By Merv Thomas

This has been an exciting summer and with fall in the air, with children back in school and daycare, time seems to have once again sped up as we prepare for Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week in December.

This past summer saw an incredible amount of work with numerous conferences and gatherings being hosted by CAAN.  In no particular order these included the following:

BC APHA Forum – this was a one day forum hosted by CAAN for Aboriginal people living within BC to come together to plan, converse and make some recommendations to the First Nations Health Authority, its partners and also CAAN.  With the vacuum left by the closure of Healing Our Spirit, APHAs living in BC have noticed that quite often their needs were not being met.  Twenty four (24) APHAs came together to discuss issues around living with HIV, access to health care and with the final outcomes including the following:

a. Retreat – this will enable and provide an opportunity for APHAs to strategize and implement either a new council or society.

b. BC Council of APHAs / New Society – One of the more exciting outcomes of this gathering was that the BC APHAs supported the need to have regional representations and they recommended the formation of a BC APHA Council.

c. Mentorship – work closely with CAAN and the First Nations Health Authority on future endeavors.

d. Gathering Wisdom 2017 – an APHA Voice to be included (panel, one day to address isssues)

This gathering was supported with the financial assistance of the First Nations Health Authority.  A copy of the final report can be obtained by contacting our office.

APHA Caucus – this was a two day gathering of APHAs coming from across Canada and was one of the largest in recent CAAN memory.  Numerous speakers were invited to address the caucus and the caucus was asked for their input into several issues that will affect them.  Some of the speakers and topics included the Community Action Fund by the Public Health Agency of Canada, GIPA and Renewing the Research response by Renee Masching, there was a cross Canada check in by the Nechi Wakan Kinew (Saskatchewan APHAS), BC APHA Caucus, and the Ontario First Nations & APHA Advisory Group.

Skills Building Workshops – this year there were a total of 24 skills building workshops held.  Four main tracks including: APHA Care Treatment and Support, Prevention and Support Interventions, Public Awareness and Health Promotion, and Capacity Building.  A wide range of topics on this provided the delegates with additional tools to carry out their work within their own regions.

Annual Feast and Awards Ceremony – the annual feast was held at the Chief Joe Mathias Center with the following awards being given:

a. Social/ Political /Community Action Award was presented by Trevor Stratton and was presented to Dr. Malcolm King for his outstanding contributions in the field of HIV and AIDS.

b. Trailblazer Awards – were presented by Doris Peltier and Emma Palmantier to two individuals exemplifying this award.  Rene Boucher and Joe Wilson both demonstrated how living with HIV is an opportunity to address many issues, such as stigma and discrimination.

c. Holistic Wellness Promotion/ Harm Reduction Award – was presented by Monique Fong to Donna Lerat for her work with street involved women working in the sex trade.

d. Young Eagles Award was presented by Jessica Danforth to Jack Saddleback the first transgender Aboriginal person ever elected by student council as President of the Student Council at the University of Saskatchewan.

e. Lifetime Legacy Award – was presented by Kecia Larkin to Chief Leonard George from Tsleil-Waututh for his incredible leadership in the HIV AIDS movement in BC.

f. Exceptional HIV Award – was presented by Renee Masching to Dr. Julio Montaner for his incredible vision and many contributions to ensuring that individuals living with HIV are able to live longer and healthier through much of his work, namely HAART.

Annual General Meeting – the business of CAAN was held on and a total of 12 resolutions were passed.  The Board of Directors for the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year are:

  • Emma Palmantier – Chair, British Columbia
  • Arthur David Miller – Vice Chair, Atlantic
  • Kerrigan Beaver – Secretary, Member at Large
  • Raye St. Denis – Treasurer, Alberta
  • Priscilla Bilsborrow – Manitoba
  • Norma Rabbitskin – Saskatchewan
  • Tony  Nobis – Ontario
  • Carrie Marting – Quebec
  • Colin R. Hibbs – Labrador Newfoundland
  • Brenda Kolson – Yukon
  • Igah Sanguya – Nunavut
  • Patricia Bacon – Yukon
  • Renee Boucher – Member at Large.

Wise Practices V – every two years Wise Practices is held and this time it was held in concert with the Skills Building and AGM.  There were a total of 16 presentations and workshops.

Several other meetings, sharing circles and various information sessions rounded off the weekly events.

All of these events were held prior to the International AIDS Conference in Vancouver, BC during the month of July.

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