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Dr. Stephane McLachlan.

Steph McLachlan produced a public health video delivered in Cree by a raven puppet.

CBC: Cree-speaking raven puppet gives COVID-19 health information

April 13, 2020 — 

As CBC reports:

A Manitoba researcher is using part of his $500,000 federal grant to not only study how COVID-19 is affecting Indigenous communities but also to help them survive it.

One of the first projects Steph McLachlan commissioned is a public health video delivered in Cree by a raven puppet.

“We’ve kind of hit a sweet spot, which is finding something that’s useful from a health perspective but has value in itself in terms of something that’s funny and relevant from a cultural perspective,” said McLachlan, a professor in the University of Manitoba’s Department of Environment and Geography. 

McLachlan received funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, as part of a $26.7-million COVID-19 Rapid Response Program announced March 6 that provided funding for 47 research projects at 19 universities, covering both scientific research and public health campaigns….

McLachlan worked with elders and health care workers but also a puppeteer and a videographer to come up with the concept of a raven giving advice to people from remote First Nations.

While Ottawa does send out health information — sometimes even translating it into Indigenous languages — it rarely reflects native knowledge, traditions or humour, McLachlan said. 

“I thought that it would be kind of cool and creative to use puppets and to flip the narrative so that the health information is there but contextualized by Cree culture,” he said.

Read the full CBC story and watch the video here.

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