By Ed Bennett and Monique Fong

The City of Halifax, Nova Scotia, played host to CAANs Community Readiness National Train-the-Trainer session from November 28 – 30, 2013.  Participants came from the communities of Eskasoni, Waycobah, Millbrook and Indian Brook in Nova Scotia and one came from Red Bank, New Brunswick.

To start kick the training session, Leslie and Sandra Labobe from Healing Our Nations, provided an incredible amount of very useful information on the basic facts for HIV, harm reduction and sexually transmitted infections.

Participants explored the issues and need for culturally appropriate interventions in Aboriginal communities.  The high rates of HIV and AIDS, Hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections among Aboriginal people in Canada continue.  Some participants expressed their ignorance of not being aware of these issues and that many who are not working in or involved with health and social service delivery are completely unaware of the most basic facts.  Participants were grateful for being given the opportunity to dialogue and share information.

Participants were given the opportunity to brainstorm some potential risk factors and behaviors that people engage in.  The list of risk factors and behaviors included:  increase in youth becoming involved in injection drug use and the potential for them to be drawn into harder drugs; unprotected sex; women and youth trading sex for food, and/or housing, being in unhealthy relationships, for example partner may be injection drug user; poor self-esteem and self-identity; lack of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C education; to get tested or not to get tested; homophobia, racism and discrimination.

There was discussion about abstinence-based approaches and programming where individuals are encouraged to give up a substance (alcohol, drugs, etc.) completely are common in Aboriginal communities.  It was felt that by not offering risk-reduction intervention programs, the most marginalized people in the community may not get the services they need and that there is a need to create policies that exclude people who are not able to be clean and sober.

Readiness is “the degree to which a community is prepared to take action on an issue”.  The Community Readiness Model (CRM) can be used in many ways.  The CRM can be applied to make changes in the community, integrates culture, resources, and level of readiness, brings the community together, builds cooperation and increases its capacity for prevention and intervention.  The CRM recognizes community uniqueness and the different stages of willingness and ability.

A very important aspect of the Train-the-Trainer session is that participants were given the tools on how to conduct and use their own Community Readiness Assessments.  Using the CRM Manual and Workbook, they learned the three steps necessary to conducting interviews: 1) prepare and plan; 2) conduct; and 3) score the assessments.  They also learned that in preparation for completing the assessments it is very important to identify who they want to interview, have a thorough understanding of the interview questions and to contact interviewees and arrange the interview.

The front-line workers who participated in the training session realized the importance of risk reduction work.  They are motivated and caring people who are looking for ways to help their people who are struggling with every day life.

This training session also gave an opportunity for CAAN to promote the work that is already taking place in their region.  The workers agreed that the training session also gave them the great opportunity to network amongst themselves and began new partnerships and collaborations between their organizations.

If you have any questions about the Community Readiness National Train-the-Trainer session or about the work that CAAN does please contact Monique Fong, Community Readiness Coordinator at 1-604-266-7616 or Ed Bennett, Community Readiness Project Supervisor, at 1-647-981-2663 or visit the CAAN website at

Monique Fong

Community Readiness Project Coordinator

Ed Bennett

Community Readiness Project Supervisor

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