June 15th 2017


In the end, it's your choice...

Nunavik is the northern region of the province of Quebec, Canada. It is home to approximately 12 000 persons, spread in 14 communities along its 3000-km coastline. Most of the population is indigenous, and Inuktitut is the language most spoken at home. Birth rates are high (3.22 children/women, more than double the Canadian average), driving population growth common to many aboriginal communities in Canada. While the last century brought drastic change to life in the Arctic, many Inuit still identify with traditional values and ways of life. Traditional activities such as hunting, fishing and harvesting berries are still central to the life of Nunavimmiut. Transmission of knowledge, communication, the organization of society among others, are rooted in indigenous norms and values foreign to Canadians of European origin.

In 2013, declaration rates for Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections in Nunavik are of 4225,6 and 2365 per 100 000, which is respectively 9 and 73 times higher than those reported for the province of Quebec (note that rate not adjusted for age); and these gaps have been observed for more than 20 years.

In the context of persistently high rates of bacterial STIs, the Nunavik Board of Health and Social Services is launching a communication campaign, using social marketing and social media to influence the social norm surrounding screening. According to the needs assessment performed in the region, the barriers to screening emerge from multiple sources, namely clinical services that are perceived as non-confidential, lack of knowledge about STBI and fear of psychosocial complications of a positive diagnosis (shame, relationship issues...). 

The Nunavik Board of Health and Social Services (NBHSS) is engaging in a communication strategy with the agency aimed at reducing Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) rates amongst youth 15 to 25 years old in the region. The purpose of the project is to increase screening services use and decrease the incidence of STBI in youth in Nunavik.

Given the epidemiology of STI's, the population targeted by the intervention is youth aged 15-25 years in the region of Nunavik. According to census data, this represents 2500 individuals. Although not broken down by age groups, ninety percent of the population of Nunavik identifies as Inuit, which is probably true of local youth. Following analysis of epidemiological data and needs assessment, it was thought that males would benefit most from the campaign. Couples are the secondary target. Women, overly touched by the burden of STI's, directly and indirectly, should be in sync with the message appealing men to get involved and accountable.

The campaign is 100% web-based, using social marketing to reach its audience. Facebook, in particular, has been widely adopted by northern communities; virtually every teenager has access to a device (own or borrowed) and Internet connection (if not home, there is free Wi-Fi at the airport in every community, which is widely used by youth)

The team built a series of questions for youth, aiming to make them laugh, talk about screening in a positive way, and stress the importance of having a partner that is tested and treated. In particular, the production team hopes to be able to influence young men to get screened by displaying it as an asset to be desirable to young women.

Then, the agency team visited 4 communities in Nunavik (Akulivik, Inukjuak, Kuujjuaq and Kangirsualujuaq) to film capsules promoting screening for STI, featuring youth from the community and the group "Twin Flames" (singer/songwriters and aboriginal activist popular among the target audience). The crew filmed interactions and testimonies on screening and sexual health. Although a frame for interviews was created, participants were welcomed to be spontaneous and creative - to ensure cultural appropriateness and ownership of the campaign. The videos and other visuals are displayed on Facebook thru CheckUpProject Facebook page. Stakeholders are expected to share the material proposed.

The strategy also implies collaboration with the department of health of Nunavut, a neighboring Inuit region, to use and promote the "" website. This platform is a website with general information on sexual health for Inuit youth. A link to the website will appear after youth watches the videos, and is promoted through programmatic advertising, to increase awareness of the existence of the website. Promotion of a culturally safe platform with sexual health information answers to a gap identified by youth in the needs assessment, in relation to knowledge.

  • Videos, made by youth - for youth, shared through social media (social marketing) will modify social norm about screening.

What we expect from youth:
  • To watch the videos that will be shared on social media, through our partners, local stakeholders and individuals/relatives and friends of those featuring in the videos promoting screening
  • To consult the website to get information on sexual health. When exposed to the campaign videos and programmatic advertising youth will click on the provided link and be redirected to the website. 
  • To access screening services that are adapted to their needs will share their positive experience with their friends and sexual partners. 

The material harvested is gradually released on social media (a Facebook page, specifically for the project), with teasers in the days following the visits, to capitalize on the buzz created by the presence of Twin Flames in the communities. The campaign is planned to last 3 more months. The communication team is also ensuring moderation of posts in social media for the duration of the campaign. While the videos hold some informative content (on screening process), their main function is to influence social norm.  

The partnership between public and private stakeholders (NBHSS vs the agency) always has its challenges. In the case of the current project, the public NBHSS having a great deal of resources particularly local alliances, knowledge of the region and stakeholders, as well as the capacity to leverage financially as needed, and the private firm the agency having momentum, flexibility, creativity and a great connection with the target audience and the group Twin Flames, both groups were able to move beyond irritants such as delays in approbation, agency's regulations that got in the way of innovation to work towards a common goal.  

Three months post-intervention, Nunavik youth perceive that getting tested is congruent with the social norm, these changes being reflected by an increased score by 20% in the "thoughts about screening" questionnaire.

We have been able to reach 73% of our target audience. The page has one thousand followers.

The main video has been watched over 21 000 times and most of the content reached out 6 000 youth per publication.

(notice: the population targeted by the intervention is youth aged 15-25 years in the region of Nunavik. According to census data, this represents 2500 individuals. Our Facebook strategy aim youth from 13 to 35 whose represents ~9000 individuals.)

See more details: CheckUpProject
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