By Merv Thomas
CAAN produced and released the second documentary in the series of three highlighting Promising Practices in Indigenous communities in addressing HIV, Hepatitis C and Harm Reduction issues. Promising Practices in Timaskaming First Nation was released on May 1st, 2017, the first day of Hepatitis Awareness Month, at Cobalt Theatres in Ontario. The 27-minute short film tells the story of a community’s response to address Hepatitis C utilizing the Community Readiness Model.
Indigenous Communities in Canada are experiencing high rates of Hepatitis C. Injection drug use remains the highest risk factor for contracting this blood to blood virus. But even baby-boomers are at risk especially if they have had blood transfusions in the past.
Promising Practices in Timiskaming First Nation (TFN) was filmed over a two-year period beginning in February 2016 – March 2017. It tells the story of how one community utilized the Community Readiness model in addressing the Hepatitis C epidemic in their community. TFN’s approach included an assessment of where they were at in terms of their readiness and matching interventions and developing stage-appropriate strategies.
Some of their strategies and interventions began with the education of staff, leadership and community regarding Hepatitis C and harm reduction. Culture and traditions played a strong role and is shared through Tammy’s powerful story and with her lived experience she shared the challenges of people who are actively using drugs and living with Hepatitis C.
TFN’s distribution of harm reduction kits and approach of meeting people where they are at, with a non-judgemental attitude has reduced the risk for contracting Hepatitis C amongst people who are using drugs or engaging in risky behaviours.
Their effort has resulted in an increase of more people getting tested and they have begun to get more people onto treatment. It is our hope that other communities will begin to incorporate and adopt some of their wise practices to begin addressing this epidemic in their own communities!