Speaker 0 00:00:01 Hi, well,
Speaker 1 00:00:02 We're back for another one
Speaker 0 00:00:04 We share are who we talking with today.
Speaker 1 00:00:07 Okay. This is, uh, an incredible conversation and it's a little bit outside of our state water safety coalition scope. Today, we are talking with Dr. Steve Beerman from Canada, Dr. Bierman, uh, is a giant in global drowning prevention circles and has had a huge impact, um, in Canada and, uh, all over the world. Um, today, Dr. Berman is going to be talking about the Canadian drowning prevention coalition and Canada as a nation, but I think it's just important for everyone to realize that, uh, California is actually has actually more people than Canada. Um, and so while we are talking about a national perspective with Steve, it is important that a lot of these lessons are going to be very applicable to, uh, you know, our group in California, but also groups, um, who are looking at statewide water safety coalitions. So tizzy, he does talk a lot about the world health organization and some work that's come out of the, who can you provide a little bit of context on, on what we should know about before we listened to the interview?
Speaker 0 00:01:17 Absolutely. There are several documents, important reports that the world health organization who has put out of which Dr. Bearman has been closely involved. And the first is the 2014 global report on drowning. And then there's a follow-up report, an implementation guide for drowning prevention that came out in 2017. These are fantastic reference documents for you to consider as, uh, putting together a coalition or in thinking about strategy and how to move work forward, particularly on a state or a bigger perspective.
Speaker 1 00:01:59 Okay. Here is our conversation with Dr. Steve Berman, Dr. Bearman. It's so nice to see you and talk with you about the, um, incredible work that you've done in Canada and that others have done in Canada. Would you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about, um, your water safety story and maybe even how you got started?
Speaker 2 00:02:25 Uh, okay. Uh, I'm Dr. Steve Bierman. Uh, I'm a family physician by training in Canada, um, and, uh, have been engaged in the drowning prevention activities in Canada for decades, um, and, uh, associated with the NGOs that have a strong connection to this issue, but also, um, some independent work, uh, both, uh, in Canada and outside of Canada. Um, and so, um, the, I'm not sure whether you meant the story of how I got into this originally or whether, how we got the coalition going, but, um, I got into this, um, because I was a lifeguard and a lifeguard instructor in my youth. Um, and, uh, I had some incredible mentors and some people that I looked up to who were going down the path of inquiry about why do we do what we do and how do we do what we do and what is the data behind this?
Speaker 2 00:03:25 And what's the evidence behind this. And I kind of got into that. Um, and so that's really what triggered the lifelong sort of, uh, quest of this, which still drives the quest today is, you know, how much data do we have and how what's the quality of it. And, uh, is it, um, the ideal data or not? And, uh, so, um, um, that's kind of how I began and how I continue. Um, and, uh, uh, you know, I really look for what is the level of evidence and what is the support for what we do. And there's this, you know, as, as not just this area in much of what we do in society, especially in the health area, uh, the amount of evidence we have is, uh, often wanting
Speaker 0 00:04:10 That's great. I, I just want to ask a follow-up about level of evidence. When you say level of evidence, are you talking about evidence around the data about what happens in a drowning incident, or is it about level of evidence in terms of the interventions that you take on? Or is it both?
Speaker 2 00:04:31 It is both. So, um, you know, we can, dis-aggregate our, uh, fatality, uh, data, and, uh, when you, dis-aggregate, it, you start to see holes, uh, in that, and in our country, you know, I couldn't tell you with precision, um, what percentage of the drownings in Canada are indigenous, for example, and I should, you know, we should know that because we know it's a big issue. Um, and we know it's a disproportionate, um, uh, a quality issue, uh, but the exact, um, numbers are difficult to ascertain because at the data collection points, sometimes the data that we need is not easy to collect and obtain and record. Um, and so, um, I think that there's lots of challenges there with regard to assessing interventions. Um, I think that's hard work and really hard work, and it's hard to do it in a robust way. Um, and, um, I think we lack evidence on much of the interventional side. Um, at least, you know, we don't have robust, uh, high quality evidence on the interventional side for most of the interventions that are recommended and some of those interventions have been recommended for decades. Um, and we still are wanting on the evidence side of that.
Speaker 1 00:05:52 What role, what role would I could a coalition play in advancing evidence in either of those spheres, the, the data collection side or the intervention, um, evaluation space?
