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Federal funding awarded to U of R researchers delving into pressing social, environmental, technological, and economic issues

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: September 2, 2020 5:00 a.m.

Dr. Kara Fletcher is launching a collaborative project called Stories to Tell: A Pilot Podcast Project for Youth with Lived Experience of Crystal Meth Use in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Dr. Kara Fletcher is launching a collaborative project called Stories to Tell: A Pilot Podcast Project for Youth with Lived Experience of Crystal Meth Use in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Photo: stock

While much of Canada is navigating an opioid epidemic, the Prairies are also contending with a crystal meth crisis. 

The drug is cheap, easy to obtain, and is highly addictive. According to police, meth-related crimes in the Prairies are also continuing to rise. Yet, we rarely hear directly from people who use crystal meth. 

To provide an opportunity for others to learn about the experiences of those who use crystal meth and what is needed to navigate the crystal meth crisis in Saskatoon, the University of Regina’s Dr. Kara Fletcher is launching a collaborative project called Stories to Tell: A Pilot Podcast Project for Youth with Lived Experience of Crystal Meth Use in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  

Funded through a $74,935 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council’s (SSHRC) Insight Development Grant, Fletcher says the goal of the collaborative pilot project is to respond directly to the current crystal meth crisis in Saskatoon. 

“Our team will help to document the perspectives of youth, aged 18 to 25, who have lived experiences of crystal meth and polysubstance use as they develop and produce a podcast,” says Fletcher, who adds that the research team includes faculty members from the University’s Faculty of Social Work, Prairie Harm Reduction, and Chokecherry Studios – a community-led, youth-focused non-profit organization offering art programming to young and emerging artists in the core neighbourhoods of Saskatoon. Both community organizations will help recruit participants with lived experiences and help facilitate the development of the community advisory committee and ongoing relationships with Elders. 

Fletcher, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work’s Saskatoon campus and director of the Faculty’s Social Policy Research Centre, explains that hearing the perspectives of youth and young adults about their own experiences of crystal meth is key.  

“We want to hear directly what issues they feel require public attention, then, through interviews with the production team and listener surveys, we want to find out how listeners understand these stories,” says Fletcher. “What we’re trying to dig into is if a community-based digital storytelling project has the potential to address systemic issues as they relate to crystal meth use.” 

The podcast, and all project results, will be accessible through a website, and the Saskatoon community will be invited to attend live tapings, community listening events, and community forums to provide input and share experiences. 

“We’re hoping this project will provide a platform for youth with lived experience of crystal meth use, reduce stigma through informing the broader community and raising public awareness, and add to a very small body of research on the potential for podcasts to be vehicles for social change,” says Fletcher. 

Dr. Kathleen McNutt, Vice-President (Research) at the University of Regina says SSHRC’s Insight Development Grants enable University faculty to work with and mentor students, and to collaborate with community partners in Canada and abroad. 

“The federal government’s support also provides our scholars with the resources to sink their teeth into research projects that help them to discover the effects of and find creative solutions to today’s most pressing social, cultural, technological, environmental, and economic issues,” says McNutt. 

Along with Fletcher, Insight Development Grants were also awarded to four other University of Regina researchers: 

Dr. Simon Granovsky-Larsen, associate professor in the department of politics and international studies, was awarded $70,109 for his project The security practices of Canadian extractive companies in Central America. 

Dr. Cristyne Hebert, assistant professor in the Faculty of Education, received $64,630 for her project Telling Stories in Multilingual Classrooms: Teacher Professional Development for Multimodal Learning and Assessment. 

Dr. Karla McManus, assistant professor in the visual arts department, was awarded $62,673 for her project Flight of Fancy or Fact? Producing, Circulating, and Viewing Ornithological Art and Photography as Ecological Knowledge. 

Dr. Lisa Milne, assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work, was awarded $52,452, for her project Supporting Workers to Build Resilience in Trauma Impacted Children: A Saskatchewan Pilot Study in a Residential Program 

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