New resource explores the journey from preconception to parenting

The Best Start Resource Centre  in Toronto, Ontario has released a resource for service providers who work with First Nations families called The Sacred Journey from Preconception to Parenting for First Nations Families in Ontario.

Alcohol use and FASD is covered in the sections on preconception and pregnancy, but alcohol use is also discussed from a historical and cultural perspective:

“The impact of intergenerational trauma from disease, forced relocation, religious indoctrination, the residential school system and racism have left a “soul wound” in the heart of First Nations communities (Duran, Duran, 1995)…. When addressing substance use, keep in mind that information and advice may not be enough. Understanding and addressing underlying factors such as poverty, stress, abuse, mental health concerns etc., may be particularly important in setting the stage to address substance use.”

The resource brings together up-to-date statistics on use, practice tips and resources for service providers.

I especially like that the resource challenges service providers to view alcohol use as an issue that is integrated throughout the lifespan and isn’t just something to get concerned about when a woman gets pregnant. Historically, FASD prevention efforts have been very “fetus-centric” and have missed seeing a woman within a greater context (e.g., partner, family, community) as the route for action and awareness.

Jessica Yee (Mohawk), Founder and Executive Director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, comments in the resource:

“I am quite concerned about the isolation of the rest of sexual and reproductive health to pregnancy and birthing. It’s almost as if pregnancy and birthing gets treated like it’s a separate issue—disconnected from other issues like sexual self-esteem and pleasure, and it is typically approached with a very heteronormative, monogamous lens (as in it’s an identified “woman” who is pregnant with an identified “man” and they have a monogamous relationship). This does not allow any resources, support, or dialogue for Two Spirit, transgender, or gender non-conforming persons, alternative families, surrogacy, or single mothers to be.”

This resource can be downloaded for free from the Best Start Resource Centre.

For more on similar resources in Aboriginal/indigenous communities, see previous posts: