The summer months have been busy with the exciting conferences held in Durban, South Africa, the release of the Promising Practices documentary, and the initial planning for the Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week 2016. Other big events include the Global Replenishment meeting, which raised US $12.9 billion raised to address AIDS, Hep C and Malaria internationally, the 21st Aboriginal Role Model Award, and the Vancouver Pride Parade.
The International Indigenous Pre-conference on HIV & AIDS 2016, was hosted by CAAN, and provided an opportunity to celebrate strategize and network on Indigenous led responses to HIV AIDS. The theme of the pre-conference was `Weaving together the stories of Indigeneity and HIV in Southern Africa – reclaiming Indigenous voices.` The two day event was well attended, with Indigenous peoples from Canada and Internationally. About 200 delegates attended.
Highlights of the event included cultural sharing by a girls group from Durban, and attendance of Canada`s Minister of Health, and High Commissioner. Minister of Health Jane Philpott attended a full day of the gathering, and demonstrated great interest and working knowledge on HIV/AIDS. Her connection to these issues is rooted in almost a decade of working as a doctor in Niger Republic. She founded Give a Day to World AIDS in 2004, which has raised over $4 million to address HIV and AIDS in Africa.
Feedback was very positive, with the key recommendation as including more international representatives. This has been an ongoing challenge for CAAN as Canadian funders prioritize Canadian delegates. This newsletter also includes a summary of the pre-conference by Kari-Dawn Wuttunee.
The 6th International AIDS Society Conference followed, and was well attended by international delegates. The conference saw an increasing focus and support on Indigenous issues, primarily thanks to Trevor Stratton and Marama Pala. They have ensured Indigenous issues and voices are heard at many levels of planning committees at the conference.
The conference included numerous workshops on a broad range of issues, many of with are current or at the beginning stages of development, such as examples of countries which are initiating projects to respond to Malaria and Hepatitis C.
A highlight of the conference was the Global Village, which brought delegates together in a open and community based space, creating opportunities for the sharing of lived experiences and challenges, and networking and partnership development. This was held in partnered with Prometra International, which an international organization which promotes African traditional medicines, cultures and sciences. The Minister of Health, Jane Philpott, attended the Global Village, engaging and discussing HIV and AIDS issues.
CAAN encourages and supported APHAs to apply to the conference, resulting in a number of positive Aboriginal women making presentations at the conference and participating in the Global Village. For more details on this conference, see Trevor Stratton’s “Durban Report”.
The pre-conference saw the launch of the Promising Practices film. The film shares stories of Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan which are experiencing the highest rates of HIV and AIDS in Canada. These communities are using culturally appropriate practices to address the epidemic. The documentary is available here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmwX7iQ1ZRg.
Dissemination of the Promising Practices film is progressing well with a showing held in select locations across Canada, availability through the CAAN website and social media, and DVDs distributed to members (partly complete), Friendship Centres, First Nations, and partner organizations. Screenings were held in Saskatoon SK, Regina SK, Peace River AB, Ottawa ON, Fort MacLeod AB, and Vancouver BC.
Planning has begun for the 2016 Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week (AAAW) with the meeting of the AAAW Steering Committee. The event will be help December 1-6, 2016 on the theme of Access and Stigma.
I attended a two day Global Replenishment meeting in Montreal in September, which brought together global health leaders to mobilize efforts to end epidemics of three diseases: AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Donors committed US $12.9 Billion towards over the next three years towards ending these epidemics. PM Justin Trudeau hosted the conference, and was very engaged and supportive of this work. Trevor and I met with both the PM and the Minister of Health, Jane Philpott.
Raye St. Denis and myself had the pleasure of attending the 21st Aboriginal Role Model Award in Edmonton, where Denise Lambert was recognized for her 30 years of leadership in the Aboriginal HIV and AIDS movement in Canada. We were honored to be in attendance and to witness the recognition of Denise`s incredible accomplishments.
CAAN were part of Vancouver Pride Parade in August, with a float, Elders, dancers, and Indigenous health advocates celebrating culture and the LGBTQ2+ community. Thanks to the incredible volunteers and Rodney Little Mustache for coordinating this participation.
Thanks to all of the community members, volunteers, staff, board and funders who make all of this work possible. I hope you have a enjoyable and healthy autumn.
About the Author: Brought to you by the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN).