways. Here, there was more mixing of the different groups and I think that each group brought creativity to how they presented the information they discussed. This is where the Romeo Dallaire dancing the Harlem Shake happened. It was as part of the arts-based communication presentation – actually, it was less like a presentation and more like a series of visual metaphors about important parts of the recommendation they were trying to mobilize. But I really saw how much you can take out of a non-conventional form of communication.


The real question is, and it was something we came to at many points in the day, was that we need a ‘culture shift’ at higher levels – we need funders to recognize that they can’t just fund pilot projects and not provide sustainable funding for projects that actually work; and we need projects that actually work to be judged not just by traditional modes of evaluation, but modes that allow some of the complexity of the challenges that are being addressed to come through.


I think that in the end, the simulation did ‘come together’. It’s definitely a first try, definitely a start. But I think that the energy in the room was good. People were engaged, they were ‘buying into’ the process. I’m curious to follow where it goes from here.

And thanks to you for following along!


One Comment leave one →
  1. Alicia permalink
    March 14, 2013 1:59 am

    You captured this so well!! Love it. I hope it’s okay if I steal some of your wording for my blog (ill quote you). You rock my socks.

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