Teens look to break the cycle of alcoholism in their community. Their idea: a sign is placed in a window to show that a home is a sober one, where alcohol and intoxicated people are not welcome.
A small group of outspoken Indigenous youth in Northern Saskatchewan are looking to break the cycle of damage caused by alcohol in their communities.
They’ve turned to the “Sober House” concept as a way to garner support for their movement. It’s a simple idea, presented by acclaimed Indigenous author Harold R. Johnson in his book Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People And Yours — a sign is placed in a window to show that home is sober home, where alcohol and intoxicated people are not welcome.
The idea is to strengthen a community from the inside out by offering visual proof of sober people, and a place for people looking for support or refuge from substance abuse. The project looks to reverse the normalization of over-consumption of alcohol inside Indigenous communities — communities like Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
In 2019, Prince Albert ranked #4 on the list of Canada’s Most Dangerous Communities. The city is no stranger to the effects of overconsumption of alcohol; however, many businesses in Prince Albert reply on sales and off-sales of alcohol for revenue, so alcohol remains readily available.
Since this group of teenagers call Prince Albert home, they’ve chosen to approach City Council for support for the Sober House project.
Wesmor Community High School in Prince Albert is comprised of roughly 98% First Nations and Indigenous students. These students are affected by the continued struggles of youth and teens in Northern Saskatchewan, including the suicide crisis of 2016 where six Indigenous girls between the ages of 10 and 14 took their lives. There is, however, a new emergence of students who want to carry the mantle of being the 7th fire: the Indigenous generation that will step forward and make efforts to change the current situation for Indigenous people.
Carmen, Lynden, Pay and Ayla believe that they are the 7th fire. They believe that they can make a difference; that the situation will be better for the next generation of Indigenous youth than it was for them.
Through the Sober House project, Camryn and his classmates step outside their collective comfort zones to present their ideas in public forums to gain support.Will their idea be accepted? Can they get support for their movement? Can they make a difference?
If Camryn and the other students can garner support from this large City Council, they will be well on their way toward making real change, and bettering their community for future generations.