Speaker 2 00:06:07 Well, I think that coalitions can amplify, um, and put focus on what the, who global report recommended. Um, and that was that every jurisdiction member state, and if we're talking nationally should be collecting data in a reasonable manner so that it can inform preventative activities. Um, and so I think that, um, advocating for the collection of, um, adequate data so that it can inform, uh, prevention would be a good start. Um, I think the coalitions can assist in educating people about terminology, um, and about, um, the, the, the components of this. So I, I like to use, as you probably saw from my answer to the questions you provided, I like to use the framework that the, who global report provided, which is community actions, you know, what do we know about community actions and what's the evidence for those community actions? Um, what do we know about policy and regulation, um, and what is the evidence for the policy and regulation piece? Uh, and then there's the research piece, uh, you know, what, where our knowledge gaps and how can we most effectively, um, reduce some of those knowledge gaps? I think the coalitions, all the coalitions, whether they're national coalition state, or provincial coalitions or community coalitions, should probably try to embrace that, um, framework, that foundational piece that the, who provided us with, um, and, um, and look at their situation in their community, their state, or their nation from those perspectives.
Speaker 0 00:07:47 That's great. Thank you, Steve. Really appreciate your global awareness around what is going on with drowning prevention and that reference to the who, if you could just talk a little bit about Canada and, uh, what the structure is in Canada.
Speaker 2 00:08:09 So I assume what you're meaning is what's the structure of the national coalition, because we have some community coalitions in some what you would call state provincial coalition. Um, and we have a national coalition. So the national coalition, uh, is essentially, um, an, uh, on ad hoc, a not very formalized, uh, group of multi-sectoral participants. And we went out of our way not to make the members, um, so they are participants, um, and it is led by a steering group, which is also a multi-sectorial, uh, and the steering group has appointed a number of working groups that are, uh, addressing some key focus targets, which were identified through a public input process. Um, and so we did an online public input processes. What are the big issues? Um, we provided some background data, um, and asked the public to respond to that. And we then ranked those, um, those issues and chose the top, uh, small number, uh, out of a very much larger number. Uh, and so we have multi-sectoral working groups on each of those key focus targets.
Speaker 1 00:09:23 And I ask why you chose to call the people who were involved in the coalition participants and not members,
Speaker 2 00:09:31 Um, that the thinking of the D at the day at the time was that we didn't want people who were in or out. We w we didn't want some people to, like, we had the idea that if it was going to be called members, then you would have to join something, signed something you would have to pay something. There would have to be a commitment, um, to the continuation of your participation. We didn't want that. We wanted it to be more fluid, more flexible, more inclusive. Um, and so that's why we chose the word participant. Um, and we didn't want there to be a membership and a membership structure. We wanted the focus of the organization to be on the impact and not on the entity. Right.
Speaker 1 00:10:16 Um, you have mentioned the word multi-sectorial multiple times when describing the Canadian drowning prevention coalition. Can you tell us a little bit about who are the players, um, you, who are the players involved and who are the players in leadership within the coalition?
Speaker 2 00:10:34 Um, so I frequently define the multi-sectorial piece as I, I don't always get this exactly the same, but I'm pretty good at saying this. So, um, NGOs that have, uh, have, uh, uh, connection and alignment to the issue government and the sectors of government that have an alignment to the issue, academics that have an alignment to the issue. Um, and when I say those, some of those participants are individuals who work within those other structures, like NGO structures, government structures, uh, academic structures, and some of them are the entities themselves. Um, the, the part of government or the part, a department, a department of academic institution, or an NGO that is, um, got a big focus on the water safety issues. In addition to that, we have industry, um, and then the communication, um, professionals that work in media, uh, and in the delivery of message, uh, the creation of messages, those kinds of, uh, entities, and then what I call civil society.
