Rehearsing with Reality: Exploring Health Issues with Aboriginal Youth through Drama

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McKay, S., Fuchs, D. & Brown, I. (Eds.). Passion for Action in Child and Family Services: Voices from the Prairies. Regina, SK: Canadian Plains Research Center: pp. 99-118.

This chapter examines a research project that was undertaken as a partnership between the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQTC), the First Nations University of Canada, and Concordia University. The research project, Developing Healthy Decision-Making with Aboriginal Youth through Drama, used Forum Theatre workshops to help First Nations youth critically examine the choices they make that affect their health and to utilize the power of theatre to explore other choices and their potential consequences. It is believed that by engaging youth in an examination of the factors that affect their decision-making, we could help them develop healthy lifestyles, which would, in turn, prevent their subsequent children’s involvement in the child welfare and judicial systems.

The research is situated in the historical and present-day realities of the effects of colonization on First Nations people using “post-colonial” traumatic stress response. The authors also explore the theory and application of drama and Forum Theatre to First Nations communities. After describing the drama workshops central to the research, they examine the effects of colonization evident in the youth’s dramatic portrayal of their lives. They conclude that drama is one way to engage Aboriginal youth in the investigation of the health issues in their lives as its form and process gives space for youth to voice their perspectives. The chapter ends by outlining how important it is to work with Aboriginal youth to identify and create places in their lives where different choices, and, consequently, different realities, are possible.

Research Areas

Province / Territory
Canadian CW research
Book chapter