By Renée Masching, Director of Research & Policy
“If you wish to understand a man, know the world in which he lives”
~ Rawiri Evans’ (Maori) PowerPoint, International Indigenous Peoples’
Pre-Conference on HIV & AIDS
It took a long time to get to Australia – lots of grant writing to find the funding, preparing presentations to earn a scholarship and then about 24 hours on a plane one way! It is an honour and a privilege to represent CAAN at an international event. Now, sitting in my office by the Atlantic Ocean reflecting on the Indigenous Peoples’ Pre-Conference and AIDS 2014, I am hopeful that my experiences of “professional loitering” will lead to new connections and opportunities for CAAN!
The quote Rawiri Evans used in his presentation was striking to me regarding our work in the Research and Policy Unit. So often we speak about the importance of context and understanding the realities of our peoples’ lives. Currently we are working on major projects about home, housing and family. We are completing our work about the real or perceived use of alcohol. We are striving to be strategic and forward thinking and also carefully reflecting on how we engage in research.
In Australia we had the opportunity to join Indigenous Peoples from every direction to expand and explore the dialogue about the worlds of HIV, Indigenous People’s lives and health. Dr James Ward spoke passionately about stepping up the response in Australia. Many questions were raised that we will continue to work on: What is Treatment as Prevention? Is Treatment as Treatment a Wise Practice? How much fun is it to talk about “Sexy Health” and a “deadly sexy health kit” (meaning totally awesome)?! The launch of the Eora Call to Action – AIDS 2014 http://eoracalltoaction.wordpress.com/ and the launch of the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV and AIDS Youth Council were exciting and emotional moments. Many of our allies, colleagues and partners presented with us, respectfully presented about Aboriginal issues in Canada and sought out new information from other countries. The Canada Booth honoured Aboriginal teachings!
Moving forward in my own role within CAAN I am looking forward to engaging with our communities through creative knowledge sharing. Travelling great distances can make home and all that is familiar so much more precious. Echoing the theme of the pre-conference we must continue to tell Our Story, to stand up and claim this as Our Time to lead in the best way we can for Our Future.