Dec. 5, 2023

Creative technologies exhibit shows anti-racist world through newcomer-youth eyes

Youth and Anti-Racism Integration Collective hosts final exhibit in mid-December
An illistration of two women and two childern walking together
An Illustration from one of YARI-Collective's animations entitled Story of Two Sisters. Animated by Santanu Dutta and narrated by Megha Sanyal. Santanu Dutta

A University of Calgary-supported community-centred research project to help newcomer youths of colour find a sense of belonging through art, cinema, code and other creative technologies, will be hosting what may be its final exhibit later this month.

The Youth and Anti-Racism Integration Collective (YARI-Collective) works with 21 immigrant and refugee youths ages 14 to 24 and helps the public to learn, through youth-led artistic and technological installations, the true meaning of anti-racism by illustrating, literally, the challenges newcomers have faced in order to get where they are today, as well as their hopes and solidarities. The program has been funded by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada.

The projects showcased in the YARI-Collective installations have been co-designed by the youths alongside graduate students and researchers from Learning Sciences, Computer Science, Sociology and Environmental Science at UCalgary, under the guidance of Dr. Pratim Sengupta and Dr. Pallavi Banerjee.

“These projects are really showcasing their stories of experiences of being racialized, experiences of trying to belong to a new society, trying to escape from war, trying to escape from conditions of violence that they had to experience as children in their homelands, and, at the same time, these stories are also revealing the hope and joy and solidarity that they have found and they are in search of,” says Sengupta, PhD, professor of learning sciences and STEM education at Werklund School of Education and co-principal investigator for the YARI-Collective.

A group of youth sitting on the sidewalk creating art work.

Pallavi Banerjee and youth creating art in the garden.

Pallavi Banerjee and Pratim Sengupta

This exhibit, which takes place Dec 17 at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, will present computer simulations, murals, documentaries and short films, including stop-motion and other animation. Since the previous show in March, the youths, in collaboration with graduate students, also built and grew a community garden over the summer and a film on this will also be shown.

After cautious beginnings, the youth have created strong bonds to the rest of the team as well as to their work, says Banerjee, PhD, associate professor of sociology in the Faculty of Arts, research excellence chair and principal investigator with the YARI-Collective.

“We now see a very deep engagement with us and the researchers who they now consider friends, but also with the work they are doing and what they want to showcase,” says Banerjee. “They are very intentional and mindful about what they want to tell the world.”

With funding for the two-year project soon ending, the team is now searching for new funding methods to continue the program but add that, regardless of funding status, the relationships established by YARI-Collective will endure.

“We will continue collaborating with these youths in some form or the other; that’s really meaningful for them, and also because it is really difficult for us to part ways with them,” says Sengupta.

Youth working in the garden

Youth working in the garden.

Pratim Sengupta and Pallavi Banerjee

The team also hopes their research into anti-racism helps inform policy on campus. Already, the youths have been able to speak in classrooms and teach UCalgary students about anti-racism. The hope is that the university recognizes the meaningful impact of these messages and enacts policies that will help newcomer youth as they enter the university setting.

Meanwhile, a goal of the upcoming exhibit is to help open attendees’ minds to how they define anti-racism.

“We have been changed by working with the youths,” says Banerjee. “We have realized our own frailties … thinking about how we, as people who do research in very colonial setups, often tend to not see people who we don’t think of as researchers … we have, as researchers, come a long way in forging this collaboration. And I think whoever comes to this space will be transformed and changed by this space.”

Community partner organizations supporting the exhibit include Calgary Catholic Immigration SocietyCalgary Immigrant Women's AssociationCalgary Bridge Foundation for Youth and Centre for Newcomers.

The installation is open from 2 to 6 p.m. on Dec 17 in the foyer of the Taylor Institute. Admission is free, but registration is required.

If you are interested in contributing funding for the YARI-Collective, you can reach Pratim Sengupta and Pallavi Banerjee via their emails: and

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