National Programs and Communications Update
By Merv Thomas, National Programs / Communications Manager
Tansi! Our work continues with many exciting projects currently being accomplished by CAAN. During these past few months we have held two national conferences, and have attended many others.
CAAN Annual General Meeting
This year the CAAN Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in Quebec City, Quebec at the Hotel Plaza Quebec, a beautiful hotel in the province’s capital. Attended by over 200 people, the event was well received. There were twelve (12) skill building and plenary sessions, and the CAAN staff presented an overview of all the current projects they are currently working on and what the plans are for the upcoming years.
Through it all, we received direction from the membership through the passing of various resolutions, and for which we will now begin to find resources for and or begin to implement immediately. Some of the resolutions included: 1) CTN resolution for HIV vaccine testing in Saskatchewan, 2) Child and Family Services, 3) APHA comfort seating, 4) Social networking templates, policies and procedures, 5) review of scholarship funding, 6) Men who have sex with women project, 7) Aboriginal women, and Aboriginal youth. These are just a handful of resolutions that were discussed and passed unanimously during the June AGM.
I want to acknowledge the hard work of all the staff and the steering committees of each of the projects. They ensure that the voices of the community are heard whenever CAAN does its work.
Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week
Throughout this newsletter you will see our Aboriginal AIDS Awareness WEEK (AAAW) campaign. Our AAAW steering committee guided us through all aspects of the planning and we couldn’t have done this work without them. Our Coordinator, Jann, and Trevor helped move the project along in a timely manner.
This year, CAAN once again attended the Canadian Aboriginal Festival in Toronto, Ontario. CAAN’s involvement focused on conducting evaluations of the attendees seeking information on what people know about HIV and AIDS. We handed out posters and many other materials.
Our National Chief, Shawn Atleo, and his team once again assisted us in the development of the national Public Service Campaign. This will be aired throughout Canada and it can be viewed on the website, www.aboriginalaidsawareness.com.
Peace and Dignity Journey – HIV and AIDS Staff
CAAN is very excited to place an HIV and AIDS staff on behalf of all people who are living with and are at risk of HIV and AIDS into the sacred bundle of the Peace and Dignity Journeys. The HIV and AIDS staff was selected in BC following a ceremony and was beaded by Ron Horsefall. Tobacco ties will be sent in from each region from those who are living with HIV and/or AIDS (APHA) and these ties will be placed on the staff. During the festivities at the December 1st, 2011 launch of AAAW, a ceremony was held and we presented the main bundle to the staff. The National Lead Coordinator for Canada’s Peace and Dignity Journey’s Glenda Abbot will receive the staff on behalf of Peace and Dignity Journeys.
There are many different staffs within the Peace and Dignity bundle; the staffs were placed by communities coming from different countries in North and South America. For example: there is a staff for all murdered and missing women; there is a staff in the bundle for a church in Mexico where women and children were massacred as they in a hid in a church; staffs from small communities where they have no running water; staffs that come from places where the countries are at war, and many others. In total, 0there are over 200 staffs.
These staffs are carried by runners who generally run from sunrise to sunset, and they are in prayer and ceremony for the whole day. CAAN is extremely thankful that we were allowed to include a staff for our brothers and sisters who are living with HIV and AIDS and also for those who are at risk. We also ask that finding a cure for HIV be incorporated into the prayers.
The following excerpt was taken from the Peace and Dignity Website:
“Peace and Dignity Journeys was started in 1992 to continue in the spirit of the traditions of our ancestors. Every four years Indigenous communities all over North, Central and South America witness and partake in the tradition of receiving runners with ceremonies unique to their community, sharing stories, song, dance, and the wisdom that comes from community elders and ceremony. Peace and Dignity Journeys runners start simultaneously from both ends of the continent in Chickaloon, Alaska and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina traversing the entire continent by foot from community to community and joining together for a final gathering in Central America, Panama. The 2012 run is dedicated to Water, reminding all who have forgotten that Water is an important resource and a shared resource for all.
Our native communities are scattered, having been pushed to the remote corners of this great land. In spite of this, we remain connected through the core traditions our ancestors have given us which have passed the test of time and space. These traditions not only serve as a binding connection to our communities, but provide us with the medium to solve our common problems.
Peace and Dignity Journeys was started in 1992 to continue in the spirit of one such tradition. Every four years Indigenous communities all over North, Central and South America witness and partake in the tradition of receiving runners with ceremonies unique to their community. Through this process runners and participants share stories, song, dance, and the wisdom that comes from community elders and ceremony. At the same time Peace and Dignity Journeys runners take on the spiritual task and honor of running from community to community starting simultaneously from both ends of the continent in Chickaloon, Alaska and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina traversing the entire continent by foot and joining together for a final gathering in Central America, Panama.
Each journey is dedicated to a specific theme: 1992 500 Years of Indigenous Resistance/Dedicated to the Children; 1996 Dedicated to the Elders; 2000 Dedicated to the Families; and, 2004 Dedicated to honor Women and the feminine spirit, particularly Mother Earth. The 2008 journey is dedicated to the honoring of and preservation and protection of Sacred Sites.
This is an inspiring event, impacting thousands of Native, Aboriginal, and Indigenous Peoples. As you may know, it takes a considerable amount of coordination and funds in order to provide the support runners need to move from one community to another (over eighty communities within a six month period.) Peace and Dignity Journeys is a grassroots organization supported by host communities, coordinated by a dedicated network of volunteers, and manifested through our strong runners.”