Meaningful Engagement of HIV-Positive Indigenous Women in Research – They Have to Want To Be There!!

by Doris Peltier

National Coordinator – Visioning Health II

Visioning Health was “a healing journey”, “good medicine”, “inner healing”, “a powerful journey”, “healing in lots of ways” ~ VH I HIV-Positive Indigenous Women

As most of you already know, in July 2015, after two years and two submissions, and many hours of hard dedicated work, we received word from the Canadian Institute on Heath Research (CIHR) that Visioning Health II was successfully funded. Our four year study, designed as an intervention, will measure the impacts of the visioning health experience for HIV-Positive Indigenous Women, in 7 sites across Canada. Like Visioning Health I (VH I), the continued journey of what we are now calling Visioning Health II (VH II) again, embraces culturally-grounded, strengths-based, and community-based participatory intervention research approaches. As we found out in VH I, process is key and foundational in meaningfully engaging women in research.

What we have been doing since we officially started in September 2015:

  • Hired a National Coordinator
  • Hired a Post-Doctoral Fellow
  • Established a Working Group to Oversee the Grant
  • Engaged the 28 member team through teleconferencing
  • Established a Women’s Council, comprised of VH I Positive Indigenous Women
  • Developing Training to take place at the beginning of Year 2 (Committee 1)
  • Developing Instruments that will measure impacts of VH II (Committee 2)
  • Developing a VH website (Committee 3)
  • Establishing standing meetings, which includes monthly meetings of the working group; bi-monthly joint meetings of the Women’s Council and the Working Group; monthly meetings of all committees
  • Engaging community partners who will be the host organizations for the intervention
  • Engaging VH I women who will be hired as Community Research Coordinators
  • Developing virtual training opportunities for the VH Women’s Council
  • Grant writing that would allow for enhancing meaningful engagement of the Women’s Council as Facilitators and Peer Mentors for the interventions
  • Financial and Administration

Currently, we are nearing the end of Year 1 and are formally establishing regional research teams in each of the first 3 Pilot Study sites; the first sites will be in British Columbia, Regina Saskatchewan and Thunder Bay Ontario. Each regional team will be comprised of a Community Research Coordinator (CRC), a Knowledge Keeper, an Academic researcher from the region, and a representative from our community partner. In each of the sites, we will be engaging with up to 12 HIV-Positive Women/per site, and dependent on the region, we will be utilizing two engagement styles; short-term engagement in a retreat setting OR a long-term engagement over 4 months.

We want to thank CAAN for their ongoing support of Visioning Health over the years, and more importantly, for agreeing to house this study within the organization for the full four years. We also need to acknowledge all the community partners who believed in Visioning Health, the community of women, the academics, the allies who supported us, and most importantly, big thanks to Charlotte Loppie, Nominated Principal Investigator, and Tracey Prentice, who is now ‘Dr. Tracey’ and will be doing her post doctoral fellowship with VH II.

In closing, as a team, we are very excited as the training approaches, which will likely be in October at a location as yet to be determined. Following that, the pilot interventions will begin in each of the 3 regions, and we anticipate that they will not take place all at once, but rather will be staggered. In addition, the Visioning Health website will be going live in October! Watch for it!!! Also, be on the lookout for our fabulous VH II folks in your regions over the coming months, and over the next few years!!! Miigwech. ~ Doris Peltier

Filed Under: Summer 2016 Newsletter

About the Author: Brought to you by the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN).

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