Aboriginal Adolescents, Critical Media Health Literacy, and the Creation of a Graphic Novel Health Education Tool

Robin M. Wilmot, Deborah L. Begoray, Elizabeth M. Banister


As Coyote tossed his eyes the next time, the ravens swooped,

swift as arrows from a strong bow.

One of them snatched one eye and the other raven caught the other eye.

"Quoh! Quoh! Quoh'," they laughed,

and flew away to the Sun-dance camp. (Quintasket, 1933)

The knowledge mobilization project involving Aboriginal students described in this article is an extension of a multi-phase, longitudinal, interdisciplinary research project aimed at understanding the processes through which adolescents develop critical media health literacy (CMHL) (Wharf Higgins & Begoray, 2012; Wharf Higgins, Begoray, Beer, Harrison, & Collins, 2012). The primary purpose of this project was to create a culturally relevant CMHL health education graphic novel. An additional purpose was to develop pedagogical approaches to be used to stimulate discussion around media-perpetuated health messages with Aboriginal adolescents: Like Coyote, they too have had their eyes snatched. In brief, we collaborated with Aboriginal students to create culturally sensitive material representative of their identities as media-affected adolescents in the 21st century. In turn, the dialogic process utilized during our project appeared to be a viable pedagogical approach when working with CMHL and Aboriginal adolescents, a supposition that will be the subject of our further research in the fall of 2013. Throughout the project, the authors, all of whom are non-Indigenous, were guided in their use of Indigenous ways of knowing by the Aboriginal education community.

Keywords: Aboriginal adolescent health; health education; critical media health literacy; graphic novels as health education tools

Author Note:

The authors gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Canadian Institues of Health Research (CIHR 293119) in the funding of this project.


Aboriginal health adolescents Critical Media Health Literacy, health education pedagogy

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