National Aboriginal Hepatitis C Awareness Month May 2014

Luncheon & Signing Ceremony  gets Kick-start in Vancouver Thursday, May 1, 2014


 The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network in partnership with Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the Attendance Project at BC Centre of Disease Control were pleased to launch the 2014 National Aboriginal Hepatitis C Awareness Campaign. During the launch the three partners signed the Memorandum of Understanding to create this annual event and work together to raise awareness of hepatitis C in the Aboriginal community.

The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN), the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada (Pauktuutit) and Hepatitis Services, and BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) have indicated a desire to work together to recognize the diversity and rights of Aboriginal Peoples regardless of residency, including the rights of Aboriginal Peoples to access and benefit from hepatitis C prevention, education and awareness, as well as related care, treatment and support to maintain a quality of life in a culturally appropriate manner.

The event began following traditional protocol with Bob Baker, Squamish Nation opening the ceremony with a prayer song and a traditional welcome to the Coast Salish Territory.  

Each of the partners spoke to the need for more awareness of this virus and the importance for Aboriginal communities to become aware of the virus.  The partners introduced many culturally relevant resources for front-line health and social service providers – which are available in hardcopy and online – and expressed a strong desire to support creating change in all communities: urban, rural, isolated, and on-reserve. The resources include:

  • What is Hepatitis C?
  • Making Sense of the Diagnosis
  • Getting Tested
  • Living with Co-infection
  • Getting Ready For Treatment
  • Frequently Asked Questions.

“We are sharing ways of working with and for Aboriginal people living with hepatitis C. Our communities show strength by protecting and supporting the most vulnerable. We are promoting health and wellbeing in our communities – we are fulfilling a sacred role in nurturing holistic healing, grounded in our cultural past and today’s reality,” stated Ken Clement, CEO of CAAN. “Practicing our Aboriginal values of respect, honour, and non-judgment toward others is key to our response – and this year we asked all communities to become informed and lead the change.”

 Ken Clement, CEO of CAAN, Gail Butt, BCCDC, and Geri Bailey signed the MOU.  

Rodney Little Mustache spoke of lived experience.  He spoke about the challenges of living with Hepatitis C and the lows of the disease and his strong determination to overcome all these challenges.  “Spirituality is what helped me,” he said.  “If it wasn’t for my spirituality, I would not be here today.”

Today Rodney has just completed his upgrading and has applied to the University of British Columbia, determined to get his degree.  His life is an example for people to never give up.  


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