The kʷiisḥinčiƛ: Transformation project was officially named in ceremony in October 2018 by Elder Valerie Nicholson.

The project is a partnership between the Women and HIV Research Program (WHRP) at Women’s College Hospital and CAAN – Communities, Alliances & Networks and leadership of the project by CAAN.

The kʷiisḥinčiƛ: Transformation project is committed to continuing strength-based and culturally-grounded work for and with Indigenous women. Its base funding has come from WHRP’s CIHR Foundation Grant and its objective is to carry out research and knowledge translation driven by Indigenous women living with HIV:to further strength-based and culturally-grounded research for the wellbeing of Indigenous women living with/or affected by HIV through partnerships, the use of Community-Based Research (CBR), and “Two-eyed Seeing” research methods.

From 2018 to 2025, the kʷiisḥinčiƛ: Transformation Project team will further strength-based and culturally-grounded research for the well-being of Indigenous women living with and impacted by HIV through partnerships, the use of CBR, and “Two-eyed Seeing” research methods. One major activity of the kʷiisḥinčiƛ: Transformation Project is the analyses of the Indigenous women’s data in the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health cohort study (CHIWOS) ( as its own cohort and for this to be led by the Indigenous CHIWOS Peer Research Associates. These analyses will be completed, and findings will be shared via Sharing Circles and/or retreats.

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Structure of the kʷiisḥinčiƛ Transformation Project

To learn more about these projects, contact Carrie Martin.


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Learn more about our initiatives

There have been many exciting research projects to support Indigenous women living with and affected by HIV in Canada. These projects include: the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) and CHIWOS Aboriginal Advisory Board- Prioritizing the Health Needs of Positive Aboriginal Women (CAAB-PAW); Strong Bear Women’s Journey (SBWJ); Visioning Health I (VH I) and Visioning Health II (VH II); Women, Art and the Criminalization of HIV (WATCH); Teachings from the Cradleboard: Supporting Indigenous Mothers Living with HIV in Ways that Work; Building Bridges; Digging Deep: Examining the Root Causes of HIV and AIDS in Aboriginal Women; and the Women and HIV Research Program (WHRP) Foundation Grant Objective 3.

This Catalyst Grant’s objectives are to:

  1. connect team members from across the country who have conducted strength-based research with Indigenous women living with and affected by HIV;
  2. develop a national Team, by connecting the research groups, including Indigenous women living with HIV, Elders, Indigenous community leaders, Indigenous Organizations and Indigenous and allied researchers; and
  3. develop a strategic plan to present research findings aimed to impact the lives of Indigenous women living with and affected by HIV in a positive way.

A 2.5-day meeting with members from each Research Team listed above was postponed due to COVID-19. This meeting was intended for the respective teams to present their projects, discuss a larger Umbrella Team and develop a preliminary Strategic Knowledge Dissemination and Implementation Plan. We have launched the successful virtual series called Fireside Chats to remain connected and advance the project.

In June 2014, the United Nations Inter-Agency Support Group on Indigenous Issues published a Thematic Paper on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of Indigenous Peoples. In 2017, the WHO released a consolidated guideline on the SRHR of women living with HIV. Both stated the need to recognize the rights of Indigenous people to control their own health systems. To meet these international organizations’ goals, the CIHR Grant will be rolled out in 7 countries.

The proposed project has 3 specific aims:

  1. Improved understanding of barriers affecting data collection, analysis, utilization, and communication related to SRHR of Indigenous women and girls living with HIV;
  2. Increased partnerships to inform SRHR care programming, planning, and learning; and
  3. Enhanced capacity of future Indigenous and allied researchers, civil society professions, and in-country leaders to collect, analyze, communicate, and use data effectively.

The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN) is a leader in Indigenous health and HIV-related research, and the proposed project builds on our successful partnerships with 7 countries. A ‘Two-eyed Seeing’ approach will connect biomedical science with Indigenous ways of knowing.

Activities and outputs:

  • Scoping literature and policy review on the state of SRHR care of Indigenous women and girls living with HIV, and analyses of relevant international and Canadian policies;
  • Capacity-building group discussions to increase opportunities for local Indigenous women to engage in research activities;
  • Validated and context-specific survey on SRHR care from an Indigenous perspective;
  • Toolkit to reflect local project findings;
  • Context-specific Indigenous knowledge translation.

