The Leisure and Tourism laboratory supports research teams and projects that employ survey research, secondary data analysis, field experiments, mixed-method, and qualitative investigations to examine supply and demand of sustainable recreation and tourism, as well as the contributions of leisure to quality of life and well-being.


Primary investigators

Stephanie Chesser, PhD

Stephanie Chesser

Stephanie Chesser’s research situates aging as a continual life course experience. Within her work, she explores how age and other aspects of identity (e.g., gender, race, community membership, family role) shape the leisure experiences, health-related decision-making, and social dynamics of individuals and communities. In recent years, she has investigated such topics as community age-friendliness, university age-friendliness, and family-friendliness within the context of academic training. 

Dan Henwawk, PhD

Dan Henhawk

Dan Henhawk’s work centres on the multiple conceptualizations of leisure and the socio-cultural study of sport and recreation in the Indigenous context. More specifically, he is interested in how leisure contributes to ongoing colonialism and its relationship to notions of decolonization and Indigenization and what this means for notions of sovereignty and self-determination. By extension, this research speaks to the intersections between Indigenous ways of knowing and being and Western knowledge.

Fenton Litwiller, PhD

Fenton Litwiller


Fenton Litwiller is a leisure scholar and Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management. Litwiller’s research program emphasizes the use of critical inquiry to investigate inclusive recreation environments for the health and wellbeing of 2SLGTQ people. Dr. Litwiller's areas of research include: 2SLGTQ, Mental Health, and Gender and Sexuality.


Christine Van Winkle, PhD

Christine Van Winkle

Christine Van Winkle is committed to community-based research examining visitor experiences at events and attractions. As a former festival coordinator and attraction consultant, Dr. Van Winkle brings both practical experience and theory-based research to inform practice. Dr. Van Winkle’s work has been published widely and appears in a range of tourism, leisure and and event journals, books, conference proceedings, and reports.

Overview of current research projects

Dr. Chesser:

COVID-19 and Internalized Ageism Project: Intense worldwide media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has showcased an ageist social discourse that is both prejudicial and dehumanizing to older people. At times, outright hostile ageist sentiments have been expressed, suggesting that older people are not worthy of society's best efforts to protect them from the disease. The ubiquity of such ageist societal messaging is worrisome to senior centres and those who advocate for older people, largely because it could increase individual experiences of internalized ageism (i.e., older adults having negative thoughts about aging and older adults). 

The goal of this SSHRC-funded project is to explore the impacts of COVID-19-related public messaging on internalized ageism among older people. In total, 33 older Manitobans were recruited and asked to complete three interviews, a monthly journaling activity, as well as a survey over a period of six months to measure changes in their expressions of internalized ageism. This project has been partially guided by an advisory working group of older people who are aging-related advocates within their own communities.

Recreation and Personal Care Home Recreation Workers Project: COVID-19 has created barriers for staff seeking to provide recreation opportunities for people living within long-term care, often leading to reductions in the time, breadth, and quality of recreation programming. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine how the pandemic has professionally and personally impacted paid recreation staff (e.g., recreation facilitators, therapeutic recreationists) working within long-term care facilities in Manitoba. Participant interviews were completed during a time when the province had entered its second pandemic wave (November 2020 to February 2021) and, unfortunately, experienced numerous deaths within long-term care.

Dr. Litwiller:

The Gender Project: This project is driven by interrelated research questions about gender, youth, sexuality, and play by connecting 2SLGBTQ youth to a drag performance and genderplay workshop. In the workshop, mentors work with youth to explore gender through make up, movement to music, and costuming. Using critical ethnographic practices to reflect on our social location and impact we observe youth and drag artists in a context where we are intentionally playing with gender expression through drag performance. We investigate how performativity works to replicate social norms, even in the safer space of the drag workshop, and the ways in which youth are able to make new claims to identity and renegotiate precarity.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) measures: The purpose of this project is to gather, test and recommend high quality measures of sexual orientation and gender identity for inclusion in surveys of the general population. Currently, the inability of population level surveys to accurately identify and collect relevant information on LGBTQ2S people has several impacts. First, it is difficult to estimate the size of LGBTQ2S populations in Canada, which makes decision making about resource allocation to programs and services challenging. A lack of empirical documentation of the state of LGBTQ2S people’s lives at a population scale also means that it is harder to estimate the impact of social, economic and health public policy on this population or formulate possible policy solutions to benefit them.

