By Doris Peltier,  Aboriginal Women’s Leadership Coordinator

Much of the work in the Women’s Leadership file continues to be focused on firming up key partnerships that support the goals of the Aboriginal Women’s Strategy; these new initiatives moving forward in this fiscal year include, research to policy’ work with Native Women’s Association of Canada; the development of the Aboriginal Women’s Research Initiative (AWRI), in partnership with Women’s College Hospital’s Research Institute.  Upon the signing of a collaborative research agreement between CAAN and Women’s College Hospital, the AWRI which had been going through a formative stage is now entering a more formalized stage.

Other key activities include: doing the final wrap-up of Visioning Health-1 which involved presenting the final findings from this research at Wise Practices IV in Saskatoon.  This was made possible through a CIHR dissemination grant for which I am named as the grant holder with CAAN.  Now that we have the final findings from this research, we will incorporate these findings into a Visioning Health Community Report; the findings will also make up the bulk of Tracey Prentice’s PHD Doctoral Thesis. We will also be developing a Visioning Health website which will host all VH documents, the photos and narratives of Positive Aboriginal Women (PAW), as well as a downloadable version of a photo-book we produced to give to the women.  In light of our recent digital story development, we will also download our inaugural digital story as part of the ongoing VH Team work.

Next steps for Visioning Health will involve submitting for an HIV Community-Based Research (CBR) Operations Grant for the upcoming November 18th submission deadline.  The intent behind this submission is to go national with the VH Research in several provinces, and will include a total of 7 sites – British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.  The partner organizations in each of these regions will include Red Road HIV/AIDS Network; Shining Mountain Community Living; All Nations Hope AIDS Network; Prince Albert Métis Women’s Association and Pine Grove Correctional Centre for Women; Ka Ni Kanichihk Inc.; Union of Ontario Indians and the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.  Beginning in April of this year, I initiated these partnerships with a number of our regional partners; each site will have a regional team as we move forward with what we are calling VH-2.

Another highlight this year involved initiating the CAAN Voices of Women (VOW) Standing Committee’s renewal process.  It was felt that it was time to facilitate a National Call-Out in order to ensure that the committee was fully renewed to reflect the changes within the organization regarding integration of STBBIs, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis, Mental Health, HIV and Aging and other related co-morbidities alongside the work currently being done with HIV and AIDS.  The renewal process will ensure that the composition of the committee is established to meet the broader mandate of CAAN and will ensure that HIV prevention will be addressed at a greater level as part of the response to the priority population of women. At the writing of this piece, we have received a good number of applications from women across the country, and I am happy to report that the potential composition of the committee will be reflective of the full spectrum of the Aboriginal Women community as we move forward.

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