Product at a Glance - Product ID#JTDLMRCB
Title: Join the Conversation! Joignez-vous à la discussion! Ne àwok làgà! Pi-Kakeekiton! Pe-mamiskota kista! Ne àwok nàgà! Nuhÿhel yanÿåti horîåæîh dé, nÿba hoæâ si t'óho lósí!
Abstract: It is well understood from lived experience and research that peoples’ stories are their identities. The commonly recognized story of Aboriginal peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) in Canada highlights the impacts of colonization on traditional ways of life, including multi-generational losses of cultural practices, language and land. A part of this story is the problematic use of substances resulting from colonial government practices, such as residential schools. Grounded in Indigenous (1, 2) and community-based approaches (3, 4) to knowledge gathering, our team produced a DVD and accompanying Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet to share individuals’ inspirational yet historically silenced stories about the role of Aboriginal culture in healing from addictions. The goal for these stories, in the form of these products, is to serve as a catalyst for a strength-based provincial conversation (i.e., exchange of knowledge) in Saskatchewan, Canada about Aboriginal culture and the importance of re-claiming a healthy sense of self for continued wellbeing. Nearly 5,000 product packages have been distributed to individuals, communities and organizations at no cost and the majority of the stories are also available on our website. Community Ambassadors have worked to gather the stories and facilitate the conversation throughout the project through community events, organizations and virtual spaces. Feedback to date has relayed that the stories are being used in multiple ways, among diverse audiences, and are having their intended impact.
Type of Product: DVD
Year Created: 2012
Date Published: 1/21/2013
University of Saskatchewan
Department of Sociology & School of Public Health
9 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK S7N5A5
Authors (listed in order of authorship):
Colleen Anne Dell
Elder Campbell Papequash
Special Product Ordering Instructions
In rare cases submitted products may not be in formats that the user can download from CES4Health.info or
access from a website linked to from CES4Health.info. In these cases the author would supply the product to the user directly
or the author would provide ordering instructions. Does this situation apply to your product?
If yes, should users contact you directly to obtain a copy of the product?
If users should not contact you directly to obtain your product (i.e. they should contact a publisher or other source),
please provide detailed instructions on how the users may obtain your product.
Is there a PRINTING, PRODUCTION OR MAILING fee required to obtain your product?
Product Description and Application Narrative Submitted by Corresponding Author
What general topics does your product address?
Public Health, Social & Behavioral Sciences
What specific topics does your product address?
Community engagement, Community health , Cultural competency , Health services research, Community-based participatory research
Does your product focus on a specific population(s)?
American Indian/Alaska Native
What methodological approaches were used in the development of your product, or are discussed in your product?
What resource type(s) best describe(s) your product?
Documentary, Faculty development materials, Training material
1. Please provide a 1600 character abstract describing your product, its intended use and the audiences for which it would be appropriate.*
It is well understood from lived experience and research that peoples’ stories are their identities. The commonly recognized story of Aboriginal peoples (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) in Canada highlights the impacts of colonization on traditional ways of life, including multi-generational losses of cultural practices, language and land. A part of this story is the problematic use of substances resulting from colonial government practices, such as residential schools. Grounded in Indigenous (1, 2) and community-based approaches (3, 4) to knowledge gathering, our team produced a DVD and accompanying Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet to share individuals’ inspirational yet historically silenced stories about the role of Aboriginal culture in healing from addictions. The goal for these stories, in the form of these products, is to serve as a catalyst for a strength-based provincial conversation (i.e., exchange of knowledge) in Saskatchewan, Canada about Aboriginal culture and the importance of re-claiming a healthy sense of self for continued wellbeing. Nearly 5,000 product packages have been distributed to individuals, communities and organizations at no cost and the majority of the stories are also available on our website. Community Ambassadors have worked to gather the stories and facilitate the conversation throughout the project through community events, organizations and virtual spaces. Feedback to date has relayed that the stories are being used in multiple ways, among diverse audiences, and are having their intended impact.