Recreation and Community Development in Manitoba: The project of this project is to interview recreation workers about their use of community development strategies in recreation contexts. In particular, we are working to understand how belonging and inclusion is facilitated so that communities in Manitoba are strengthened and ideas can be shared.

Dr. Van Winkle:

Crisis Communication During a #festival Emergency: This partnership project between The Calian Group, Emergency Management Solutions and Dr. Christine Van Winkle is intended to enhance crisis communication at festivals and events. Specifically, this research will explore how festivals and the public communicate through social media during an on-site emergency. The findings will allow the team to develop crisis communication best practices and training intended for the festival and event industry. A second research project informing this line of research explores the crisis communication plans of festivals across Canada and seeks to understand festival administrators and emergency planners perceptions of crisis communication best practices.

Mobile Device Use During Leisure: Mobile devices are increasingly a part of our daily lives and while much research has examined user acceptance and diffusion of technology in formal workplace settings, research is needed to better understand technology adoption and diffusion in free-choice environments. To better understand factors affecting technology adoption and outcomes of technology use in free-choice contexts, mobile device use at festivals is be examined.

The Highs and Lows of Cannabis Legalization for Festivals: With the recent legalization of Cannabis across Canada there is a need to better understand the implications for festivals. Many stakeholders will be affected by this social change including attendees, volunteers, vendors, funders and staff.

Graduate students

Dr. Litwiller:
Christina Parsons - M.A. student
Robyn Burns - Research Assistant

Dr. Van Winkle:
Jill Bueddefeld - PhD, Environment and Geography
Kiri Shafto - PhD, Applied Health Sciences
Courtney Gabrielle - M.A., Kinesiology and Recreation Management
Farnoosh Niroo - M.A. Kinesiology and Recreation Management
Tatiana Palacia Ceron - M.A., Kinesiology and Recreation Management


Dr. Chesser:

Chesser, S. A., Porter, M. M., Barclay, R., King, A. C., Menec, V. H., Ripat, J., ... & Webber, S. C. (2020). Exploring university age-friendliness using collaborative citizen science. The Gerontologist, 60(8), 1527-1537.

Chesser, S., Porter, M. M., & Tuckett, A. G. (2020). Cultivating citizen science for all: Ethical considerations for research projects involving diverse and marginalized populations. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 23(5), 497-508.

Chesser, S., Parry, D., & Penny Light, T. (2019). Nurturing the erotic self: Benefits of women consuming sexually explicit materials. Sexualities, 22(7-8), 1234-1252.

Chesser, S. (2015). Intersection of family, work and leisure during academic training. Annals of Leisure Research, 18(3), 308-322. 

Dr. Litwiller:

Dr. Henhawk:

Diversi, M., & Henhawk, D. (2012).  Indigenous qualitative inquiry: (Re) Awakening, together, from a long colonizing slumber. International Review of Qualitative Research, 5(1), 51-72. 

Henhawk, D.A. (Winter 2013).  My critical awakening: A process of struggles and decolonizing hope. International Review of Qualitative Research, 6(4), 510-525.

Dr. Van Winkle:

Van Winkle, C. M., Bueddefeld, J. N., Halpenny, E. A., & MacKay, K. J. (2019). The unified theory of acceptance and use of technology 2: understanding mobile device use at festivals. Leisure Studies, 1-17.

Van Winkle, C.M., Halpenny, E., MacKay, K. (2019). Information & communication technology and the festival experience. Routledge Handbook of Festivals.

Van Winkle, C. M., & Bueddefeld, J. N. (2016). Service-dominant logic and the festival experience. International Journal of Event and Festival Management, 7(3), 237-254.