Impact Evaluation Findings from Project Choices in Manitoba


Project CHOICES is a program in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that works with girls and women of any age who are not currently pregnant, drink alcohol, and are sexually active. The goal of the program is to reduce the risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy through choosing healthy behaviours around alcohol and birth control use.

This infographic summarizes changes for participants three months after completing the program.

Project CHOICES is based on motivational interviewing which is a counseling approach that is respectful, non-judgmental and client-centred. Motivational interviewing allows health care providers and clients to explore possible areas of change, discuss strategies that make sense for the client and their life circumstances, and provides encouragement and support.

The program considers three different routes to reducing the risk of an alcohol-exposed pregnancy: (1) reducing alcohol use (2) using effective contraception (3) reducing alcohol use and using effective contraception.

Learn more about the evaluation from Healthy Child Manitoba. Check out the program website to learn more about the program, how to make a referral, and for resources on alcohol, pregnancy and birth control.

word on the street

“With Child Without Alcohol” Website and Resources from Manitoba

Be With Child Without Alcohol

The With Child Without Alcohol website was developed by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries with the support of Healthy Child Manitoba. (Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries is part of the provincial government and responsible for the distribution and sale of alcohol, including social responsibility initiatives).

The website describes FASD as a shared responsibility with an emphasis on the idea that “It takes a village to have a healthy pregnancy.”

Be With Child Without Alcohol was developed to provide women and the villages in their lives with information about alcohol use during pregnancy to help them prevent alcohol-related disabilities like Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Together we can help prevent FASD.


The website includes information about alcohol and pregnancy, FASD, pregnancy and addiction, and where to find support.

Information on the website is available as a downloadable guide – in four languages: English, French, Cree and Ojibway.

cree booklet

French booklet

English booklet

Living Well: FASD and Mental Health Conference: Call for Abstracts

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS - 2014 Conference (Final)

Healthy Child Manitoba, in partnership with the Canada Northwest FASD Partnership, will be hosting the Living Well: FASD and Mental Health conference to be held at the Winnipeg Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba from November 5-7, 2014.

The Living Well: FASD and Mental Health conference will bring awareness to issues related to mental health and mental illness for those most directly affected by FASD and will foster a commitment to advance the knowledge and implementation of evidence informed strategies and programs.

Participants will learn about current research and best practices in responding to complex issues such as:

  • Mental health and substance use for pregnant and parenting women
  • Mental wellness for those living with FASD
  • Case management for individuals living with FASD and mental health co-morbidities
  • Diagnosing FASD and co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Emotional wellbeing for caregivers of individuals living with FASD

See the call for abstracts here. Deadline for submission is April 25, 2014.


“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:

Girls, Women and Alcohol: Making Informed Choices resource from Healthy Child Manitoba

FASD prevention resource from the Government of Manitoba

Pages from alcohol_women

Healthy Child Manitoba has developed a resource called Girls, Women and Alcohol: Making Informed Choices which is designed to help women make healthy and well-informed choices about their alcohol use. The resource was written and reviewed by women for women to provide useful information about alcohol.

The resource is 16 pages and has six sections:

  1. Low Risk Drinking
  2. Risks of Heavy Drinking
  3. Individual Responses to Alcohol
  4. Other Factors
  5. Support for People Close to You
  6. Resources

The resource states: “There is no known safe amount of alcohol, at any stage of pregnancy, that will completely prevent the risk of having a child with FASD.”  (p. 10)

This is a great resource as it’s not focused solely on health risks of alcohol or intended to stop women from drinking alcohol. Instead, it focuses on factors and issues that women might consider in making healthy decisions for themselves.

Pages from alcohol_women-2Pages from alcohol_women-3

FORSAKEN: The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry

Forsaken-ES cover

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry was established in September 2010 to inquire into the “(BC Missing Women) Investigation and events leading up to the arrest and conviction of Robert W. Pickton and a broader examination of the manner in which cases involving missing women are investigated.”

The final report, including 63 recommendations, by Commissioner Wally Oppal was released in mid-December.

Oppal begins his report by looking at the context of the lives of the women. He states:

Each missing and murdered woman had a unique life and story. At the same time, this group of women shares the experience of one or more disadvantaging social and economic factors: violence, poverty, addiction, racism, mental health issues, intergenerational impact of residential schools and so on. While not every woman experienced each of these conditions, most had experienced several of them. (p. 12)

While the story of the missing and murdered women might seem unrelated to FASD prevention, health and social service providers who work with women who have experienced (and continue to experience) these interlinking factors – violence, poverty, addiction, racism, mental health issues, intergenerational impact of residential schools – would argue differently. Many women who are at risk for having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy are facing one or more of these issues.

For example, Susan Astley and her colleagues conducted a seminal piece of research in Washington State, in which they followed up with 160 women who had children diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome. Forty of the women could not be contacted due to confidentiality issues, another 40 had died or disappeared; of the 80 women they interviewed, they found:

  • 100% had been seriously sexually, physically, or emotionally abused;
  • 80% had a major mental illness, with the most prevalent (77%) being Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
  • 80% still lived with men who did not want them to stop drinking; and
  • 46% were still at risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.

As another example – some of you may be familiar with the InSight Mentoring Program in Manitoba, an outreach program that provides intensive support to women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby and have substance use problems. Of the first 60 women to enroll in the program, 100% reported experiencing abuse or violence at some point in their lives (Umlah & Grant, 2003).