2. What are the goals of the product?
Saskatchewan has the second highest proportion of Aboriginal peoples of the provinces and territories in Canada. Nearly 142,000 people self-identified as Aboriginal in the 2006 Canadian census (5). Saskatchewan is also the site of the longest standing government-run residential school, Gordon Residential School, which closed its doors in 1996. The Indian Act sanctioned colonial policies that criminalized traditional Aboriginal cultural practices and ceremonies, affected peoples’ overall health and wellness and contributed to “high rates of addiction, poverty, poor social and economic structures, violence, unemployment, crowded living conditions and family breakdown” (5, p. 113). To illustrate, between 1999 and 2004, over 25,000 adults were under correctional supervision in Saskatchewan and 57% of these adults self-identified as Aboriginal. At the time, Aboriginal people comprised only 10 % of Saskatchewan’s adult population.
Since the 1960s, there has been a re-claiming of cultural practices and ceremonies amongst Aboriginal peoples (7). There has also been a growing (albeit still limited) discussion about the role Aboriginal culture plays in peoples’ healing journeys among addictions service providers, researchers and Aboriginal peoples themselves on their healing journeys (7, 8, 9, 10).
The goal of the DVD and accompanying Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet is to share individuals’ stories about the role of Aboriginal culture in healing from addictions and serve as a catalyst for a strength-based provincial conversation primarily involving Aboriginal peoples healing from addictions and individuals working with them. Ultimately, the conversation is intended to positively influence individuals’ healing journeys and to inform Aboriginal health policy, programming and research. It not the goal of this project to document sacred, traditional Indigenous knowledge, and this was identified to all participants before they shared their stories.
With this project grounded in community-based approaches to knowledge gathering (which stress community involvement and benefits) and Indigenous approaches (which emphasize reciprocity between Indigenous communities and academic researchers), an associated goal of the project is to engage in a respectful and reciprocal process of sharing the product with individuals and communities who originally shared their stories. The products are an offering to individuals and communities in recognition of their valuable contributions.
3. Who are the intended audiences or expected users of the product?
The DVD and accompanying Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet is intended for Aboriginal peoples (adults and youth) healing from addictions and people working directly and indirectly with these populations in Saskatchewan. This includes: addiction service providers, traditional cultural practitioners, health care workers, as well as those working in health policy related to the problematic use of alcohol, drugs and other substances. To date, we have distributed nearly 5,000 products amongst these groups. In addition, some distribution efforts have strategically targeted the general populace (mostly people of European-descent) within Saskatchewan. It is important for knowledge to be exchanged with this population in order to combat systemic racism and discrimination against Aboriginal peoples.
4. Please provide any special instructions for successful use of the product, if necessary. If your product has been previously published, please provide the appropriate citation below.
Each product package includes a DVD, Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet. The DVD can be used in a DVD player to view people’s stories in video and artwork form or in a computer to view the stories as well as read written responses. The Journey Magnet was created in the spirit of word poetry. Eight words are available to complete the sentence: “____ culture helps me, or someone I know, in healing from additions”, and 80 words are available to complete the sentence: “____ is/are meaningful to the journey”. The Exercise Sheet outlines ways individuals and groups can use the magnet. The suggested exercises link to the DVD and Elder Campbell Papequash’s Medicine Wheel Teachings. All three products inform individuals of ways they can contribute to the conversation.
5. Please describe how your product or the project that resulted in the product builds on a relevant field, discipline or prior work. You may cite the literature and provide a bibliography in the next question if appropriate.
Our products were developed in recognition of the latest empirical understanding in the fields of addiction, Aboriginal healing, health and wellness, and storytelling as knowledge gathering and exchange. Our team members’ knowledge that was gained from the literature and for some through lived experience (e.g., treatment experience) contributed to all aspects of the project.
