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Geography and Environmental Studies


The examination of community adaptation and resilience approaches to address the threats of climate change in rural Ontario is becoming increasingly important in emergency management and preparedness. Community engagement becomes critical in this regard, as local experiences partly influence perceptions of climate change risks within municipalities. Photovoice is a community-based participatory research methodology that empowers participants to document their perceptions and understandings of a particular issue through the use of visual images. This technique was undertaken to understand the impacts of the F3 tornado that hit the community of Goderich, Ontario in 2011 and capture their member’s perceptions on disaster recovery and climate-related threats. For this project, I worked with 10 community photographers to refine themes (n=7) related to the impacts of the extreme event on critical infrastructure as well as community strengths and challenges associated with climate change resilience. My findings indicate that the F3 2011 tornado brought vast hardship to the residents of Goderich of which they still experience five years later and that differing opinions during the recovery process encouraged controversy – hindering some of the social cohesion during rebuild. Despite the community’s fast recovery, certain infrastructure such as banking and businesses remains to be vulnerable to future disaster. Most importantly, optimistic acceptance and positive outlook regarding their perception of community strength and resilience despite losses was an overwhelming theme for the participants in this project.