An animated video series tackling the ins-and-outs of consent – created by youth from across the three territories – is now available online.
The series is the latest endeavour of Foxy and Smash, parallel programs that educate Arctic youth about sexual health, healthy relationships, and sexuality.
“It’s all about consent,” said director of programming Amanda Kanbari, “about ways we can talk about consent, the nuances of it, as well as how to have really great conversations that allow everybody to be informed in their decision-making.”
The series, under development since 2018, was launched this month as part of a Consent is Smashing campaign. Five videos on Smash’s website feature different aspects of consent in English, French, and Gwich’in.
Animations were provided by Fresh Art & Design Inc, an Indigenous-owned graphic design business, and include northern creatures like a polar bear, an elk, and a mosquito.
Downloadable posters serve as an accompanying resource.
According to Kanbari, 75 Smash participants aged 13 to 18 helped to shape the videos over time.
“They decided what they wanted to talk about,” she explained.
“They created the posters and shared what drawings they wanted, and which animals they wanted to incorporate, because, of course, these are northern and Indigenous youth who wanted to talk about their culture, wanted to talk about the stories that they had.”
Learning about communication, sexual safety
Smash and Foxy participants even served as voice-over actors for the series.
Lana Sanders, 16, lives in Yellowknife and works as a peer facilitator for Foxy. She is one of two voices captured in the English videos.
“As I’ve travelled around the Northwest Territories, I have seen the lack of education on these things – and sexual health is something that I believe everyone should know,” Sanders said of the video series.
“Most people in their lifetime are probably going to have intercourse at some point in time, and I think it’s important to know how to stay safe, how to be comfortable, and just have the right resources.”
Sanders’ narrating partner, 18-year-old Quinten Marie of Yellowknife, said: “Especially up here, sexual health isn’t that big a thing. This organization as a whole is really important, helping youth learn about these things and having them feel safe in their bodies, and feel like they can have a choice over these matters.”
Both Sanders and Marie were voice-acting for the first time. Marie described the experience as “nerve-wracking” but ultimately rewarding.
While the materials are open to everyone, Kanbari hopes they find their way into northern schools.
“We are hoping students, as well as schools, take these resources to expand their conversations around consent beyond consent being a yes-or-no thing,” Kanbari said.
“These are really important conversations that I think youth truly want to have, considering youth created these posters, youth created these movies.
“They’re just looking for ways to actually have these conversations modelled, so this is a great jumping-off point.”