The health consequences of problematic alcohol and drug use are of priority concern for Aboriginal communities and leadership in Canada (7, 8, 9). For example, in Phase II of the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey alcohol and drug abuse was identified as the number one challenge to on-reserve community wellness (83%) (10). The high rate of addictions among Aboriginal peoples in Canada has been directly linked to colonial policies and practices, such as the Indian Act, and the racism Aboriginal peoples continue to face in Canadian society (11, 12).
It is well recognized that Indigenous traditional culture is a key component of individual and community health (13, 14, 15). Wellness is envisioned by First Nations, Métis and Inuit people as situated within “a complex web of relationships between people and their environments, with traditions teaching people how to live in balance, care for themselves and others, and restore balance when it is lost” (7, 16, 17, 18). Central to health and wellness is individual and communal self-identity (19).
Storytelling is fundamental to Indigenous cultures and is a form of knowledge gathering and knowledge exchange (20, 21). Stories also have the potential to enact change. Roberts reflects on the impact that research had on her within her own community: “[t]he stories they shared were heart wrenching, illuminating, and profound and have forever changed me, both as a person and as a researcher” (22). This understanding is in line with what Smith refers to as decolonizing methodologies (23). These research methodologies are rooted in Indigenous knowledge, which first and foremost “involves reclamation of Indigenous history and culture and its dissemination in our own voices and ways” (24). In the spirit of storytelling and through this project’s focus on both gathering and exchanging knowledge, we assembled our products by moving beyond the limits of a Western-focused research study to a process focused on stories. This included gathering individuals’ experiential stories to initiate conversation and production of the stories on a DVD to facilitate community conversation and inspire change.
6. Please provide a bibliography for work cited above or in other parts of this application. Provide full references, in the order sited in the text (i.e. according to number order). .
(1)Churchill, W. Kill the Indian, Save the Man. San Francisco: City Lights Books; 2004.
(2)Kovach M. Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts. Toronto: University of Toronto Press; 2009.
(3)Wilson, S. Research is Ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Black Point, NS: Fernwood Pub.; 2008.
(4)Saul, G. et. al. (producers) Entering the Circle: Communities Empowered through Ceremonies of Research. Videorecording, 60 minutes. Regina, University of Regina; 2008.
(5)Saskatchewan Aboriginal Peoples: 2006 Census of Canada. Available from. http://www.stats.gov.sk.ca/stats/pop/2006%20Census%20Aboriginal%20Peoples.pdf
(6)Dell, C, Lyons, T, Cayer, K. The role of ‘Kijigabandan’ and ‘Manadjitowin’ in understanding harm reduction policies and programs for Aboriginal peoples Native Social Work Journal 2010; 7:109-138.
(7)Health Canada. Honouring our Strengths: A Renewed Program Framework to Address Substance Use Issues among First Nations People in Canada. 2011 [cited Aug. 25, 2012] Available from: http://www.nnadaprenewal.ca/sites/www.nnadaprenewal.ca/files/2011/07/honouring-ourstrengths.pdf.
(8)Hopkins, C, Dumont, J (2010). Cultural Healing Practice within NNADAP/YSAP Services. 2010 [cited Aug. 25, 2012] Available from:
(9)McCormick, R, Quantz, D (2010). Improving Mental Health Services and Supports. 2010 [cited Aug. 25, 2012] Available from:
(10)First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC). Preliminary Report of the Regional Health Survey: Phase 2 Results –Adults, Youth, Child. Ottawa, ON: Author; 2011.
(11)Chansonneuve, D., Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Addictive Behaviours among Aboriginal People in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Aboriginal Healing Foundation; 2007.
(12)Reading, CL, Wien, F. Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health. National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health; 2009 [cited Aug. 26, 2012]. Available from: http://www.nccah-ccnsa.ca/40/Social_Determinants.nccah
(13)Gone, JP The Red Road to wellness: Cultural reclamation in a Native First Nations community treatment center. American Journal of Community Psychology 2011; 47: 87–202.
(14)Menzies, P, Bodnar, A, Harper, V (2010). The role of the Elder within a mainstream addiction and mental health hospital: Developing an integrated paradigm. Native Social Work Journal 2010; 7: 87-107.
