Turning Points: An Empowerment Connection Project for Indigenous People with Alcohol Dependence
Principal Investigator: Prof. Peter Klein, School of Journalism, UBC
Partners: Mr. W. Greenland, A New Day Men’s Healing Program; Tree of Peace Friendship Centre
Turning Points is a crowd-sourced digital portal for individuals coping with alcohol dependence. Through a mobile and desktop platform, people from Indigenous communities across the Canadian Arctic can connect, share their experiences, and tap into storytelling traditions that have been used to connect and heal people for centuries. Ultimately, Indigenous Peoples in remote communities across the Arctic, who have been disenfranchised and without adequate resources to address alcohol dependence, will now have voices and access to a shared community that they can turn to for support when facing challenges, for encouragement towards positive change, and for reassurance that they are not alone in their experiences. The project is led by UBC faculty Prof. Peter Klein and Dr. John Oliffe in collaboration with William Greenland, an Indigenous counsellor from the Gwich’in First Nation.
Project update (January 2020)
The Turning Points project has produced eight video shorts. Each story touches on a different success or challenge related to alcohol dependence in Indigenous communities in the Northwest Territories. Each story was co-created with a local storyteller – an approach that aligns with national-level strategies and priorities for media and research identified by Indigenous nations across Canada – in particular recommendations 22, 84 and 85 put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. In developing this project, our interdisciplinary team merged traditional arts-based research methods with journalism to develop an innovative model called empowerment journalism. Our team is made up of interdisciplinary researchers (ethics, education, journalism and population and public health), professional journalists and community members. The key challenges being addressed through this Wall Solutions award centre on historic shortcomings by researchers and journalists when working in Indigenous communities – especially around challenging topics such as alcohol use, addiction, residential school and violence. Doing so meant making Indigenous ownership over data central to our research ethics, privileging the voices and narratives of local storytellers and giving back to the communities we work in.
The Turning Points video series will be completed by the end of 2019. In 2020 the project team will focus on KT events and publication. Along with a multimedia website, our team has begun reaching out to media outlets and identifying avenues for publication, including film festivals, radio shows, digital media publishers, educational distribution platforms, and social media. Our public launch will consist of two community screening events, one in Yellowknife (February 2020) and one in Vancouver (date tbd).