Greetings as we welcome in autumn on the 23rd of September.  Once again, I am pleased to provide this summary report on key activities within Women’s Leadership; I have strived to make this report as concise as possible, and will only touch on the main points of each activity.

Visioning Health II: I begin with good news. On July 3rd we received news that the VH II resubmission to CIHR was funded for $1.2 million, VH II will be conducting Visioning Health as an ‘Intervention’ in seven sites across the country over the next four years. Community partners from these seven sites are on board, and they include, Red Road HIV Network (BC), Shining Mountain (AB), All Nations Hope Network & one as yet TBD (SK), Kanikaniichihk (MB), Ontario HIV/AIDS Stratey (ON), Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (QC) and Healing Our Spirit (Atlantic region).  Other good news, the funds will be transferred to CAAN for this study, and VH II will be under the umbrella of CAAN in partnership with UVic’s Centre for Aboriginal Health Research, for the next five years. Currently the funds transfer is in the works, funds will be released upon receipt of the Ethics certificate.

National Coordinator – Visioning Health II: I have accepted the offer to step in as the National Coordinator of VH II, this transition has been approved by my supervisor Merv Thomas.  It was felt by the VH II Working Group comprised of Charlotte Loppie, Tracey Prentice and Renee Masching that I was best positioned to take on this new role, given that I am the link to community, and the link to the member organizations in the 7 regions, this recognizes that I worked hard to bring them on board and that I nurtured this relationship with them since we started to think about going national with this study/intervention.  Monique Fong has stepped in as Interim Women’s Leadership Coordinator, and I am currently working with her in the transition. The position will be posted soon.

CAAN VOW: The VOW Committee last met during the CAAN AGM, it is important to note that we did not convene a formalized face to face meeting during the CAAN AGM, partly due to not wanting to schedule yet another meeting around an already jam-packed Caucus/AGM/ Wise Practices schedule. Instead, the VOW proposed a dinner together to have an informal meeting that would allow for team cohesion, team building and just having an opportunity to get to know each other.  It is important to note that several key areas of VOW engagement will need to be addressed, and I will outline all of this in a report to VOW Chair Kerrigan Johnson and the VOW Committee for a scheduled VOW teleconference in October.

CAAN AGM & Wise Practices: VOW had two presentations accepted into the CAAN Skills-building program. They included, 1) Renewing the Response for Aboriginal Women, this session is tied into the renewing of EONS for the next five years. 2) When Women Pick up Their Bundles: Women’s Leadership in Women’s Hands, this session was an opportunity for VOW members to share the work they are doing on the ground. VOW also wrote 3 resolutions that were unanimously passed by CAAN membership. Several other resolutions coming out of the Caucus also had VOW involvement.

Renewing the Response for Aboriginal Women:  To date, we have conducted 9 community consultations to elicit community priorities; findings will then be used to write the new five year strategy (EONS II), which is scheduled for release March 8th 2016.  It is important to note that VOW is doing this with no budget, but we have been able to piggy-back with Tracey Prentice who is doing consultations for the Renewing the Research Response, and she has research funding which has benefited our efforts. An online survey is currently being developed by Monique, which will help us to reach at least 200 community members. Currently we have reached approximately 90 community members, and I am currently working on the reports for each focus group we have done.

2015 Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week: Currently, and because I live in Montreal, I will be helping Carrie Martin and the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, and incoming local partners to again partner with CAAN in organizing a women-specific event for December 2nd here in Montreal.  In preliminary discussion with Carrie, the event will have a ‘social justice’ focus for Aboriginal women and children.  The social justice piece will focus on institutional barriers that impact women and children, and put women and their families at risk.

HIV Profiling of Aboriginal Women by Police in Winnipeg: Recently, in two focus groups with women in Winnipeg, we were told by several women that the police use a ‘red alert’ that is linked to their HIV status when they have run-ins with them. This is appalling, and a violation of their human rights, it is HIV profiling and bears some investigation. I have apprised Renee Masching and Kerrigan Johnson about this, and we are currently waiting to meet with Richard Elliot from the HIV Legal Network about this.

Sex Workers & Solvent Users Focus Group: I had the honor and also a great sadness of meeting with sex workers and solvent users in Winnipeg in two separate sessions in Winnipeg. As mentioned, I am currently working on the report summaries, but can say that it is difficult doing consultations, because we do not have anything immediate to give back, particularly for these communities. BUT, I did connect with another group that has a support group for PAW, and this group was so inspired from participating in a focus group, and are interested in expanding to include a second support group/sharing circle for sex workers. This will be done through the Aboriginal Women’s Research Initiative as part of this WCH/CAAN initiative. For the solvent users, I would like to suggest a way to engage this population at our conferences. I will be sending membership forms to Margaret Ormand at Sunshine House for this group to become members of CAAN. Margaret Ormand has done a couple of research projects with Solvent Users; her research may be an ideal introduction for us to this issue.  We have an AGM Resolution that was passed almost five years ago about this population. I have included this in my report, as this group was co-ed.

Miiquetch……Doris Peltier – (Outgoing)Aboriginal Women & Leadership Coordinator

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