Crown prosecutor, author and public health leader, Harold Johnson, from northern Saskatchewan to speak at LEPH2018.
Born and raised in northern Saskatchewan, Harold Johnson has a Master of Law degree from Harvard University, 30 years’ experience in the practice of law including 8 years most recently as a Crown Prosecutor. Based in La Ronge, Saskatchewan, he is now leading the Northern Alcohol Strategy, developing a comprehensive alcohol strategy for Northern Saskatchewan that spans prevention, treatment and harm reduction including broad public policy issues: “it is about breaking down government Silos and working across jurisdictions”.
He has served in the Canadian Navy, and worked in mining and logging. Johnson is the author of five works of fiction, several of which are set in northern Saskatchewan against a background of traditional Cree mythology. He is also the author of two non-fiction titles. His most recent work, Firewater, is a “passionate call to action, [examining] alcohol—its history, the myths surrounding it, and its devastating impact on Indigenous people. Drawing on his years of experience as a Crown Prosecutor in Treaty 6 territory, Johnson challenges readers to change the story we tell ourselves about the drink that goes by many names—booze, hooch, spirits, sauce, and the evocative “firewater.” Confronting the harmful stereotype of the “lazy, drunken Indian,” and rejecting medical, social, and psychological explanations of the roots of alcoholism, Johnson cries out for solutions, not diagnoses, and shows how alcohol continues to kill so many. Provocative, irreverent, and keenly aware of the power of stories, Firewater calls for people to make decisions about their communities and their lives on their own.