Poster Campaign from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission


The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) has a new FASD poster campaign. The AGLC  website reports that the poster will be distributed through liquor stores, healthcare delivery sites, and key provincial stakeholders and describes the poster like this:

“The poster is bold and impactful as it was created to be eye-catching and to grab consumer attention. The message does not place blame nor create an unsupportive environment, but is a visual representation of the fact that choices related to alcohol and pregnancy do matter and can have severe consequences.”

While the poster is not intended to be unsupportive, it is reminiscent of smoking in pregnancy campaigns of the early 1980s. (For more on this issue, see earlier posts here and here). What do you think? Who is the intended audience and what is the poster trying to accomplish?

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission is a member of the FASD Cross Ministry Committee. The FASD-CMC works in co-operation with provincial and community organizations and regional groups to provide a comprehensive and co-ordinated provincial response to FASD.

Denise Milne, Senior Manager in Alberta Health Services and lead of the Provincial FASD Initiative, recently gave an update on FASD prevention activities in Alberta which you can view here.

Denise mentions the development of an FASD Awareness and Prevention Council through the FASD Cross Ministry Committee. She also reports on evaluation findings from Alberta’s 24 mentoring programs (7 are First Nations) based on the Parent–Child Assistance Program (PCAP) (learn more about the PCAP model here). These programs work with about 250 women who are at-risk of having a child with FASD. Evaluation findings show that the program is effective in decreasing rates of welfare use and increasing employment and use of birth control.

For more on FASD prevention in Alberta, see earlier posts:

“You are not alone. Support is available.” Alcohol and pregnancy campaign designed by and for Aboriginal women in Manitoba

New poster and brochure from Healthy Child Manitoba


It is important for women to receive clear and supportive information about staying as healthy as possible during pregnancy. This includes receiving appropriate culturally sensitive information about the potential impact of alcohol on pregnancy and ways of preventing FASD.

Women accessing the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba wanted to get this message out to their community. Working with nursing students on practicum, and with help from the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre and Mount Carmel Clinic, they designed the message they wanted women to hear and know: “You are not Alone. Support is available.” Download the poster as a PDF here.

Healthy Child Manitoba worked with the North Point Douglas Women’s Centre at the final design and production stages providing: (1) helpful suggestions about design qualities including the final placement of visuals on the posters and brochures, (2) accurate message and content information for the posters and brochures, and (3) the financial resources for the production of the posters, brochures and promotional items.

Learn more about other FASD prevention initiatives in Manitoba, including Project Choices and the InSight Mentoring Program, on the Healthy Child Manitoba website.

For more on alcohol and pregnancy awareness initiatives in indigenous communities, see earlier posts:

FASD Campaign from Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia

This recent media campaign from Western Australia uses a peer-to-peer approach, “a call to action from women, to women” to raise awareness of people affected by FASD and the impact it has on their lives.

The campaign was developed by Goolari Media, a fully owned Indigenous company, and includes a TV ad which has been broadcast on Goolari’s digital service throughout Broome, a radio advertisement broadcast in the immediate Broome area and throughout regional and remote communities in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions, and the distribution of the ad on DVD to regional health professionals.

This is an example of a targeted public education campaign which focuses on indigenous women in a particular region of Western Australia. The ad is intended to be supportive and encouraging, with women speaking directly to other women.

The ad says:

“Drinking grog during pregnancy is very dangerous for your unborn baby. We all have responsibility to give the best possible start to a baby’s life. Even small amounts of alcohol can cause major health problems that can last a lifetime…..So, if you’re pregnant, you just don’t charge up. When it comes to pregnancy, let’s help each other and say no to grog.”

The press release (July 10, 2012) from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education describes the advertisement:

“The single fluid TV and radio advertisements incorporate the voices and images of 16 women against a neutral background. The different ages, skin colours, and array of Indigenous faces and voices reflect the diversity and vastness of the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of today.”

The project has been funded with a grant of $19,720 (AUS) from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), and was one of 17 grants awarded to community organisations throughout Australia as part of the 2011 Community Education and Engagement Grant Funding Round.

For more on FASD prevention in Western Australia, see earlier posts:

Decolonizing FASD Policy in Canada

Poster, STOP Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effects NOW, First Nations and Inuit health, Health Canada, 2002

It makes sense that the way we understand a problem shapes the solutions we develop. Gemma Hunting and Annette Browne have recently published an article in the journal Women’s Health and Urban Life (click here for free full-text) that looks at how issues related to alcohol use, mothering, and Aboriginal women are often understood.

Despite the growing discussion among researchers that Aboriginal communities may be no more affected by FASD than non-Aboriginal communities, Hunting and Browne argue that FASD continues to be perceived as an ‘Aboriginal issue.’ The problem with this is that, rather than paying attention to all women’s alcohol use, negative misperceptions about Aboriginal women, and Aboriginal health and social issues are perpetuated.

They address some key prevailing ideas (incorrect ideas!) such as:

  • Aboriginal people have a genetic vulnerability to the effects of alcohol (despite compelling evidence that this is not true)
  • Aboriginal women are not capable mothers (they connect this to policies that started in the 1960s and continue today in child welfare practices)
  • Increased awareness about the dangers of alcohol use during pregnancy will lead to changes in behaviour (relates to the idea that health education is the primary solution to FASD)

Overall, Hunting and Browne show that the assumptions underlying FASD prevention policies and interventions, while well intentioned, can inadvertently contribute to racializing and stigmatizing Aboriginal people in Canada (and abroad for that matter). It also means that we continue to focus our energies and resources on who we think are “high risk groups” for FASD rather than on all women and on addressing the broad range of factors that influence their drinking.

For more on this topic, see previous posts:

Further Reading

Hunting, G. and Browne, A. (2012). Decolonizing Policy Discourse: Reframing the ‘Problem’ of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Women’s Health and Urban Life, 11(1): 35-53. (Free full-text here).

Salmon, A. (2004). ‘It takes a community’: Constructing Aboriginal mothers and children with FAS/FAE as objects of moral panic in/through a FAS/FAE prevention policy.  Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering, 6(1), 112-123. (Free full-text here).

Tait, C. L. (2009). Disruptions in nature, disruptions in society: Indigenous peoples of Canada and the ‘making’ of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In L. J. Kirmayer & G. Valaskaki (Eds.). Healing traditions: The mental health of Aboriginal peoples in Canada (pp. 196-222).Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Wilson, S. A. & Martell, R. (2003, October). The story of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: A Canadian First Nation’s response. Women & Environments International Magazine, 60/61: 35-36.

STOP Fetal Alcohol Syndrome/Fetal Alcohol Effects NOW, First Nations and Inuit health, Health Canada, 2002 – Inuktitut

2012 Alcohol and Pregnancy Media Campaign in Ontario

FASD Ontario Network of Expertise (FASD ONE) Campaign: August 27 – September 30, 2012

2012 Ontario Alcohol and Pregnancy Campaign

FASD Ontario Network of Expertise (FASD ONE) is a group that works to address issues related to FASD in the province of Ontario in Canada. The Prevention Working Group develops and promotes effective strategies, resources and programs that address alcohol use in pregnancy with a priority focus on high-risk groups.

One of the main activities of the Prevention Working Group this year has been the organization of media buys for an alcohol and pregnancy campaign in September 2012 (to coincide with International FASD Awareness Day on September 9th).

With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada – Ontario Region, the Group has bought media buys that include transit ads, mall ads, cinema ads, and information through web, print and social media in approximately 30 communities. The focus has been on provincial media buys that are usually beyond the scope of local groups.

You can learn more about the media buys on the Best Start Resource Centre website here. There are also links to short articles that organizations are welcome to include in newsletters, media releases, and other activities to support FASD awareness.

2008 Ontario Alcohol and Pregnancy Campaign

You can learn more about FASD ONE on the organization’s website and read the May 2012 newsletter here.