These research findings illustrate the importance of  recognizing and understanding the role violence and other related factors  plays in the lives of pregnant women struggling with their use of drugs or alcohol. Reports like the one from the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry serve as a reminder that these issues are not isolated events or confined to pregnancy and require broader systemic changes.

You can download the full report from For recent media coverage, see:


Astley SJ, Bailey D, Talbot T, Clarren SK (2000). Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) primary prevention through FAS Diangosis: II. A comprehensive profile of 80 birth mothers of children with FAS. Alcohol & Alcoholism, (35) 5:509-519.

Oppal, Wally T. (2012). Forsaken: the Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry: Executive Summary. Available from:

Umlah, C. & T. Grant (2003). Intervening to prevent prenatal alcohol and drug exposure: the Manitoba experience in replicating a paraprofessional model. Envision: The Manitoba Journal of Child Welfare, 2(1): 1-12.

FASD Awareness Day 2012: Round-up of Activities across Canada

Here are just a few of the events and activities held across the country on September 9, 2012.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland – Breakfast at Nunatsiavut’s Health and Social Development building. Listen to the CBC Radio coverage here.

St. John’s, Newfoundland – Pancake breakfast and ringing of bells  on the steps of St. John’s City Hall. See the news coverage here.

Thunder Bay, Ontario – 4th Annual Mini-Powwow held at Marina Park. See the news coverage here.

Kenora, Ontario – Information booth at Kenora Shoppers Mall. See news coverage here.

Timmins, Ontario – Purple-pancake breakfast at the Timmins Native Friendship Centre, including activities for kids and mocktails. See news coverage here.

Fort Frances, Ontario – Gathering at the Circle of Life Centre in Fort Frances. See more here.

St. Thomas, Ontario – Bells rang. Hear a radio clip here.

Mississauga, Ontario – Peel Public Health (serving the areas of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga) and other community organizations host an education event with mocktails. See the news coverage here and here.

Kingston, Ontario – Breakfast and networking hosted by the Kingston FASD Action Network. Dr. James Reynolds from Queen’s University presents on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder: Basic Science Research to Treatment Strategies. See the news coverage here.

Ottawa, Ontario – BBQ, display booths, games, and drumming at Heron Park. See the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Coalition of Ottawa website here.

Portage La Prairie, Manitoba – Free BBQ hosted by the Portage and District FASD Coalition. See the news coverage here and here. The Portage Friendship Centre‘s Insight Mentoring Program held a feast to honor FASD Day and Grandparents Day. See the news coverage here.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – Saskatoon held its annual FASD Walk for Awareness and is hosting the Fetal Alcohol Canadian Expertise Research Roundtable and FASDLive Conference this week. The Métis Addictions Council of Saskatchewan Inc. (MACSI), the FASD Support Network of Saskatchewan, and the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute are just a few of the organizations involved this year (see the news coverage here and here). The theme for this year was “FASD: Let’s talk about it. Groups also worked to spread the word through Twitter by using the hashtag #FASD, with a goal of making FASD a trending topic for the day.

Melfort, Saskatchewan – A mocktail event at the Marguerite Riel Centre.

Image via Barrhead Leader Facebook page

Barrhead, Alberta – Community awareness event, proclamation and walk. See the coverage here.

Calgary, Alberta – AltaGas Calgary Fetal Alcohol Network Run/Walk FASD

Edmonton, Alberta – Edmonton and area Fetal Alcohol Network, in partnership with many community agencies, hosted a flashmob at Kingsway Garden Mall. See photos on EFAN’s website here.

Lethbridge, Alberta – Music, speakers, yummy treats, fun and games at Galt Gardens.

Whitecourt, Alberta – Gathering at Friendship Park. Click here for more.

Image via

Vernon, British Columbia – FASD Day at Polson Park. An awareness walk, music from The Shags and Kat and The Valentines, lunch and speakers. See the news coverage here.

Comox Valley, British Columbia – Community Brain Fair at Simms Park, Courtenay. Bounce Mania and other activities for kids and information for parents and care-givers. See the news coverage here and here.

Nanaimo, British Columbia – Cake and an information display. Learn more on the Nanaimo FASD Society website.

Quesnel, British Columbia – FASD Awareness Walk and Pancake Breakfast. Check out the photos on the Quesnel Tillicum Society Facebook page and see clips of Metis jiggers and FASD Awareness Jeopardy on YouTube.

Dawson Creek, British Columbia – City proclamation. Click here for more.

Terrace, British Columbia – Free pancake breakast, sirens and bells at 9:09; family activities, entertainment, FASD info and BBQ at George Little Park. See a schedule of the day’s events here.

Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories – Parade hosted by Dehcho Health and Social Services, the Village of Fort Simpson and the RCMP.

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories – “Stop.Check.Be Sure! ” event on Friday which offered free pregnancy tests in women’s public washrooms. Free mocktails for women at the Hot Shots Pub, The Ravens Pub and the Boston Pizza Sports Bar. See the news coverage here.

Hay River, Northwest Territories – Information sheets distributed at the liquor store and restaurants; a short quiz on the TV in the hospital waiting room throughout September; Lunch and Learn presentation.

Inuvik, Northwest Territories – Community baby shower at Ingamo Hall. See the news coverage here.

Check out this awareness video developed by the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services on YouTube.

And, as a finale to this roundup, you may want to read a message from the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, from September 9, 2012 on International FASD Awareness Day.

For previous round-ups, see FASD Awareness Day 2011 and FASD Awareness Day 2010.