Looking back on 2018’s Phase 1 year, we saw the initiation of the WoW project with our first team gathering at Koeye Lodge in Bella Bella, BC in August. Here, the team helped to develop the concept of an HIV Older, Indigenous knowledge holders who have lived long-term with HIV (i.e., more than 10 years) and who have the wisdom and experience to support HIV wellness for other Indigenous people living with HIV and AIDS (IPHAs).

In a beautiful setting, dedicated to land-based healing, the WoW Team connected to a deeper understanding of how HIV Olders have been leaders in the HIV community and how their knowledge and experience supports the HIV community and IPHAs. This retreat shaped the direction of the WoW journey and continues to guide how we will weave the wisdoms of our Olders to support IPHAs through connecting with their culture and how they might optimize their wellness through the HIV journey with land-based healing positive action initiatives. This process will be informed by our ongoing scoping review that is exploring what land-based healing methodologies are that are meaningful to Indigenous people and how they can be adapted to IPHAs.

The success of the WoW study is tied to how we share the knowledge gathered during all of the project phases. Opportunities to share knowledge is done with respect for our teachers, their journeys, and the community members who we hope can benefit from the wisdoms woven in this project. Knowledge sharing activities related to Phase 1 include some of the following:

  • WoW was present on December 1st, 2018 at the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week (AAAW) and the 30th anniversary of World AIDS day in Ottawa when Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U) was officially endorsed on Parliament Hill by Canada’s Minister of Health, the honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor.
  • WoW contributed a commentary to the Journal of Indigenous HIV Research titled: ​“I’m here and I’m going to do what I’m going to do”: What is an HIV Older? Here, the concept of HIV Olders was introduced in the context of supporting the principle of Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV (GIPA) and recognizing how the longitudinal knowledge combined with the cultural knowledge of HIV Olders will benefit IPHAs, service providers, and the broader community at large.​
  • Members of the WoW team presented this commentary at the 2019 Canadian Association for HIV Research (CAHR) Conference in Saskatoon in May.
  • WoW launched our message globally with the release of www.weavingourwisdoms.com in June 2019. Here, folks can follow the project’s progress, learn about optimizing HIV wellness through land-based teachings, IPHAs can apply to attend our WoW Gathering in the fall of 2019, and look for updates on our National WoW Gathering.

2019 was a big year for the WoW team! We went to conferences, held workshops, and had our first Gathering on the land.

You can also read our 2019 Annual Report for more information about our busy year.