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CAAN International HIV research to improve sexual and reproductive health of Indigenous women

The project uses the term ‘women’ to reflect the culturally grounded inclusion of the spectrum of people who identify of female, inclusive of age, sex and gender identify. The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network

(CAAN),Canada’s only national Indigenous HIV and STBBI organization, is leading a new international collaboration that will investigate women living with HIV. developed over the past 16 years between 7 countries, CAAN was awarded $3.5 million CAD over five years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (FRN: 175246).The grant scored first in a field of 30 applications, of which nine were funded.

This project builds on CAAN’s important work of meaningful research with Indigenous people and extends CAAN’s international networks by working with Indigenous leaders in each partner country. Involved in the study are the University of Toronto, Simon Fraser University, Queen’s University, and the University of Victoria.

“This ground-breaking project will provide an Indigenous-specific framework that expands the WHO consolidated guideline on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of women living with HIV” says Carrie Martin (Mi’gmaq from Listuguj), Nominated Principal Knowledge User. “This will equip Indigenous women with the knowledge they need to make the best decisions possible for their own bodies.”

One of the unique aspects of this project is the inclusion of boys and men in this work, which shifts the focus of SRHR being the sole focus of women. This project brings all genders into the circle. “As a Nehiyaw Iskwew (Cree Woman), supporting Indigenous communities to take the lead in creating solutions, this project is practising wahkotowin (kinship) among the Indigenous peoples of the world. CAAN is extremely blessed to be leading by Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, including our brothers and sisters in solution-building opportunities and Indigenous ways forward,” says Margaret Kisikaw Piyesis, citizen of George Gordon First Nation and CEO of CAAN.

CAAN is well-positioned to leverage international Indigenous wisdom and collaboratively share lessons learned about how to improve SRHR outcomes for Indigenous women. As secretariat to the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS(IIWGHA), CAAN works closely with community and research organizations embedded in this work.

“We’ve been working on these issues since 2009, but our collective action began as early as 1989 in Montreal, Canada during the International AIDS Conference (IAC),” says Trevor Stratton, citizen of Mississauga of the Credit First Nations and IIWGHA Coordinator. “This project is the result of our relationship and trust building efforts and it’s rewarding to see meaningful investment in this important work.”

For more information, contact Carrie Martin at or +1902-433-0900