By Monique Fong, Assessing Community Readiness Coordinator, and Ed Bennett, Community Readiness Project Supervisor

The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) hosted the first of four Community Readiness national train-the-trainer sessions this year at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Toronto on February 26th to 28th.

Monique Fong, Community Readiness Coordinator, and Ed Bennett, Community Readiness Project Coordinator with CAAN organized and facilitated the training session.

Representatives from various Aboriginal organizations and First Nation communities from Ontario and Quebec were invited to participate in this training session. Organizations that took part in this training session included the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy, Metis Nation of Ontario, Montreal Native Women’s Shelter, Native Men’s Residence (Na-Me-Res) and 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations. Representatives from the Magnetawan First Nation also participated.

CAAN would like to acknowledge Wanda Whitebird who was the Elder for the three-day training session. We’d also like to acknowledge the partnership with the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy and the 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations for their participation in providing staff members to present information about HIV/AIDS and risk reduction.

Warren Green, the Outreach and Support Services worker with the Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy, gave a presentation on the Basic Facts of HIV/AIDS.

Corena Ryan, Long-Term Care Coordinator with 2-Spirited People of the First Nations, gave a presentation on risk reduction strategies.

Monique and Ed used training materials such as CAAN’s Assessing Community Readiness and Implementing Culturally Appropriate Interventions within Aboriginal Communities, Train The Trainers Facilitator Guide, Harm Reduction Implementation Guide and the ‘Community Readiness Model’ developed by the Tri-Ethnic Centre for Prevention Research. The purpose of the training session was to build capacity among Aboriginal organizations and First Nation communities. Our goal for these groups is the ability to implement culturally appropriate risk reduction interventions to support HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) prevention efforts.

Throughout the three-day training session, participants reflected on the training process and were reminded that in many Aboriginal cultures, we are taught that it is hard to move forward without taking the time to look back – to reflect on where we came from and the lessons that our journey provides us. Participants were thankful for how learning about the Community Readiness tools can be used when reflecting on what has happened, what needs to take place and what tools/services are needed to get to that ideal place for that individual community or organization.

Participants were thankful for the opportunity to create dialogue around issues like HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis C and STIs and how some Aboriginal people are at risk for contracting these diseases and infections. We stressed the importance of the need for culturally appropriate interventions in Aboriginal communities.

Participants were also given exercises using workshop templates to conduct their own Community Readiness Assessments. Following the activities, the participants talked about their individual or organization’s need for change to address issues: where they are, where they want to be and how they want to get there. The importance of community inclusiveness in community assessments was mentioned as key to including the need to develop their own action plans and evaluations.

Workshop participants were both grateful and thankful for being given the opportunity to be included in this workshop. CAAN was praised for providing a comfortable environment, full of humour and laughter that allowed for a successful event.

Following the training, both Monique and Ed were busy with conducting Community Assessment interviews with staff, volunteers and/or board members of each organization and First Nation that took part in the Toronto training session. After two weeks of meetings, a total of 27 interviews were completed.

For more information on the Assessing Community Readiness Training sessions please contact Monique Fong at or Ed Bennett at

CAAN is currently under construction. Please check back soon for updates.