This Project will enhance the ability of Indigenous women and girls to engage in all levels of research while strengthening our global Indigenous and allied partnerships.

The Fireside Chats series serves as a monthly opportunity to share and discuss different research projects focusing on Indigenous women and HIV in Canada, and to provide capacity-building opportunities. This is not to replace the broader gathering but to create space for teams to come together, connect, and have meaningful discussions about the research projects moving forward.


CHIWOS PAW BC – Water is at the Heart: Using Water Teachings to Create a CHIWOS PAW Gathering with Indigenous Women living with HIV on the Coast Salish TerritoriesJune 16, 2020

Join us for the inaugural Fireside Chat. On behalf of the CHIWOS-PAW BC Research Team, Valerie Nicholson will lead us on a journey, illustrating how a collaborative team of Indigenous women living with HIV, Elders, and researchers came together to develop a strengths-based research study to understand how Indigenous women living with HIV living on the Coast Salish Territories understand their health through traditional ways of knowing. This arts-based and interactive gathering will describe the CHIWOS PAW BC process, with a focus on how the team Indigenized research using Water Teachings, ceremony, and art.

Visioning Health 2: “Do I Look Taller? I Feel Taller.”: Meaningfully Engaging HIV-positive Indigenous Women in Research that Grows CommunityAugust 18, 2020 

Visioning Health II (VH II) is a mixed-method, culturally–grounded, strengths-based, arts-informed and community-based participatory health intervention research project designed by and for HIV-positive Indigenous women. In this session, women and knowledge keepers share their experiences of Visioning Health, including the change that can happen in women’s lives when research is attended to in a good way.

What Women Want – Through CAAN: To learn; to investigate, to communicate – September 23, 2020

Join us in discussing effective communication strategies, research with Indigenous women; what needs to be shared and promoted; what we want to understand more deeply and what we want to learn more about. This session is interactive and consultative. We want to talk about:    
– what ‘CAAN’ can offer, highlighting our women’s research projects and partnerships
– hear What Women Want from diverse communities of women living with HIV/AIDS, Hep C and STIs and related comorbidities; advocates; program staff; researchers; policy makers; friends and family

Strong Bear Women’s Journey: “I Feel Really Healthy Being Here”: Understanding What “Healthy” Means to Indigenous Women Living with HIV – October 7, 2020

With Strong Bear Women Journey, we aimed to inform the delivery of care that supports the health and well-being of Indigenous women with HIV. We drew from community-based and Indigenist (Wilson, 2008) research methods to determine a) the healthcare needs and b) experiences of Indigenous women living with HIV. More importantly, our team aimed to build a reciprocal research process which involved teaching participants about research processes and inviting them to share what they wanted to do at the retreat. In this presentation, we share about our memorable drum-making research retreat and reflect on our learnings from the women, the experience, and healthcare overall.

HIV stigma, disclosure, criminalization and access to care: Findings from the SHAWNA Project November 12, 2020 

The SHAWNA Project includes arts-based, qualitative and longitudinal quantitative research approaches with and for cisgender and transgender women and two-spirit people living with HIV in Metro Vancouver. SHAWNA is grounded in community-based principles to meaningfully engage participants in research and works closely with a Positive Women’s Advisory Board of 15 SHAWNA participants. Long-time community partners include the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network, the Afro-Canadian Positive Network of BC and YouthCo HIV & Hep C Society. In this session, we will explore key ideas related to HIV stigma, disclosure, criminalization and access to care, with a particular focus to include Indigenous women’s perspectives.


Women, Art, and the Criminalization of HIV (WATCH)I Shall Conquer and Prevail”: Re-imaging Resilience and Well-Being through Engaging in Acts of Resistance December 11, 2020 

Drawing on the narrative and visual data collected through the Body Mapping workshops with Women Living with HIV, and analyzed over the course of a 3.5 day participatory analysis workshop, the WATCH team uncovered a significant number of images and words related to the broad theme of ‘Resilience & Resistance’. We attributed this to the resilience of the women who participated in WATCH and to our strengths-based approach, which grounded our Body Mapping methodology and was central to the creative exercises to which we asked participants to respond. distinct interpretations of this theme in the visual and narrative data:
i) Resilience – “I’ve accepted me forwho I am”; and
ii) Resistance – “Accept us for who we are.”
We are asking participants to bring two images of something that symbolizes or captures: Resilience AND Resistance; this is optional.