Speaker 2 00:11:40 Um, there's, I'm sure you've experienced this as well, but when there's misadventure or disastrous outcomes of events related to drowning in communities, often the community gets together and a, uh, something, uh, a group of some kind, they come under various names, but it's often in the name of a person who died as a result of a drowning or aquatic misadventure, those that, that sort of collection of, of civic related groups, I call civil society representatives. And we have many of those in Canada, um, that have that raise a bit of money and, uh, have a project in the community either to bring recollection or memory to the person or the events have resulted around the drowning event or for some broader, um, you know, one of the bigger, uh, civil society components of our coalition is the lifeguard for sorry, life jacket for a life movement, um, which was started by, um, uh, the death of an individual, um, whose, um, um, mother happens to be a lawyer who happens to work for the government of Canada. Uh, and she is a member as a, she's a participant, uh, in the coalition, the movement of life jacket for life is part of the coalition's activity and support. Um, and she is actually a member of the steering committee. Um, and so one could say that she she's one of the representatives from the civil society sector. So,
Speaker 1 00:13:13 Okay. I really, I really do appreciate the way that you differentiated, um, that in the coalition, there are individuals who are quite passionate about this and may fit into one of those, um, into one of those categories, whether it's NGO, government, um, an academic, but that you also have purchased patient from institutions, right, regardless of who the individual is in a leadership role in that institution, but you would have, you know, I would imagine some government ministries or, or government departments that are always there, or some academic institutions or NGOs that are always involved. And I think it's important to, to realize for others who are building these sorts of things that, um, that institutional support is quite important now,
Speaker 2 00:13:59 Yes, it can be helpful. I mean, we have, some of the working groups are actually led by an NGO as opposed to an, an individual. Um, and so the NGO is the leader of that, um, working group area. And, um, but in most of them, it's an individual. The individuals may come from one of the multi-sectoral components. The other challenge with the drowning issue that we all face is that there are people who are, or organizations and entities that are aligned to drowning prevention, but don't know they are aligned. Um, so when we talk to government of people associated with climate change and with, uh, disaster response and disaster prevention, they often don't think about it from a drowning prevention perspective. Um, whereas that's pretty clear to, and pretty clear to you. It may not be clear to them. Um, and so some of the way we frame this is to, uh, try and be as inclusive as we can, and to be as educational as we can to, to make the bandwidth of this, uh, preventative activity as wide as possible, and to engage as many stakeholders who sometimes didn't realize that they were a stakeholder in this issue.
Speaker 0 00:15:16 Great. Um, Steve, I want to dig in with one more question about the structure of the coalition, and I'm curious about community or provincial coalitions and the relationship to the national coalition.
Speaker 2 00:15:32 So some, there was some community coalitions that were in existence before the national coalition existed, and there was one provincial coalition in Manitoba, one of the provinces of Canada that we existed before. Um, and, um, so there, there is no formal, um, connection. There's no, uh, you know, coalitions don't have to report to anybody, but to the people that they are trying to serve. Um, and so we've tried to incorporate, uh, representation from the provincial and the communities, uh, inside the national coalition. So nearly all of the, um, coalitions that exist at the community and national level have an individual or an organizational representation in the national coalition. And we we've created early in the national coalition. We created some framework guidance for community coalition formation. Um, and so in one of the earliest additions, like the second or the third edition of the plan, there is a plan for creating community coalitions, uh, because although the who report recommended that nations have coalitions that focus on drowning prevention, um, we we've kind of come to the conclusion or maybe that's a bit strong, but we've wondered whether it wouldn't be more effective if we could rewrite that piece of the WHL report.
Speaker 2 00:16:59 If we hadn't said community coalitions, because drowning prevention is really a community activity and you don't save lives at the national level, you save lives by doing things at the community level. And so it might've been more valuable if I could rewind that clock a bit for us to have broadened that, um, recommendation on coalition, um, and point organizational piece to be broader than national. Um, and so we, we have no formal connection between a provincial coalition and the national organization, but there, but there's informal, um, collaboration.
Speaker 0 00:17:40 That's great. Thank you.
Speaker 1 00:17:42 And you tell us, um, moving on from the structure, what are the main outputs that the has? What, what is the coalition actually do?
Speaker 2 00:17:53 So we really focus on one output and that is to produce the Canadian drowning prevention plan. Um, and that's really the focus. Uh, we are forced to do a couple of other things where we, we are, we communicate with our participants via an annual report, and we do that annual poor, both in writing online and writing. Uh, but we also do it, um, via, uh, uh, zoom, uh, uh, conference, uh, a meeting, which is 45 minutes long. Um, and so, um, we are forced to do this annual report piece, but really the focus of the coalition, the job of the coalition, the output of the coalition is to produce the plan to help us do that. We have a couple of side activities. Um, one is, we've had lots of difficulty engaging government, and we, you know, one of the recommendations all the way back to the who report was in trying to engage government, um, uh, where possible and where that's effective and helpful.
