First Steps First: A Community-Based Workbook for Evaluating Substance Abuse and Mental Health Programs in Saskatchewan

Pete_PrairiedogAbout First Steps First

First Steps First: A Community-Based Workbook for Evaluating Substance Abuse and Mental Health Programs in Saskatchewan is a user-friendly workbook that is designed to help service providers become familiar with the initial steps in planning to conduct a program evaluation. Created using a Community-Based Participatory Research philosophy that acknowledges the expertise of front-line staff, administrators and supervisors with regard to their clients and programs, it introduces readers to the basics of program evaluation by way of group activities, a collection of short instructional videos, and the company of an enthusiastic prairie dog named Pete! First Steps First was developed by the Saskatchewan Team for Research and Evaluation of Addictions Treatment and Mental Health Services (STREAM), with the assistance of the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region. The draft version was ‘pilot tested’ by seven groups across Saskatchewan, with the assistance of Laurence Thompson Strategic Consulting.

About the Authors and Illustrator

Mitch Daschuk (MA) is a doctoral graduate student with the Department of Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan. His research interests include youth subcultures, media representations of ‘deviant’ populations and, more recently, knowledge translation processes. Since May 2010, he has been working with the Saskatchewan Team for Research and Evaluation of Addictions Treatment and Mental Health Services (STREAM) to compile this workbook. Mitch has many interests outside of the university, including a fresh take on shooting short films (in which Pete Prairiedog thinks he should have the next starring role!).

Colleen Dell (PhD) is the Research Chair in Substance Abuse at the University of Saskatchewan in the Department of Sociology and School of Public Health. She is also a Senior Research Associate with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, Canada’s national addictions agency. Her research is grounded in a community-based participatory approach, and her research interests focus on substance abuse treatment programming and evaluation. Colleen has worked and undertaken research extensively at the local, provincial, and national levels. In 2010, she was awarded a YWCA Woman of Distinction award in the category of Research, Science and Technology for her collaborative work on the project titled From Stilettos to Moccasins. Colleen loves spending time with animals, especially cute little prairie dogs.

C. Randy Duncan (PhD) is a Research Associate with the Department of Sociology at the University of Saskatchewan. His research background is in applied measurement and program evaluation, with a focus on instrument construction and validation. Randy is currently pilot testing two instruments designed to measure the benefits of Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) for at-risk youth and adults. He is also involved in developing an instrument to measure the benefits of Aboriginal cultural interventions for at-risk populations receiving substance abuse treatment services. However, it has been Randy’s ongoing program evaluation work in mental health and addictions that has served to underscore the need for helping to develop this type of interactive workbook to assist front-line staff. Randy is an avid marathon runner and hopes one day to be able to run as fast as a prairie dog.

Sagan Haller is a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student in Anatomy and Cell Biology, which is the study of the structure, function, and development of organisms at the cell, tissue, and organ levels. She grew up in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, where she attended Tisdale Middle & Secondary School, and took art lessons from a local artist. Since July 2011, Sagan has been working with STREAM to develop Pete Prairiedog, the workbook mascot. She considers herself to be an artist, a baker, and a candlestick maker. STREAM’s members agree; she is creative, constructive, and illuminating.

Request a Copy

A limited number of USB copies of the final version of First Steps First and even fewer hard copies will be available very soon! Be sure to reserve your copy by emailing, or by calling (306) 966-6917! Make sure to include your mailing address, phone number and the number of copies you would like.

If you would like to access the workbook on-line, please complete an information survey and then access it here.

Companion Videos

Administrator’s Introduction

General Introduction

Chapter 1 Video One

Chapter 1 Video Two

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6 Video One

Chapter 6 Video Two

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Please Give Us Your Feedback!

Given all of the hard work that went into making this workbook possible, feedback from First Steps First users is invaluable! If you are a First Steps First user, please take the time to complete our 5 minute survey. Click here to take the survey online, or click here to download the survey. Downloaded and completed surveys can be emailed to, or mailed to Colleen Dell, University of Saskatchewan, Department of Sociology, 1109 – 9 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A5.


We gratefully acknowledge our colleagues who contributed their time and expertise to this workbook:
• Project coordination by Elisabeth Bartlett
• Initiation of the workbook by Shelanne Hepp
• Guidance on the workbook content and presentation by Brett Enns, Regional Executive Director, Community Services for the Prince Albert Parkland Health Region (PAPHR), Chuck McCann, Manager of PAPHR Addiction Services, and the staff of PAPHR Addictions Services
• STREAM members not listed as authors or illustrator, including:
– Core Research Team members: Sharon Acoose, Gerald Block, Peter Butt, Marwa Farag, Michelle Kushniruk, Lewis Mehl-Madrona, David Mykota, and Raymond Tempier
– Community Advisory Committee members: Russell Bone, the late Joe Custer, Rose Deitner, Carolyn Kenny, Monique Koskie, Larry Laliberte, Glen McCallum, Elder Campbell Papequash, and Cynthia Shorting
• Administrative support by Nicki Sartoris and Shannon Taylor
• Copy editing and proofreading by Penny McKinlay and Bonnie Zink
• Design by Creative Gravity Graphic & Communication Design
• Expert review by David Patton and Peggy Cunningham
• Videos by Sharon Acoose, Peggy Cunningham, Mitch Daschuk, Colleen Dell, Debra Dell, Randy Duncan, Brett Enns, Marwa Farag, Joe Kluger, Chuck McCann, and Dani Robertson-Boersma
• Pilot testing of the draft version of this workbook by seven groups across Saskatchewan and facilitation of pilot testing by Laurence Thompson Strategic Consulting.

We also gratefully acknowledge our funders:
The STREAM team is funded by the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, Health Research Group Grant – Phase II and the Research Chair in Substance Abuse (funded by a grant from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health). Pilot testing of this workbook has received additional funding from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health via the federal Drug Treatment Funding Program.