Building More Bridges: We are the Spirit of the Numbers in the Data – January 19, 2021 

Join us for a conversation on how Building More Bridges brought community, culture, research, and data together. We will share the process of our work done in Saskatchewan on the lands of the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii (Blackfoot), Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux), Michif Piyii (Métis) and Cree. Our team was led by people with positive living experiences, researchers, and allies from across Turtle Island and honored a diversity of cultural teachings that guided our project. Discover how to develop a research question that is informed and led by community.

Learning Cradleboard Teachings as we Work TogetherFebruary 10, 2021 

In this presentation, we will discuss how colonization and resulting systemic barriers continue to impact Indigenous women living with HIV during pregnancy and mothering experiences. We continue to collect and incorporate traditional Indigenous mothering practices into the Cradleboard Toolkit for Indigenous Mothers living with HIV. We will also lead a discussion of personal connections with traditional Indigenous practices, such as the use of a cradleboard in our families and we welcome participants to share their stories as well.

Digging Deep: Examining the Root Causes of HIV and AIDS Among Aboriginal Women May 12, 2021 

This project began in 2014 and concluded in 2018. It is a partnership between Morning Star Lodge and All Nations Hope Network. Our goal was to focus on Indigenous women and their life experiences as part of helping the women and All Nations Hope Network develop evidence-based community solutions that are culturally safe and focused on the strengths and assets of the women we worked with. To develop models of culturally appropriate care that meet the needs of HIV and HCV-positive Indigenous women. To understand the contributing causes of HIV in Saskatchewan.

CHIWOS PAW BC: Wise Women Canoe JourneysJuly 13, 2021

In Wise Women Canoe Journeys, the CHIWOS-PAW BC re-search comes full circle. On behalf of CHIWOS-PAW BC, Valerie Nicholson will lead us on a journey to understanding the teachings gifted to us from the Wise Women who participated in CHIWOS-PAW. Wise Women from CHIWOS-PAW will share their own personal canvases of their own personal health journey, and how they are leading future Gatherings Around the Fire. By focusing on the words, art, and teachings of the Wise Women, we will spend time during this Gathering reflecting on how we can better support the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Women living with HIV.

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kʷiisḥinčiƛ Transformation Project Tools & Resources

Fireside Chats Virtual Series

Fireside Chats Virtual Series

The Fireside Chats series serves as a monthly opportunity to share and discuss different research projects focusing on Indigenous women and HIV in Canada, and to provide capacity-building opportunities.

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kʷiisḥinčiƛ Transformation Project News & Views

kʷiisḥinčiƛ Transformation Project News & Views

Join Our Monthly Virtual Fireside Chats

The Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network is pleased to invite you to join our monthly virtual Fireside Chats research series. For the next year, we will be welcoming guest speakers from various Indigenous Women’s HIV research projects to share their research stories with you.

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kʷiisḥinčiƛ Transformation Project Events & Workshops

kʷiisḥinčiƛ Transformation Project Events

Sorry, we don’t currently have any events or workshops under this term or topic. Please check back soon.

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Nadia O’Brien, Carrie Martin, Doris Peltier, Angela Kaida, Marissa Becker, Carrie Bourassa, Laverne Gervais, Sharon Bruce, Mona Loutfy, Alexandra de Pokomandy, CHIWOS–PAW research team. Employing Indigenous Methodologies to Understand Women’s Perceptions of HIV, Health, and Well-being in Quebec, Canada. International Review of Qualitative Research. 2020, Vol. 13(2) 160–181.

Peltier, D., Martin C, Masching, R., Standup, M., Cardinal, C., Nicholson, V., Kazemi, M., Kaida, A., Warren, L., Jaworsky, D., Gervais, L., de Pokomandy, A., Bruce, S., Greene, S., Becker, M., Cotnam, J., Larkin, K., Beaver, K., Bourassa, C., & Loutfy M. (2020). A journey of doing research “in a good way”: Partnership, ceremony, and reflections contributing to the care and wellbeing of Indigenous women living with HIV in Canada. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 11(4).

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