CCSA’s Issues of Substance Conference
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Plenary Session
Harold Johnson - The Firewater Story

Date & Time Monday, November 25
8:30 - 10:00
Room Confederation Ballroom

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We tell ourselves many stories. Some help us to navigate the world we have created, while others are absurd. The drunken Indian story has been told since first contact. It was told throughout the colonial period and was told to us again in residential schools. It is still told today. Fragments of it appear in the media and academics write about it. It is a powerful story that results in a multitude of harms. 

Stories are powerful. Some can kill heal and others can heal.

“The Firewater Story” examines stories around the consumption of alcohol from a First Nations person’s lens, paying close attention to the dynamics of stories in northern Saskatchewan. Harold R. Johnson has identified and will discuss the four models for stories that have been applied to the problem of alcohol-related harms. 

The Enforcement Model examines the role of the justice system. In this model, the problem is made worse because of overincarceration and the teaching of jailhouse culture.

The Medical Model examines how the medical profession has dealt with alcohol and how that model is being transformed by evidence-based approaches.

The Victim Model tackles those stories that keep people stuck in a cycle of despair.

The Trauma Model explores the harsh reality that results in self-medication with alcohol to ameliorate the symptoms of trauma. Self-medication results in increased need for the justice system and medical interventions, and adds to the sense of hopelessness conveyed by the other three models.
 


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