Based on the same 1991 Santé Québec survey, 77 % of Cree youth, aged 15 to 24 years, were regular or occasional smokers. In the communities, children as young as eight years old were observed smoking. More recent data, from 2001, show that 8 out of 10 pregnant women smoke. Among all Eeyouch 15 years of age and over, 53% smoke. This is more than twice the general Quebec rate of 24%.
From the survey conducted by the Public Health Department in all 9 Cree schools in 2004, we know that, of all students in Eeyou Istchee aged 9-18 or more, 60% of them are non-smokers. (Note: 34% are ex-smokers, and 26% are students who have never smoked.). However, by age 18 or more, 77% of youth are smokers, which tells us that not much has changed since 1991. The average age for students to smoke their first whole cigarette is 11 years.
The need for this project comes from the extremely high rates of smoking in the region – from 55% to 75% (varying by community), higher among youth than adults.
Objective 1: To train youth from all Cree communities as peer-educators for tobacco reduction by developing critical awareness about the harm of tobacco.
Objective 2: To transfer their new knowledge about the harm of tobacco to other youth, their families and the community.
Why is this program important?
The program is specifically designed for Cree adults and youth to encourage them to take the lead with their peers and to transfer their knowledge to their families. By engaging the population adults, youth, schools, youth centres etc… in reducing tobacco, the program can reach the population and to extend its reach to the whole community.
Smoking cessation program is a six step program:
Step 1 Learn about smoking, addiction & recovery
Step 2 Prepare your mind
Step 3 Prepare spiritually
Step 4 Prepare your body
Step 5 Prepare socially
Step 6 Plan your recovery
Over the years training has been offered and delivered to CHR’s, and to other entities within the Cree Territory
Also we have a similar version that is geared for Cree youth;
So far we trained:
104 youth peer-educators were trained in all Cree communities during intensive 4-day workshops using Smoking Sucks books specifically adapted for Eeyou Istchee.
The workshops were open to youth smokers as well as non-smokers. The key criterion was that they should be willing to learn more about the problems of tobacco and to share what they learned with their peers. Most of the youth who were smokers at the start of the workshops decided to quit during the workshop (a few wanted to quit later). All the non-smokers were reinforced in their decision not to smoke by what they learned.
Participants engaged in small group sessions, presenting topics to the whole group, preparing quizzes and game shows and other active learning sessions. They also distributed printed materials about preventing exposure to second-hand smoke, smoking cessation books for adults and youth, and copies of DVDs about quitting or not starting to smoke to their families and friends. Most (but not all) workshops concluded with an evening show for families and friends of the participants, as well as community leaders, health workers and teachers.
The workshops received an average rating of 95% from participants during an evaluation of responses to 21 criteria (the range was between 88% and 100%).
The immediate target all Cree communities. The intermediate target included all youth who took part in the presentations and quizzes at the schools (almost all high school students in Eeyou Istchee). The next target included the parents and siblings of the workshop participants who also learned about the benefits of being smoke-free. The ultimate target is the entire population in all communities, smokers and non-smokers, who might be influenced to quit smoking, reduce or be reinforced in their decision to be smoke-free.
Who delivers the program?
The program is delivered by the Public Health Department of the Cree Health Board, it is managed by Ron Shisheesh, and facilitated by Ron Shisheesh, Merryl Hammond and Rob Collins as trainers.
Enquiries about the program should be directed to:
Cessation Program Officer
Public Health Department of the James Bay Cree Territory
T. 819-855-9001 ext 22015