Northern Health doctors create empowering colouring book
A story colouring book written by a pair of Northern BC doctors carries a profound message for Aboriginal children. Doctors William Osei and Theresa Healy collaborated to produce "The Eagle and the Chickens" - a story that is meant to empower Aboriginal communities to rise above the negative effects of colonization.
Osei first told the story to a northern Aboriginal community during a talk on HIV. "The story's a very old story that was told in the 1920's by an [educator] who was also a missionary from the British colony of the Gold Coast [in west Africa]," says Osei, "At that time, we were in a colony situation, and he was telling them that they had the potential to fly, to choose to have options rather than be trapped."
Healy saw how the group Osei was speaking with became more receptive to the difficult information about HIV after hearing the story. "It really tells a story of colonization, but without using that word," says Healy, "And it talks about it in such an empowering way." Healy says the book is meant to be a tool to combat rising HIV rates in Northern Aboriginal communities by fostering positive self worth in children.
While in the province as a whole, HIV/AIDS is decreasing and is mostly seen among Caucasions, the reverse is true in Northern BC. Rates are rising in the North, particularly among Aboriginal people between 20 and 49. "If you feel good about yourself, you're less likely to engage in risky behaviour," says Healy, "It's when you have a low self esteem or been trained up to think of yourself as not having value that you indulge in risky behavioiur because you don't feel worth saving."
Osei says this book is as much for the parents as it is for the kids. "If we get the youngs ones to colour this book at the pre-school age," says Osei, "They're going to rediscover themselves and we're going to give birth to a new generation of First Nations that will be able to compete and get over all the economic woes that we are seeing with them."
"The Eagle and the Chickens" has been distributed to Aboriginal communities, and health care and day care centres throughout the region. "I think this is applicable to other communities as well," says Osei, "We wrote it for First Nations; every child in this community would benefit from it. I'm appealing to all parents who don't have one to make an effort to get one for their kids and see how their lives will be changed."
To receive a copy, contact Northern Health.