Say when: Nunavut's new responsible drinking campaign tries to curb binge drinking

Nunavut's responsible drinking campaign hopes to create low-risk drinking habits by teaching what a standard drink looks like and about the daily limits for men and women.

Campaign teaches low-risk drinking guidelines like standard drink sizes, daily limits

Mads Sandbakken (left) and Janis Qaunirq show some of the information presented in the Let's Be Aware campaign to encourage responsible drinking in Nunavut. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

Nicole Giles is surprised to learn the shots of tequila she pours for herself are almost double the standard drink size.

That's according to guidelines in Nunavut's first campaign on long-term responsible use of alcohol. The Let's Be Aware campaign is trying to promote low-risk drinking habits. The 2012 Nunavut Liquor Task Force report A New Approach: Halting the Harm found binge drinking has become too common in the territory.

One way the campaign hopes to create low-risk drinking habits is by teaching what a standard drink looks like and the daily limits for men and women, according to Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol guidelines.

Nicole Giles was surprised to learn the shot of tequila that she usually pours herself is more than the recommended daily serving. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Giles recently participated in a Let's Be Aware demonstration in Iqaluit. Team members ask participants to pour themselves a drink, using water, into either a wine glass, mug or shot glass. Then they pour the water into a special cup that measures a standard drink of hard liquor, wine or beer — only to discover they have likely overserved themselves.

"I do partake in a bit of tequila every now and again so I use shot glasses. So I poured up what would have been my regular shot," said Giles.

"It turns out I was pouring out almost a double every time. So that's good to know. I could have been in real trouble if I was a big drinker, which I'm not."

Giles took one of the demonstration cups with her, saying it's a handy tool she can use to keep an eye on her alcohol consumption.

Not telling people 'don't drink'

Nunavut's Department of Finance says the campaign is not related to the beer and wine store scheduled to open in Iqaluit next month or the votes in favour of opening beer and wine stores in Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay.

The campaign was a recommendation from the Nunavut Liquor Task Force.

"We're not trying to tell people 'don't drink' and we're also not trying to encourage people to drink," said Mads Sandbakken, with the Department of Finance.

Nicole Giles points to where she would normally fill a glass when pouring herself a drink. (Travis Burke/CBC)

"This campaign is an acknowledgment that alcohol is in the territory and has been for a long time," he said.

"We just really felt like people don't have enough resources... to make healthy and informed choices. We encourage people to make their own choice."

The Let's Be Aware campaign launched in Cambridge Bay in March. The team has also held presentations in Iqaluit and Cape Dorset and there are plans to talk to new students at Nunavut Arctic College this fall.

About the Author

Jane Sponagle

Jane Sponagle is a reporter for CBC North based in Whitehorse. Jane started her CBC career with The World This Hour in Toronto before heading to the North. After a few months in Yellowknife, Jane moved to Iqaluit where she spent six years reporting on politics, food security and housing. She has also reported with CBC in Halifax.