(15)Acoose, S, Dell, CA. Hear me heal: First Nations women healing from drug abuse. In Herbe, RW, editor. Indigenous education: Pacific Nations. Saskatoon: First Nations University of Canada; 2009. p. 1-8.
(16)Goudreau, G., Weber-Pillwax, C., Cote-Meek, S., Madill, H. & Wilson, S. Hand drumming: Health-promoting experiences of Aboriginal women from a Norhtern Ontario urban community Journal of Aboriginal Health 2008; 4(1):72-83.
(17)Bartlett, J. G. Health and well-being for Métis women in Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Public Health 2005;96:S22-S27.
(18)Hunter, L. M., Logan, J., Goulet, J. & Barton, S. Aboriginal healing: Regaining balance and culture. Journal of Transcultural nursing 2006; 17(1):13-22.
(19)Bone, R, Dell, CA, Koskie, M, Kushniruk, M, Shorting, C (2011). The lived experience of volatile substance misuse: How support contributes to recovery and sustained wellbeing. Substance Use & Misuse: An International Interdisciplinary Forum 2011; 47 (S1): 119-127.
(20)Kaomea, J. Indigenous education for all? A metaphorical counterstory. International Critical Childhood Policy Studies 2009; 2(1):110-121.
(21)Mehl-Madrona, L. Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process. Vermont: Bear & Company; 2007. p. 296
(22)Roberts, R. Caught between two worlds: An Aboriginal researcher’s experience researching in her home community. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health 2005; 3(2): 108.
(23)Smith, LT. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. New York: St Martin’s Press; 1999.
(24)Macaulay, A, et. al. (1999). Participatory research maximises community and lay involvement. BMJ 1999; 319 (7212): 774-778
(25)Ermine, W. The ethical space of engagement. Indigenous Law Journal 2007; 6(1): 194.
(26)Chan, W. and Mirchandani, K. eds. 2001. Crimes of Color: Racialization and the Criminal Justice System in Canada. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press.
7. Please describe the project or body of work from which the submitted product developed. Describe the ways that community and academic/institutional expertise contributed to the project. Pay particular attention to demonstrating the quality or rigor of the work:
- For research-related work, describe (if relevant) study aims, design, sample, measurement instruments, and analysis and interpretation. Discuss how you verified the accuracy of your data.
- For education-related work, describe (if relevant) any needs assessment conducted, learning objectives, educational strategies incorporated, and evaluation of learning.
- For other types of work, discuss how the project was developed and reasons for the methodological choices made.
In 2011, the National Native Addictions Partnership Foundation (NNAPF), in collaboration with the National Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Program (NNADAP) and the Youth Solvent Addiction Program (YSAP) treatment centres, cultural practitioners and Elders, lead researchers from the Universities of Saskatchewan, Ottawa, British Columbia, Michigan, the First Nations University of Canada and the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, along with knowledge users from the Assembly of First Nations, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Health Canada collaborated on a Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant proposal to study the impact of Indigenous cultural interventions at NNADAP and YSAP treatment centres on client wellness.
In the interim to learning the grant competition results, team members from Saskatchewan and NNAPF responded to a provincial funding opportunity from the Drug Treatment Funding Program (DTFP). The aim was to facilitate a provincial conversation in response to a foundational question raised in the grant proposal – How has Aboriginal culture helped you, or someone you know, on the journey of healing from addictions? The DVD, Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet are the outcome of community-directed conversation.
The original proposal as well as this DTFP funded project is grounded in a commitment to bring together Indigenous traditional and Western knowledge in a shared space. Ermine explains that an “ethical space of engagement” is a space where Western and Indigenous worldviews and researchers come together (25). Elders, researchers, cultural practitioners, students, individuals with lived experience, service providers, decision makers and others have worked on this project in interchangeable roles, including the collection of stories, exchange of knowledge and documenting the product’s utility, all the while revisiting, refining and reshaping our approach to the conversation.