Speaker 2 00:18:54 So we do an annual meeting with the government of Canada. Um, and we've done this now for five years. I think where we actually, we used to do it face to face. I would go to Ottawa. Uh, we would sit down in a meeting room. We would invite, um, aligned, uh, activities of the government of Canada. And we would inform them that this is the drowning issue. We would show them data. We would provide them with information about how they could end, might connect, and then we would seek connection opportunities. We now do this virtually and it's much better virtually actually. Um, and we, it's one of those things that Jesus, we were stupid to try and do this in person, um, because we get much better attendance actually, when we do a virtually, because people don't have to leave their offices and, um, uh, they, they are much more attentive and the, the pickup rate on how they can align and how they can get involved has actually been greater since we moved that event to, um, a virtual event.
Speaker 2 00:19:51 So that's one of the sort of activities that we do that is a side piece. Um, we, we have a couple of other, um, um, things that might seem like they're disconnected to the plan, but they're part of the plan. We, we currently have a grant from, uh, from a part of the government of Canada called administrative transport, and we're looking at boating, um, recreational, boating, um, um, mishaps, uh, in Canada. Uh, and we have a grant to do that, um, that spans multiple years. Um, and so that's a piece of it, but it's part of the plan where we're using it to do both research and intervention. Um, and so we're, we've selected three communities in Canada where we are sort of digging deep on this. Um, and, um, we're, we're trying to do that in a manner so that we can scale that up.
Speaker 2 00:20:46 So we have a couple of projects that are part of the, of the activity of the coalition, but it's really, you know, the, the singular focus is really on how do we make an impact with a plan we have recently, um, undertaken a small task group to refocus the plan. So we really want the plan to have targets and timelines. Um, and so, um, all the pieces of the plan that are gonna come out soon, the next edition of the plan, we'll all have a target targets for each of the key areas, as well as for what I call the overarching, um, cross issues. Like the ones I mentioned to you previously in the, in the written piece about, um, teaching kids to swim, uh, about, you know, prerequisite for, um, driver license, being CPR education, um, those kinds of things. So each of those components is going to have a target with a timeline on it, um, because of the evidence from Australia, actually that when you, when you place targets on these and timelines on these, the efficacy is higher. Um, and so again, using evidence from elsewhere to inform what we do is really the focus of the operational mandate.
Speaker 0 00:22:09 This is great. This is really interesting to think about how you actually make the plan actionable and how you actually make change happen, which is really a challenge at a national level. Going back to what you originally said is it really happens at a community level yet. You're trying to look at it at a national level. Can you just talk about a couple of what you see as big successes and then a couple of challenges that you faced?
Speaker 2 00:22:41 Um, big successes would be, um, um, putting the public health lens on drowning in Canada. Um, so that needed some help. Um, it had a strong recreational focus and even the government alignments to the issue were all through recreational pursuits. And so, um, putting a public health lens has been one of the principle, um, positive pieces of the coalition or the added value, what wasn't going to happen without a coalition forming. Like if we just left things the way they were. I think that, that might've taken a lot longer or may never have actually occurred
Speaker 1 00:23:20 For those for folks who might be listening this to this and not really understand what does that public health lens or framework look like? How has that been helpful? How has that shift been helpful for drowning prevention in Canada?
Speaker 2 00:23:36 Well, using a public health lens means you have to look at the interventions without barrier, so cross community intervention. So the recreational approach to swim lessons, for example, our basic swim teaching would be kids sign up, um, at the local recreation center. Uh, and they sh they appear at the pool with their bathing suits and, you know, their parents have driven them there and their parents have usually paid some entry fee or some, some registration fee for that to happen in the public health approach. No, you don't, you wouldn't do that because that excludes the highest risk people. Um, so in a public health approach, you apply it, you, you provide it to everybody, um, and they don't have to have a bathing suit. They don't have to have parents drive them. That barriers have been eliminated. Um, and so educating people about some of the differences between the public health approach to this, um, and the traditional sort of approach, um, has been one of the things that we have played a big role in doing on the drowning data piece, um, in the public health approach, you look at all, all drowning events, whether they're fatal or nonfatal, whether they're accidental or whether they're not accidental and their traditional previous approach, or the recreation sort of model approach was to look at unintentional drowning issues, um, and avoid the, what I called the messy stuff like homicide and suicide and, um, other pieces.
Speaker 2 00:25:04 So in the public health approach, you want to look at it all. And although the majority of them may be, um, uh, the accidental or the unintended drowning issues, I think the public health approach would be to look at them all. And that we look at the prevention of all of them, even those ones that are, um, not part of the traditional sort of, uh, preventative, uh, arm of things. Um, so I think that inequality or the reduction of inequality and drowning. So looking at the differences between, um, uh, indigenous peoples, uh, drowning rates and drowning circumstance versus non-indigenous people, um, uh, Hispanic and black people and immigrant people to this country. Um, so reducing the inequality inequities that exist within the drowning area is a public health approach to this. And not necessarily, uh, the approach of the recreation, uh, sort of frame of reference of this, which is, you know, those who could pay the money or, and could register for the classes, even those that are subsidized. Um, there are barriers to that process, cultural barriers, uh, perceptual barriers to those processes. And so in a public health approach, you look at all of those kinds of things and say, how do we get rid of that? And how do we try and make these skills that are needed for life available to everybody, especially to the people who are at highest risk,
Speaker 0 00:26:27 Very helpful. I'm going to throw a question in that we did not ask you before, but I want to come back to, because of what you're really try have been trying to do in Canada is around indigenous communities. And can you talk how you've engaged with indigenous first nations communities around drowning prevention?
Speaker 2 00:26:51 Well, um, the coalition has taken this issue really seriously, and it's one of the key focus topics. Um, and if you look at the output of the coalition, whether you look at the annual reports or you look at the plan, you might think that we're doing very little or nothing in this area. What we've spent the last six years doing is learning how to do this in an, uh, in a culturally sensitive, uh, appropriate way, because there's been many efforts on this, um, uh, in this area over decades, um, that have been, uh, not only failures, but have been disrespectful and have been hurtful. And so we have done lots of education amongst ourselves. Um, we have engaged, um, educational opportunities from the indigenous communities of Canada. So in Canada, we have three, um, indigenous groups, the first nations people, which make up 90, some odd percent of indigenous people in Canada.
Speaker 2 00:27:56 Uh, we have Inuits people who are first nations people in the far north, in the Arctic area. Uh, and we have may T people, um, and those are the three groups. So we have had multiple meetings at the national level and at the community level with those organizations and with those people, we have been taking courses on, uh, how to do research in this area in a, in a way where the indigenous communities own the data and own the process and own the outcomes, uh, because there's some really striking bad examples of this in Canada, where, um, indigenous people have been abused, um, in the research process and we are, uh, very determined not to do harm. Um, and so we have spent a lot of time, um, learning the right terminology, learning the right, um, uh, approach to address both the cultural issue and the public health issues in this population.
Speaker 2 00:28:51 We're not alone. Most of the other, um, injury prevention groups that have been involved in active work in Canada are having to go through the same educational process. So to take us to where we are today, we have, we have a person at the moment who's associated with the coalition, who's doing a PhD and drowning prevention in the indigenous community. Um, she happens to be doing that through a university that's near here, uh, near where I live. I'm one of the supervisors of that project. Um, and so she's been very helpful, um, in terms of educating us and helping us learn what she's learned, but this is not her first research endeavor in indigenous communities. Um, and so she is currently doing a drowning prevention indigenous project with first nations actually. Um, and, uh, that is happening here on the west coast. We are in that grant that we, um, I was telling you about with transport Canada on the recreational boating, um, piece, one of the communities of the three communities in Canada, where we're doing the deep dive.
Speaker 2 00:29:55 One of the communities that we're going to work with on that project, um, is a 100% indigenous community, a very rural community, uh, on the west coast of Vancouver island, uh, of over a thousand inhabitants. Uh, and, and it's entirely first nations and they have the first Canadian coast guard station that is an indigenous coast guard station at that community. So it's supplied and funded by the government of Canada, uh, because there has been many misadventures in that area of treacherous water. And so we are going to work with that community to do, uh, to learn how to do research in this environment, where they are the owners of the process, the methodology, they are the owners of the outcome. They're going to be the owners of the data. They're going to share what they want to share, uh, from that process. So we are learning how to do this in a culturally safe and culturally respectful manner.
Speaker 1 00:30:57 I think it's, it's so important. And your example of how to do this work slowly and intentionally, um, really is really something that other groups in the states and other and other places should take to heart, because I think it's all, it's too all too common where we see an issue and we want to jump in and solve it right away. And, um, yeah, I think your approach, like you've said at the very beginning, you've taken six years to learn how to do this work. Right. Um, and so I, I would hope that, um, folks listening to this who, who also will be engaging in similar work, whether it's with, um, you know, native American populations or indigenous populations that our community or other, um, you know, populations, special populations, um, in their communities would take the time. Like you have to learn how to do the work in a culturally safe, um, inappropriate manner, because that's going to have the real end, right?
Speaker 2 00:32:05 Yeah. It has to be, it has to be there. So, I mean, I I've watched this, I, you know, I'm an old guy, right? So I've watched this being done poorly in not just Canada, but in other countries, not just with indigenous populations, but with other challenging populations with high drowning rates. And I've seen lots of failures. So even in the bass project that we did in Bangladesh a few years ago, um, in our first endeavor to sort of, um, equip them with, with, um, tools that might be drowning prevention. We, we, we had introduced the concept of playpens. Um, and of course, when went back to see what the playpens were used for, they were used for storing rice and for, for housing chickens, and, um, all kinds of things. And you just kind of went when you saw that in the, you know, the, the, the second look you kind of went, duh, that makes total sense that that's what that would be used for.
Speaker 2 00:32:55 Um, but you know, we, there were projects in Canada where the government spent millions of dollars actually distributing life jackets, um, in the far north of Canada, um, only to learn that they were never used for life jacket purposes, that people in the far north don't want to drown slowly. Um, and, um, so, um, you know, th there was just, um, I don't think you can do this piece without great care and attention to the cultural piece with a cup cup of cultural awareness. And some of us don't know what we don't know. Um, and so we need to, um, learn and we need to seek advice, and we need to, in our case, there was there's courses we can take on the research component using indigenous sort of approaches. I thought that the paper that came out of India a year or so ago, um, that, um, used the knowledge community knowledge approach, uh, community knowledge approach is a great terminology to use with, um, indigenous Canadian groups because they, they, their, their history and the way that they learn is through storytelling, um, and community knowledge transfers. Um, and so we are using those kinds of approaches in the work that we're currently learning to do. Um, but we are just learning how to do this. Um, and, uh, I think we're trying to be really, really careful to not be hurtful. Right.
Speaker 1 00:34:22 So I want to thank you so much for that. And, um, yeah, and the advice and, and, um, I guess laying the path for how we should be approaching this work. So thank you for your comments there. Um, I wanna move us on to talk a little bit about challenges that the Canadian drowning prevention coalition has faced. Um, and I know that you wrote us in an email, you wrote some things down that I think are not unique to Canada, um, and things that coalitions, uh, are going to face and are facing in lots of different health areas, um, and in different geography. So would you describe for us some of the major challenges that you have had, and maybe some advice for groups who are starting out, um, on how to potentially navigate some of these, these issues?
Speaker 2 00:35:12 Well, the first is turf, and I don't know if that's a term that other people use the same way I do, but, um, there are NGOs and individuals who think that they are experts or owners of turf. Um, and whether it's, uh, the swim teaching for children turf or lifeguard training, uh, certifications in standard setting turf, or whether it's the public communication. Um, there are, there are people and individuals who think that they have some expertise in turf. And so what we've tried to do is incorporate as opposed to, um, uh, um, be little or, or reduce the, the people's perception of their piece of the turf. We've tried to rise above the challenges of turf and just say no to achieve the drowning prevention impact that we want to achieve. We have to get more bandwidth. We have to get more people involved. We have to be more multi-sectoral.
Speaker 2 00:36:14 And that means we can't be one NGO, one, one approach to this. We have to have multiple approaches to this. And so we've tried to rise above that turf issues. Uh, but they're, they're, they're, they're pretty well, always there, they're tricky to manage. Um, and there, there is a concept here that I mentioned a couple of times in the written piece I sent to you about, it's not always the strongest voices that are the most important voices or the most informed voices. Um, so sometimes the voices with the greatest confidence and whether they're empowered by finances or longevity, uh, or, um, uh, individuals who have particular stature, um, they're not always, um, a good guide for what should have the strongest voices and the collaborative voice should be the strongest voice, not the individual turf piece voice. So the second challenge I would think would be engaging government engaging the formalities of civil society.
Speaker 2 00:37:22 Um, the way that our, our society is organized with governmental scenarios and all of us face both national governmental challenges, uh, state or provincial government challenges and community or city government challenges in some of the, some of them have jurisdictions over different things. Um, and so navigating that and learning about that, um, and engaging people who actually previously didn't think that they were part of the drowning prevention effort, because they didn't see themselves through that frame of reference, um, and engaging them and really having them realize that no, no, they are, uh, an infrastructure component of the work that we're doing. Um, I would say, has been an, has been a challenge. The third one is the funding, um, financing and ownership piece. So we were hopeful at the beginning of the Canadian effort that the various participants would make contributions that would allow the structure of the national coalition to function efficiently with us part-time, uh, coordinator or project manager, actually, it was the title.
Speaker 2 00:38:28 Um, and it turned out that one NGO was providing 95% of the funding, um, and the other NGOs we're not engaging. And when we explored why, um, some of the reasons why was because the one was providing 95%. And so, um, you know, they came back to the turf issue. Um, then why should we contribute if they're going to? Um, and so, you know, we made quite a bit of an effort in the first five years to try and get many of the participants to be financial contributors. We had a donor program, uh, and, uh, we, we became, uh, uh, what, uh, you know, uh, an official, uh, not-for-profit organization so that we could issue tax receipts to donors. And those kinds of things. The bottom line was that we, we ended up in a situation at about year five and six, where we didn't really have progress on the ownership, long-term continuation sustainability of this.
Speaker 2 00:39:27 Um, and we got an offer from the, from one NGO saying, we will, we will take you under our wing this organization under your, under our wing for a period of years. Uh, and we'll see where this goes. And the idea would be that we would get more and more grants from public health agencies, from government agencies that would allow us to have infrastructure money. So the usual approach would be, you would take 10 or 15 or 20% of the grant money in and make that for the infrastructure of the organization. And the rest would be used for the project that was being funded and governments and public health agencies that fund these kinds of things are very used to that model. Um, and so what happened is we were just slow to be able to access that kind of resource. And so we've been taken under the wind of one of the NGO participants, and they have agreed to fund the infrastructure of the coalition, um, for the next few years, while we, uh, while we do this, for some people that gives the perception that that NGO owns the coalition.
Speaker 2 00:40:31 Um, and so we try not to have that be the perception we've not changed the way we've done activities. We've not changed any of the processes by which we do things as a result of this. We just have currently, um, some financial stability and some sustainability, um, because we have one NGO that is just agreed to participate in this. And so it's, it's a bit of an unusual and unique scenario. Um, but that's where we're at at the moment. It would be ideal in the longterm for the, for a coalition to have some arm's length independence from any one of its participants.
Speaker 1 00:41:09 Yeah, I think I, yeah, I think what I'm learning too, from, from your story is that coalitions need to be prepared to be flexible, and you may try and stand up on your own as a, as an independent charity or something like that. And, and, and the coalition may need to find a fiscal sponsor in your case. It was five years down the road, right. Or other coalitions might even start out having a fiscal sponsor with a plan, you know, a sustainability plan and move away and, and kind of be independent. And I think it is interesting that, that there is no one approach to how you do this. And, um, as we all know, from the past two years, the world changes quickly and finances of an, of organizations like this, um, are not secure all the time. And so having that in our heads that, you know, we're, our goal is to be an independent sending organization, but in five years, we may need to go under the wing of another organization just so we can survive. If we all can have that in our minds, as we move forward. I think when those decisions have to be made, and when those discussions have to happen, we can be a little bit better prepared for it. So your example of, um, yeah, being independent and then going under another organization with the goal to become an independent again, I think is helpful.
Speaker 2 00:42:32 I also think that most of what we do doesn't cost very much money and doesn't, it isn't a money issue. Um, so even though I, you know, I tend to be accused of the person who's got his head in the clouds and, um, you know, um, not particularly, uh, focused on the reality of it. Um, I'm not an implementer, like that's not my sort of place, but, um, you know, an implementer or a person with an implementer frame of reference would say, no, no, no, we have to have structures. And we have to have ways most of what we've done has been done with no money, um, has been done with a lot, like what we've done is brought a lot of academics in Canada into the drowning prevention group. We brought the government agencies that weren't previously engaged, involved. None of that costs money that just could, that we just had to share the vision.
Speaker 2 00:43:18 We had to share the goal, um, with them and they joined and they, in some cases bring some of their own resources. Um, and, um, we had, you know, in our, in our case, we have to have, uh, Sentinel documents translated into at least English and French. Uh, and now we're learning that we need to have some of them translated into some of our indigenous languages as well, uh, as well as some of the languages of our immigrant Canadian communities. Um, and we've been able to do that with no money, essentially. Um, the challenge is to be able to do this with minimal money so that the focus can stay on the, on the impact and not on the entity. And so I do think it's important that these become small, uh, entities and not big entities, but have big impact. Um, and I think that's a very challenging thing to do
Speaker 0 00:44:13 Well that this is a lot of food for thought for us. And, uh, I think we could spend a lot longer talking with these Steve, and we're really respectful of your time and your expertise. And we're wondering as we, um, finish up for today anyway, is there anything else that you'd like to share with us that either you didn't put in the original, your original responses, uh, or in our conversation today? Anything else?
Speaker 2 00:44:48 Well, we have had a project manager who is excellent and it was kind of a fluke that we ha we got her. Um, and it doesn't matter in my view, whether you pay for a project manager or whether a project manager is succonded from one of your participant organizations, or whether you actually hire somebody to do this. Right. Um, and the other model is they would be totally voluntary, um, that there would be a project manager who'd be voluntary, but all these working groups that we have are coordinated by a project manager who kind of keeps all this straight. Um, and she's really resourceful and very helpful. Fortunately, in our case, she's actually being paid and she's been paid all along. Um, even when we had, when we thought we had no money, we had enough money to actually pay her part-time she now works nearly full-time, um, and she has paid, um, but she's the only employee of the coalition.
Speaker 2 00:45:45 Um, and, um, I think, um, having an effective project manager is an important piece, but I don't think that means you have to actually pay for somebody. You can borrow them as a capacity building, um, opportunity for somebody who's from one of your participant organizations or entities, um, because it would be advantage to their education and their organizations development for them to have this frame of reference and have this knowledge, um, uh, to do that. Um, and so I do think that having effective and, and supportive project management is, is a cool thing, but I think you gotta be really flexible. Um, there was a time when our project manager we thought was going to have to become voluntary, um, until, you know, we got owned out or, you know, um, we got put under the arm of, of a funder, uh, who, who has taken on the salary and benefits of that person.
Speaker 0 00:46:50 I certainly have noticed in the Washington drowning prevention network experience, that when we have a paid person to coordinate and project manage, it just helps jumpstart everything else, that little bit of resource, or whether it's paid or someone who is designated to do that really helps keep things rolling along.
Speaker 2 00:47:13 Yeah, I, that that's been, that's been very helpful to us and we, we were just very fortunate to get somebody who had really good coordination skills who's become, you know, who was already, but has become an increasingly passionate person about the whole drowning prevention journey. Um, and, um, so, but it's also been really educational for her, um, to be able to participate in all these discussions in all these meetings and all these, um, pieces. Um, and I do think that that's one of the things that binds this whole thing together, is it every single meeting, somebody learns something. Um, and that is one of the premises of us meeting and gathering. And, and this, you know, when I'm preparing for the steering committee meetings, I'm saying, okay, what are people gonna learn from this meeting today? Who's going to say something that's going to teach us all, something that we're going to we're, we're going to be really glad we, we participated in this meeting today.
Speaker 1 00:48:11 I love that ethos of learning and continually learning, um, from, from everybody in the room. Right. So Steve, thank you so much for your time. Um, and your leadership and your wisdom in this space. Um, uh, there will be more conversations I'm sure is this, at least this California effort gets off the ground and as other, um, you know, community and state level coalitions start to think about forming in the states. So, uh, very, very grateful for you and your words today and, um, yeah, your leadership and wisdom and mentorship for lots of people in the drowning prevention space, myself included. So thank you very much.
Speaker 2 00:48:54 Put your long-term glasses on because this is not going to go as fast as you want it to. Um, but, uh, it's going to be a cool, uh, journey.
Speaker 1 00:49:05 Absolutely. Thanks so much, Steve. Really great to see it too.
Speaker 2 00:49:10 Likewise.
Speaker 1 00:49:11 Okay. Okay. Bye-bye thanks.