Nunavik community group promotes responsible holiday drinking

Posted on December 15, 2016 by Leave a comment


This is what $300 will buy you in the Nunavik community of Puvirnituq: a cart full of groceries, or a bootlegged 40-ounce bottle of vodka. (PHOTO COURTESY OF INUULITSIVIK)
This is what $300 will buy you in the Nunavik community of Puvirnituq: a cart full of groceries, or a bootlegged 40-ounce bottle of vodka. (PHOTO COURTESY OF INUULITSIVIK)
Shoppers in Puvirnituq were faced with a few tough questions when they visited their local co-op store earlier this month.
A shopping cart greeted customers at the store. It was filled with $300 worth of groceries: bread, pasta, milk, juice, eggs, sugar and other basic staples. Displayed on a stool next to the cart, a 40-ounce bottle of bootlegged vodka, also worth $300.

The display was part of a move by local organizations, which have joined forces ahead of this holiday season to launch an alcohol awareness campaign for the community of 1,700 residents on Nunavik’s Hudson coast.

“We’re trying to change the social norms and standards around drinking,” said Robert Levy Powell, who works in program development for addictions at the Inuulitsivik health centre.

Co-op customers were also invited to fill out questionnaires.

“How can the immediate family help and support pregnant women not to consume alcohol during her pregnancy? Give two examples,” reads one of the questions.

Another one asks: “If you tell someone while drunk that you will kill them (threat) and the next morning you do not remember what happened, can you still be charged and go to court?”

Everyone who filled out a questionnaire was given a raffle ticket to win the groceries on display, donated by the co-op store.

Puvirnituq has long been a hub for bootlegging in the region, but the community is relatively new to the legal access to alcohol; residents voted in 2012 to lift restrictions in place.

A couple years later, the Northern Village moved to allow alcohol orders from the South. By 2015, the local co-op store followed Kuujjuaq’s example and started to sell beer and wine.

Puvirnituq has been adapting ever since.

“Initially there was a decrease in violent crime, but [we’ve seen] an increase in petty crime, like disturbing the peace,” Levy Powell said.

“Then it started to go back to normal. More functional people started drinking more, and binge drinkers were drinking more regularly,” he said. “And it’s putting more stress on our elders to provide for their families.”

“Bootlegging has decreased but it’s still there.”

Starting in 2014, residents of Puvirnituq have also had unlimited access to the amount of alcohol they can order from the South.

But a Nov. 23 referendum changed that when 56 per cent of Puvirnituq voters approved a new bylaw that limits alcohol orders to once a week.

The existing by-law we had was causing problems, explained Puvirnituq municipal councillor Muncy Novalinga.

Residents of Puvirnituq, and even Nunavimmiut in neighbouring communities, were ordering up to eight “mickeys” or 375-ml bottles of booze every day through the community, often for the purpose of bootlegging.

“People were detained more and more, [we were seeing] more injuries and medevacs, so we asked the population if they could approve, to renew and replace the existing by-law,” Novalinga said.

Now residents can order a combination of two items per week: 24 350-ml cans of beer, a four-litre box of wine and up to 40 ounces of up to 70 proof alcohol.

“The fear is that bootlegging will just increase,” Levy Powell said.

So Levy Powell and his his colleagues Maina Beaulne and Nellie Napartuk, who work in promotion and prevention at Inuulitsivik,  teamed up with the Kativik Regional Police Force, the co-operative association and other community organizations to host an addictions awareness and prevention week.

With alcohol largely available to the community, the best option is to equip the population with the tools to consume responsibly, Levy Powell said.

“It’s how to reduce harm,” he said.

That means teaching people how to drink less—a maximum of four drinks in an evening, five for men, he suggested.

Counsellors, police officers, community leaders and even recovered alcoholics have been on the community radio to drive that message home in recent weeks, as holiday parties tend to encourage heavier drinking.

Levy Powell said the campaign hopes to offer simple but important advice about the potential dangers of over-consumption.

In the coming weeks, Levy Powell’s team plans to host a self-screening tool at the community’s Northern store, where residents can take a closer look at how much they drink and smoke.

Smoking is another challenge for Inuulitsivik’s addiction team. The group focuses its prevention efforts on local youth by teaching students about the associated health risks.

On a recent visit to a Grade 6 classroom, Levy Powell said 12 out of 14 students in the class admitted they were smokers.

“I was astounded,” he said.


Retrieved from: http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674nunavik_community_group_promote_responsible_drinking_during_holidays/


We are looking for Graduate/Masters Students with an interest in FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)


Graduate/Masters Student with an interest in FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)

We are looking to expand and we could use your help!

The Prevention Conversation: A Shared Responsibility project seeks to raise awareness of the dangers of consuming alcohol when pregnant by promoting a message of abstinence if pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

Supported by the Alberta FASD Cross-Ministry Committee, the project aims to empower medical, health and social service staff to engage in their own FASD prevention conversations with women, partners and communities through the daily work that they do.

This project was developed based on the first and second levels of the Four-Part Model of Prevention (PHAC 2008). The first level utilizes community development strategies to raise awareness among women of child-bearing years 18 to 45. The second level supports primary care providers to develop the necessary skills to engage in non-judgmental, empathetic and sensitive conversations about alcohol and pregnancy.