An illustration of this collaborative process is the establishment of the DTFP-funded project’s focus. The project began within a Western trained framework by identifying four ‘research questions’: 1) Why is culture important to healing from addictions? 2) What cultural experiences help people heal from addictions? 3) How do these cultural experiences make a difference for individuals on their healing journeys? 4) Are there any concerns about identifying the benefits of cultural interventions for healing from addictions?
When making the first community video, Elder Billy Ermine shared with the team that we are actually focusing on one question, How has Aboriginal culture helped you, or someone you know, on the journey of healing from addictions? This question paralleled the foundational question raised in the CIHR grant proposal. In response, our DTFP project focused on the one question, using the additional questions to prompt thought and discussion.
The project was developed in line with Indigenous and community-based approaches to knowledge gathering. A Project Coordinator was hired to facilitate the project and coordinate its process. Collaboratively, the research team determined that the best way to initiate conversation was through producing videos where people shared their healing journeys. Thus, we approached people who were far enough along in their own healing that they felt comfortable sharing a part of their story with us to initiate discussion and sharing. Again, imposing a Western framework upon the process, members of the project team expected individual stories from each person to emerge. However, the first two Elders (Elder Billy Ermine and Elder Gladys Wapass-Greyeyes) who shared with the project team did not offer personal stories but rather perspectives on culture that could be taken up by people as part of their healing journey. The cultural teachings these Elders offered both within the video and directly to the team informed the direction of the project and call for community response to submit videos and other ways of documenting stories.
8. Please describe the process of developing the product, including the ways that community and academic/institutional expertise were integrated in the development of this product.
Aboriginal peoples’ stories of healing from addictions, alongside the wisdom of Elders and academic expertise, guided the development of the DVD and accompanying Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet. As mentioned above, the advice and wisdom of Elders Gladys Wapass-Greyeyes and Billy Ermine influenced the product from the outset. For instance, Elder Ermine emphasized the importance of the team taking a holistic approach, of listening, and informed the team that we needed to put the right people in place and to trust the process. Elder Gladys Wapass-Greyeyes shared her understanding of culture and the nature of learning: My school is outside, my church is outside, I don’t have to be boxed in, nor do I have to sit in straight rows like that, that’s why we go back to the circle of life. Elder Papequash and his O ska pi yoos Larry LaLiberte provided near weekly insight and guidance on the unfolding nature of the products.
Following the interviews with Elders Wapass-Greyeyes and Ermine, three community videos were created relaying Val, Jenny and Sheena’s stories. Val and Jenny’s stories were produced through academic, community and videographer collaboration. These videos include aspects of Elder Billy and Gladys’ teachings that resonated with Val and Jenny’s stories. In order to reach youth who are affected by addictions, the team worked with the Saskatoon Community Youth Arts Programming Inc. who produce a third video with one of its young artists, Sheena. Throughout the video shooting, stories, poetry and art work started to be submitted, and so our team paid attention to these and incorporating what was learned from them into the next video. Elder Betty McKenna’s video was shot next, followed by Cynthia Shorting and Russell Bone’s intergenerational story of healing. Each video was edited collaboratively by the array of academic partners and community videographer, and the final agreement for its release was made by the community member. Throughout the project the academic partners assumed a role of contributor (e.g., video editing skills) as well as learner (e.g., from the shared stories), and in the case of this example, provided more technical contributions than content specifically.
Saskatchewan residents were encouraged to join the conversation through community events (e.g., youth conferences, pancake breakfast), organizations (e.g., Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, Montreal Lake Cree Nation Urban Committee) and in virtual spaces (e.g., Facebook, Twitter). Over 100 community members shared their story. Several community-initiated videos, as well as narratives, poetry, songs, articles, drawings, and music were submitted to the project and are included on the DVD. Community Knowledge Brokers who focused their work on gathering stories, and Knowledge Ambassadors who focused their work on raising awareness about the project were key to the discussion through their existing networks. Approximately 10 Knowledge Brokers and Knowledge Ambassadors from 7 communities went into 45 communities to collect stories and met with nearly 500 individuals.
