By Monique Fong, National Toolkit and Assessing Community Readiness Coordinator
Since my last update there have been some changes in my role here at CAAN. In May, I was given the responsibility of the National Toolkit (NTK) and Assessing Community Readiness projects Coordinator. These two projects fit nicely together and will offer capacity building opportunities to CAAN membership and partner organizations.
The National Toolkit (NTK)
The NTK will be created to meet the need for culturally relevant HIV prevention resources and tools. The four objectives for this project include;
- To help the audience in providing an understanding of the cultural background necessary for tailoring their HIV and AIDS prevention and intervention programs to Aboriginal populations;
- To help the audience in examining the historical and sociological factors that put Aboriginal communities at increased risk for HIV infections;
- To help the audience in identifying the reasons that HIV and AIDS spreads in Aboriginal communities in order to strengthen their intervention programs; and,
- To help the audience in providing methods, examples, and tools with which to carry out and assess their HIV and AIDS prevention programs.
The project is progressing as planned. The HIV prevention resources/tools are being gathered and will be made into PDF files so they can be downloaded from the NTK. CAAN is interested in hearing what Best Practices your organization uses. Any suggestions will be considered for inclusion in the NTK. It is our hope that the NTK will become an ongoing project and that organizations will be able to upload HIV prevention resources.
There are two components of the NTK: the first is a web-based tool and the second is a collection of CAAN resources and tools. CAAN has contracted Possesom Paul to design our web-based tool. He was able to show a mock-up of design at the recent AGM held in Québec City and was open to ideas of making it easy enough to use for all age groups with the workshop participants providing helpful feedback. The second “bundle” of information will be based solely on CAAN’s work. It will highlight all the current projects of CAAN, and other important work that may be valuable to the HIV prevention initiatives.
The Community Readiness (CR) project
Many Aboriginal communities continue to be at a loss as to how to develop strategies and implement culturally appropriate interventions that address HIV/AIDS issues within their communities. In particular, those that reduce harm. The main goal of this initiative is to help Aboriginal communities find a starting point to address reducing the risk for individuals and families as it relates to substance use and other potential harmful behaviours.
This project aims to achieve two objectives that will promote knowledge sharing of wise practices and assist communities in assessing where to begin for implementing their own culturally appropriate interventions. The tools and models that will be shared will influence policies and assist communities to improve and/or increase culturally appropriate HIV and AIDS prevention interventions and services. The ultimate goal is to lower the trends of the HIV and AIDS epidemic among Aboriginal people.
CAAN will achieve this through the following two key project objectives:
- Increasing capacity and knowledge of wise practices on implementing culturally appropriate HIV and AIDS prevention interventions; and,
- Increasing capacity of national Aboriginal organizations to carry out culturally appropriate prevention interventions within their communities.
National Toolkit/Community Readiness Projects
We understand from working with communities across the country that all Aboriginal groups, whether they are on or off reserve, are at different stages of the Community Readiness spectrum. Although many communities seem to be at a loss on where to start, there is definitely a desire to facilitate HIV prevention work to assist Aboriginal people in addressing the HIV epidemic. It is also very important for an Aboriginal community to know where they are at in terms of HIV and AIDS prevention, and to identify where they hope to be.
In our minds, these projects will complement each other. The CR Model will help to assess a community’s readiness to do HIV prevention work while the NTK will provide the community with the necessary tools to facilitate said work.
CAAN has pulled together an NTK/CR steering committee with members stemming from Aboriginal AIDS Service Organizations, experts in Harm Reduction and HIV Prevention as well as National Aboriginal Organizations. The members are; Walter Cavalieri, Michelle Godin, Clarence Frenchmen, Dr. Lynn Leonard, Mary-Ann Nortaninni, Jessica Demeria, Geri Bailey, Sue Ann Phillips, Leona Quewezance, Julie Thomas, Art Zoccole, and Melisa Dickie.
If you have any questions, or if you would like to talk about these two projects, please feel free to contact Monique Fong at 902-433-0900 or by email at Monique@caan.ca.
Yours in the Spirit of Healing,
About the Author: Merv Thomas is the National Programs Communications Manager for the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN).