It’s a little hard to hug someone through a TV.
But when it comes to addictions support, video conferencing may give Yukon communities a much-needed boost.
Alcoholics Anonymous is taking advantage of the territory’s cutting-edge telehealth network to host weekly meetings in 13 Yukon communities via video conferencing.
Members will head to their local nursing station to participate in the Friday afternoon meetings that will link all participating communities with Whitehorse.
“It will allow you to connect with people, so when you come to Whitehorse for groceries you have a contact,” said the Alcoholics Anonymous member who spearheaded the project. (True to the name, members must remain anonymous.)
If only three communities link on, then three boxes will show up on the TV screen and members, pictured in the nursing station boardrooms, can talk.
It’s unlikely all communities will link on at once, but if this happens, the TV will be broken into tiny 13 boxes.
It takes the onus off a few member who felt responsible for hosting meetings in certain communities week after week, said the member.
“Sometimes they would sit there with a pot of coffee month after month with no one, or one or two people,” she said.
For those communities where meetings already happen, this gives people a second option, added the member.
Unlike Whitehorse, where a couple meetings happen every day, communities are lucky to have one a week.
Dawson, Mayo, Faro, Ross River, Whitehorse, Carmacks, Teslin, Watson Lake, Carcross, Beaver Creek and Destruction Bay, Haines Junction and Old Crow are linked on for the meetings.
Pelly Crossing and Burwash Landing are not included. Pelly’s telehealth office is too small, said the member.
On TV, “it’s not going to be the same for closeness and laughter and camaraderie and fellowship,” she added.
“But I think it’ll be interesting to see how the fellowship grows and how those things work with the technology. It is an experiment.”
The meetings will take place in the community nursing stations every Friday at 1:30 p.m.