In order to continue the conversation and recognize the diverse perspectives people shared, our team created 5,000 DVDs, Journey Magnets and Exercise Sheets to distribute across the province during the summer of 2012. To facilitate this process of sharing, Knowledge Ambassadors and Brokers travelled to various events, organizations and communities (e.g., powwows, Back to Batoche, All Nations Healing Hospital). Eight Knowledge Brokers and Ambassadors from five communities went into approximately 65 communities and met with nearly 4,500 individuals. People also ordered our product individually and continued the conversation virtually (using Facebook, Twitter, and our project website). As a part of this sharing process, our team created postcards for people to order DVDs, Journey Magnets and Exercise Sheets at no cost (pre-paid postage). In the spirit of our project’s focus on reciprocal relations, we focused first and foremost on respectfully sharing the products with those who shared their important, inspirational stories.
The idea for the Journey Magnet came out of the initial meeting of the Community Knowledge Brokers and Ambassadors with the academic and community team members. Consideration was given to the need for an accessible and culturally appropriate end product. Along with the DVD relaying stories people shared and the Exercise Sheet to provide guidance of how the stories’ might be viewed, it was suggested that an additional, accessible and tangible product be offered to the community in a manner consistent with the cultural tradition of offerings. This idea developed into a Journey Magnet, produced through a thematic analysis of all the words people used to describe Aboriginal culture, cultural practices, and their role in people’s healing journeys from addictions. Team members from NNAPF and the U of S worked closely on this analysis and extensive review was undertaken by Elder Campbell Papequash and Larry LaLiberte. Once again, the researcher role in this illustration was to provide guidance on undertaking the thematic analysis (i.e., capacity building) with the community partners.
It is proposed that other First Nations could undertake a similar process in other
provinces or territories, and as well as Inuit and Métis peoples. It could also extend beyond the Canadian boarders to other Indigenous populations, with the primary understanding that whatever process is adopted or built off the current one, it must be community-directed.
9. Please discuss the significance and impact of your product. In your response, discuss ways your product has added to existing knowledge and benefited the community; ways others may have utilized your product; and any relevant evaluation data about impact, if available. If the impact of the product is not yet known, discuss its potential significance.
The DVD and Journey Magnet relay people’s varied lived experiences of Aboriginal culture in healing from addictions. Colonizing practices have historically silenced these stories in Canada and specifically in Saskatchewan. Further, when these stories were shared, they were not given the respect they deserve. Sharing the knowledge exchanged within the stories can increase service providers understanding and in turn, contribute to Aboriginal health-informed policy, programming and practice. One Saskatchewan service provider commented: After hearing about the DVD – healing from addictions – I would love to order a copy. We work with life skills trainers and alternate education programs and teachers/instructors can use this DVD as a resource. The products can also benefit individuals on their healing journeys through the offering of inspiration and understanding. A Saskatchewan Aboriginal correctional programs officer wrote: I showed the DVD in my E WA WA EET Program, (Getting Ready), these are offenders that just arrived to a Healing Lodge setting, and also offenders that are ready to be released to the communities. This is the first program they take when they arrive, which leads into other programs like Parenting; Aboriginal Substance Abuse; Basic Healing... and so on. A lot of the Offenders come from dysfunctional homes, with no parenting skills, some are substance abusers. The video had a big impact on the guys that I showed. They were really interested and wanted to know more on Stacey Swampy. Stacey Swampy was actually a serving Offender at this very institution. He was released from [name of facility] and has since been living the clean and sober path. Some offenders here do attend his men’s circle he offers on Fridays. Stacy has come in and talked to offenders here on a couple of occasions. Which we are looking in on bringing him back. The video was awesome and I will get them to write a short note on how culture has helped them, and get them to you. Thanks.
