Billy Charles

Thursday Afternoon Plenary

    The Alaska Native Collaborative Hub for Research on Resilience (ANCHRR) is a new initiative aimed at strengthening existing research partnerships, developing new partnerships, and thereby broadening the potential impacts from suicide prevention research efforts throughout the entire state of Alaska, as well as throughout the Arctic more generally. ANCHRR includes a three region research project that will highlight what Alaska Native rural communities are doing to support young people and promote their wellbeing, rather than an exclusive focus on risks and problems. The Alaska Native Community Resilience Study (ANCRS) seeks to identify pathways from larger social and community processes down to individual, youth experiences, which can inform a wide variety of prevention efforts. A Research Steering Committee (RSC) made up of Alaska Native leaders, service providers, and researchers guides the study, and will assist in integrating results into a tool to identify vital community targets that can most effectively reduce youth suicide risk and promote resilience. Our presentation will describe the first year of this collaborative project and will show how the effort integrates and utilizes Alaska Native knowledge and guidance to change the narrative of suicide prevention to strength, protection and wellbeing.

    Billy Charles is a Yup’ik Alaska Native shareholder and tribal member from the Native Village of Emmonak, Alaska. He is a traditional Yup’ik song and dance leader in his community and is an active fisherman and subsistence hunter. As a Research Co-Investigator in UAF’s Center of Alaska Native Health Research, Mr. Charles provides leadership, cultural direction and intervention implementation and fidelity management for several NIH grants and a new NSF grant focusing on environment, rural economies and wellbeing in relation to fossil fuels in Alaska. Mr. Charles is currently leading the Qungasvik (Toolbox) Projects, an effort to develop and evaluate a cultural and community-driven model for prevention of youth suicide that builds strengths, protective factors and reasons for life. He is also co-investigator and member of the Research Steering Committee as part of the Alaska Native Collaborative Hub for Research on Resilience (ANCHRR). This project aims to change the narrative in Alaska from suicide prevention to the promotion of community strengths, resilience and wellbeing.