By Doris Peltier & Trevor Stratton, APHA Liaisons
Yes, folks and peers, a request by APHAs for an additional caucus day happened. This request has been raised and discussed several times within the caucus, and this year it finally happened. Initially the APHA Caucus was to have been hosted by a local host agency, and 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations stepped up and offered to be the local host. Due to high APHA registration (the largest we have ever seen), the host agency space was unable to accommodate everyone, and in the end the caucus was moved back into a hotel space. We were at capacity for this year! It should also be noted, that the adding of a second day and the partnering with a local host agency were suggested by an APHA at the 2013 caucus. Part of the impetus for requesting an additional day was that it would allow for the business of the caucus to not be rushed, as has been the case in the past. Secondly, the suggestion of partnering with a local host agency was to allow for greater visibility and access for local APHAs. Suffice to say, there was an effort to house this year’s APHA Caucus locally, never expecting that a record number of APHAs would register.
It is also important to point out that APHA discussions, deliberations and ensuing recommendations in the form of resolutions are a vital and important cornerstone to the activities that CAAN undertakes within the organization, particularly as they relate to HIV and AIDS. As the only national APHA leadership forum in the country, it is fair to say that whenever the APHA caucus gathers, the leadership of APHAs is exemplary and very exciting to witness!
At this year’s caucus, the work within this leadership forum consisted of some very concrete actions and steps to navigate a way forward within the broadening mandate of the organization. Understandably, since CAAN began the work towards a more broadened mandate, legitimate concerns have been raised and discussed within caucus that relate to privacy and confidentiality issues. These discussions have been ongoing since the 2013 CAAN AGM and continued at a second caucus during the Wise Practices IV conference in September in Saskatoon. The APHA Caucus has had two opportunities to meet and discuss the implications of a broadened mandate, and again for a third session at the 2014 APHA Caucus in Toronto, and suffice to say, each time it was unanimous that APHA privacy issues be protected at CAAN.
With regards to the inclusion of Sexually Transmitted Blood Borne Infections (STBBIs), Hepatitis C, Mental Health, Tuberculosis, HIV and Aging and related co-morbidities alongside HIV and AIDS, the APHA Caucus stated their position to CAAN leadership in an APHA Caucus Position Statement ratified at the September 2013 APHA Caucus. It stated the following:
APHAs face racism, stigmatization, discrimination and now criminalization. Although there are similarities, the APHA Caucus acknowledges that the experience of living with HIV is different than experiences living with HCV and other STBBIs. Within the APHA Caucus and in the spirit of the GIPA principle and to ensure that our privacy and confidentiality is protected, alternative forums and/or expert working groups will be developed to address STBBIs, Hepatitis C, and Tuberculosis (Position Statement: APHA Caucus – Maintaining Safe Spaces for APHAs within a Broadening Communicable Disease Mandate Sept. 14, 2013).
Over the course of this year’s two-day caucus, standing presentations and/or updates consisted of the following: Orientation to the APHA Caucus; Review/ratification of revisions for the Caucus Terms of Reference; Update by the National Aboriginal Youth Council on HIV and AIDS (NAYCHA); Drafting Resolutions; Update by CAAN Research; Presentation by Dr. Evan Adams; Info session by the Canadian Trials Network (CTN); Board of Directors’ Member at Large Reports and Nominations and Election of Member at Large.
On the cultural side of things, this year we included a Welcoming Beading Circle, facilitated by textile artists Albert Mcleod and Gayle Pruden, and Ron Horsefall, beading artist extrordinaire. These artists established their work table outside the door of the caucus, making themselves available to teach their craft to anyone who wanted to work on something while still participating in caucus. Other cultural activities also including two teachings: Water Teaching given by Alita Suave, and the Medicine Bundle Teaching provided by Peetanacoot. The final cultural activity involved a traditional giveaway, organized to honour APHA leadership. It was very well received and everyone left with their gifts, which included a t-shirt for with the newly unveiled CAAN APHA Caucus logo.
As the two APHA Liaisons facilitating and providing administrative support for the APHA Leadership Standing Committee and the APHA Caucus, we are excited to be working with an increasingly outstanding and dedicated APHA leadership body; we would like to highlight the awesomeness of our peers and recognize that this leadership forum has grown exponentially over the years. Miigwech for sharing your knowledge to new and upcoming peers, we honour your gifts and your mentorship!