The products are being used in multiple ways and with various audiences. For example, a video was shared at a local addictions facility to offer hope to clients on their healing journeys. It has also been offered as a staff education tool in a non-Aboriginal community program and has served as a discussion tool at a government policy roundtable to help shape addictions prevention options.
Follow-up conversations, led by our project’s community ambassadors, are currently taking place about the use of the product and whether it is achieving its primary goal: to share individuals’ stories about the role of Aboriginal culture in healing from addictions and to serve as a catalyst for a strength-based provincial conversation. Contact information has been collected from most individuals who were issued a package and nearly half work in an organization and agreed to be contacted for a follow-up conversation about how they are using it. In order to maintain the confidentiality and relationships our team built with community members on their healing journeys, we are only following-up with people working in organizational settings. The results of this should be available in Summer, 2013.
In addition to following up with people about the product’s usefulness, our plans in the immediate future include using the product in workshops with health care providers across the Saskatchewan’s 13 health regions. These workshops will focus on how health care workers can best provide culturally competent and culturally relevant care when working with Aboriginal peoples healing from addictions. The products will serve two purposes. One, they can assist with furthering health care providers understanding about the role of Aboriginal culture in healing from addictions. These same health care providers can also use the DVDs, Journey Magnets and Exercise Sheets with their Aboriginal clients healing from addictions and those who want to learn about Aboriginal culture and the role it plays in others’ healing journeys.
10. Please describe why you chose the presentation format you did.
The goal of the DVD and accompanying Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet is to share individuals’ stories about the role of Aboriginal culture in healing from addictions and serve as a catalyst for a strengths-based provincial conversation. Therefore, it was imperative for the products to be accessible in content, display and venues.
The content of the DVD ranges from videos and songs to poetry, written narratives, drawings, articles and survey responses to address the intended audiences, who range in age, educational and life experiences. For example, the people who shared their stories through video on the DVD range from a female hip-hop youth to a male Elder. The development of the Journey Magnet similarly considered the various people who may use it and was created at a Grade 6 comprehension level to ensure accessibility.
Significant work went into the design of the DVD, Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet to ensure it was visually appealing, inviting and accessible to the various people who have been involved in the conversation. For example, the four-colored circle on all three products is culturally significant (it represents balance), the trees symbolizes the journey or path of healing, and the translation of ‘Join the Conversation!’ into Cree, Dene, Saulteaux, Nakota, Dakota and Lakota and Michif, as well as French, represent the Aboriginal language groups within the province and Canada’s two official languages. Three videos were also translated into the most commonly spoken Aboriginal language in Saskatchewan.
11. Please reflect on the strengths and limitations of your product. In what ways did community and academic/institutional collaborators provide feedback and how was such feedback used? Include relevant evaluation data about strengths and limitations if available.
A key strength of the product is its accessibility. Foremost, there is no cost for the DVD, Journey Magnet and Exercise Sheet. Nearly 4,500 packages have been distributed across Saskatchewan, which has a population of just over one million. All of the stories on the DVD are also available on our website. A picture of the Journey Magnet is available on our website as well. It can be printed and the words cut out in order to achieve the same purpose as the magnet version. The Exercise Sheet can also be accessed on the project website. A related limitation is that we currently have a waiting list for the product packages, and it is not known if we will be able to secure funding for the production and distribution of more (each costs approximately $10).
As relayed, there were a large number of academic and community-based individuals involved in the development of the product. The team also ensured community members’ feedback was integrated into the product and that it reflected the diverse voices of those involved in the conversation. For example, in response to a community-identified need for videos in Cree, the team translated two videos. A clear limitation is that all the products were not translated into all Aboriginal languages, but this was a constraint of the project budget. As another example of our team responding to community feedback, at a community pancake breakfast marking the final day of formal story collection, a clear message was relayed to the team about the need to return the stories to community members who shared them in the same respectful and culturally relevant way they were collected: through storytelling. There was a strong desire for the offering of the DVD and other products to be accompanied by presentations (their story), and so the project Knowledge Ambassadors focused their work on this over the summer of 2012. This included facilitating presentations at a Healing Gathering in Regina, the Prince Albert Indian Métis Friendship Centre, the Métis Addictions Council of Saskatchewan, among other organizations and communities.
The pilot test of the follow-up questions with service providers and organizations relayed that some individuals (25%) found it difficult to access the DVD, even though it was designed to be compatible with the majority of DVD and computer operating systems. This limitation arises from an error during the DVD creation process, as it is not clear how to access the computer content (e.g., written narratives) on the root menu of the DVD. Stickers were added to the package back with instructions explaining how to access this content, yet people may discard these after opening the packages.
Finally, the follow-up questions do not directly address whether the products are informing health policy, programming and research or individuals’ healing journeys from addictions. In order to further explore the impact of this product, it would be necessary to design a long-term, thorough evaluation that captures this information. Such an evaluation would have needed to be addressed at the start of the project to inform individuals sharing their stories of this research-based intent for their stories’ use.
12. Please describe ways that the project resulting in the product involved collaboration that embodied principles of mutual respect, shared work and shared credit. If different, describe ways that the product itself involved collaboration that embodied principles of mutual respect, shared work and shared credit. Have all collaborators on the product been notified of and approved submission of the product to CES4Health.info? If not, why not? Please indicate whether the project resulting in the product was approved by an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and/or community-based review mechanism, if applicable, and provide the name(s) of the IRB/mechanism.
Our project’s development is based on the concept of reciprocity – by gathering stories amongst individuals, communities and organizations, and in return sharing these stories in order to facilitate conversation on how Aboriginal culture has helped individuals, and people they know, on their journeys of healing from addictions. With this principle guiding our project, mutual respect has been offered between the individuals who shared their stories (and continue to do so) and those who collected them. People can share their story anonymously if they choose. Letters of appreciation have been sent to all contributing individuals and gifts of gratitude have been expressed in return. Lasting friendships have been developed and built upon.
As described above, this project was a collaborative effort between academic and community partners, with everyone contributing skills and talents in areas they felt comfortable and some capacity building taking place in others. One of the most obvious examples of this collaboration was the lengthy discussions that took place between our team members to come to the final product, especially during visits with our project Elder, Campbell Papequash and Larry LaLiberte.
All team members recognized the great significance of these internal conversations, as well as at the community level, because historically such culture-based conversations, and the sacred ceremonies they embodied were legally outlawed by the Canadian government, and most prominently in 1895 through enactment of the Indian Act(26). It was not until 1951 that cultural practices could be held without fear of official legal prosecution, although persecution continued in other ways. Mutual respect for Aboriginal peoples’ history was offered by all of our team members, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike, alongside a commitment to share our product and most important the historically silenced voices of Aboriginal peoples’ healing rooted in cultural their understanding.
Recognition was shared equitably amongst our team members. For example, everyone was offered the opportunity to be a part of this article. Those that chose to be involved are authors and are identified in alphabetical order to represent our collaborative contributions. Our team recognizes that contributions come in many forms, with ideas being as important as the written word. In this way, with no hierarchal ranking of authors, credit is equally shared among our team members. All have approved the submission of this article.
Our project was not reviewed by an Institutional Review Board because it was not a research study; an acknowledgement of exemption was provided by the University of Saskatchewan. So even though personal and identifying information is included in the DVD, the Institutional Review Board only deals with research projects and so did not provide a review for this community-directed conversation. It is important to emphasize that contributors to the DVD had the option of providing their story in an anonymous format, and many chose to do this. The follow-up contact with service providers to determine how they are using the product is considered evaluation, and therefore also does not require review. No community-based review board was approached because individuals, and not communities, were involved in the project. Guidance was obtained from and maintained with our participating Elders. In addition, NNAPF is the representing organization on the project and was a co-lead in all aspects of the project. All material is copy written to the project because of its public distribution, but individuals maintain ownership of their submitted materials. All agreed to the public distribution of their contributions in both the DVD and internet formats.