We are now ready to expand the project and the important conversations to adolescents. We are looking for an interdisciplinary team to develop the resources and tools needed to provide the message to an adolescent audience and their supports (teachers, parents, volunteers, etc.)

If you have an interest in the prevention of FASD, this may be an opportunity for you. Disciplines of interest may include but are not limited to, health, education, social sciences and communications.

We believe this would be a time commitment of approximately 6 months and an honorarium will be provided:

Please submit your interest, along with a brief resume of your education and experience.
Independent or group proposals will be accepted. We need to know how you will partner and collaborate with others. Please submit to:
Hazel Mitchell, FASD Prevention Conversation Project Manager at
hmitchell@southalbertafasdnetwork.com by December 16, 2016.

The Prevention Conversation website (preventionconversation.org) is a good source of information of what this project is about and the current resources that are available. To support the project, a literature review has been completed.




How one woman overcame fetal alcohol syndrome and found art

Art allowed Jennifer Tourangeau, a 36-year-old Dene woman, to deal with personal pain—and it’s led her to a career she’s passionate about

Sharon Oosthoek

Grande Prairie Regional College Jennifer Tourangeau Art

“How are you going to change your part of the world in a positive way for the next seven generations?”

That was the challenge that Jennifer Tourangeau put to her fellow graduates at Grande Prairie Regional College’s two-year visual arts and design program in Alberta this spring. She urged them to take an Indigenous approach to stewardship—that is, to live and work for the benefit of seven generations into the future. As valedictorian, it was her job to send them out into the world with a message of hope. The 36-year-old Dene woman’s very presence at the lectern was likely hope enough for many in the crowd.

“My own change began when I chose Grande Prairie Regional College as my first stop in the journey to my dreams,” she told them. “During this time, I have  had my own struggles, joy, excitement, and at some points wanting to give up. As you can see, I didn’t.”

Tourangeau, who describes her art as a mix of painting, sketches and ink drawings, often inspired by her Indigenous heritage, says she loved the way her instructors built on her strengths as an oral and visual learner. But it’s been a long road to this point.

She was born with fetal alcohol syndrome in the Northwest Territories community of Lutsel K’e, on the shores of Great Slave Lake. When she was 14 months old, her mother gave her up for adoption and she grew up with her adoptive family in Fort Smith, N.W.T. While Tourangeau’s adoptive father, who is Indigenous, and her adoptive mother, who is not, were supportive of her, she struggled with feelings of abandonment and long periods of depression.

READ: Grande Prairie Regional College | Grande Prairie, Alta. | Founded 1966

When she met her biological mother again at the age of 13, it was an emotional experience that shook her up. “I mean, how do you explain to a 13-year-old who has a disability why you gave them up? It took me a long time to realize the biggest sacrifice a mother can give is to give up her child so she can have a better life.”

At the age of 16, Tourangeau landed a job as a disability and community worker in Fort Smith. She enjoyed it, but was never able to do it full-time, even after graduating from high school. “The heavy lifting”—often part of the job, working with the disabled—“was hard on me,” she says. “I’m only four foot ten.”

After a short-lived attempt at a career as a computer technician, she found another job as a group-home worker. But she pushed herself hard and worked long hours, leading to burnout and a medical leave for stress and anxiety.

It was during this time—as Tourangeau was trying to figure out what to do with her life—that she enrolled in the visual arts and design program at Grande Prairie. “I had no idea what I wanted to do with the diploma. I just needed something to enjoy,” she says. “The art allowed me to release a lot of pain and find out who I was.”

But Tourangeau’s pain was not over. As she began her first semester, she received news that her biological mother had been strangled and her body left in an alleyway in downtown Yellowknife. As Tourangeau began the final year of her program last fall, her mother’s murderer was sentenced to life in prison.

“It may not be enough, but at least I got closure. A lot of Indigenous people don’t get this,” she says. “My mother is the product of the residential school system and so am I. I choose to break the cycle.”

She praises her instructors for supporting her request to complete the two-year diploma over four years and allowing her to ease into the program with studio-based work.

One of those instructors, Native studies teacher Kirsten Mikkelsen, describes her as a “highly focused and determined human being who strived for excellence in spite of the barriers.”

Mikkelsen recognized her student’s potential. This fall, she helped recruit Tourangeau as a peer mentor for Indigenous learners in the college’s department of arts and education.

While Tourangeau loves her new job, she sees it as a stepping stone to a degree in art therapy and a career helping others work through their anguish with art.

Her art history instructor, Edward Bader, says she’ll no doubt get there: “She works very hard. She’s very passionate about her art and follows up on every opportunity.”

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Christmas Card Contest Winner

“Congratulations to the winner of [canFASD] Christmas cards contest, Jennifer Tourangeau! Jennifer is the Indigenous AADP Peer Mentorship Program Assistant at Grande Prairie Regional College GPRC and will be attending the University of Alberta for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in September. Jennifer uses her indigenous background and living with FASD in her art to create beautiful pieces, like the one we are fortunate to use for our Christmas card!” http://canfasd.ca/