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Indigenizing Forum Theatre through a strength-based approach

Laurie-Ann Lines, Casadaya Marty, Shaun Anderson, Philip Stanley, Kelly Stanley, Cindy Jardine

2021 Canada

Strength-based approaches with Indigenous populations are recognized as empowering and promoting change, but there are minimal published explicit examples in Indigenous health in Canada. Working with three First Nations community partners in Alberta and the Northwest Territories, we explored an Indigenous strength-based application of Forum Theatre as a tool for mental wellness. Forum Theatre is differentiated by the interactive participation of the audience, who can change the play outcome. Collectively, community members were trained as community facilitators and used an Indigenous strength-based approach to indigenize Forum Theatre activities. We share strengths highlighted in our approach including inclusivity, relationality, language revitalization, intergenerational connectivity, team facilitation, partnerships, protocols, safety, empowerment, resilience, community connection, community-specific strengths, and relational responsibilities. An Indigenous strength-based approach must include the Indigenous group leading the project and has multiple benefits to the participants, facilitators, and community at-large, particularly when intertwined with relational, communal, and cultural assets.

First Nations, indigenization, Indigenous wellness, mental wellness, strengths-based, theatre of the oppressed