We are well on our way to promoting the Assessing Community Readiness & Implementing Risk Reduction Strategies with the National Association of Friendship Centres. CAAN has developed a strong partnership with NAFC and MaryAnn Notarianni has been an amazing resource to me when coordinating the National Train the Trainers session that took place in Ottawa earlier this month. We had eight regional representatives all eager to learn about the Community Readiness Model, and strengthen their Friendship Centres capacity around Risk Reduction.
The second aspect of the Train the Trainer is to assist in facilitating the Community Readiness Assessments. We managed to coordinate most of the site visits prior to the training session in Ottawa, so it would be fresh in their minds to do the assessments. It means a lot of time on the road, but because it is for our people it is well worth it.
I also want to thank the women who took part in the Train the Trainer session, I learned a lot from them even though I was facilitating the training. This experience provided the opportunity for us to have discussions about what puts our people at risk for HIV/HCV. Some of the things that we spoke about are not new to the movement, such as drug use, unprotected sex, etc., but just knowing that these are common and that our people are struggling makes this work even more important.
During the month of August, I will be visiting four Friendship Centres which include: the Centre d’amitié autochtone de La Tuque, the Indian Metis Friendship Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the Newo Yotina Friendship Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan, and ending with the Red Deer Native Friendship Society, in Red Deer, Alberta.
The first Centre in La Tuque, is located in a small town north of Quebec City. The centre is very supportive to the Aboriginal people who live in the town and the surrounding communities and has a number of programs that support youth initiatives. They supply lunch to students and provide art programs where youth can come in and make use of the available resources. They also have a drop-in centre where Aboriginal people can come and use the computers, watch TV and have a meal.
Michelle Dupius was the regional representative who attended the training and she was a remarkable host. The language barrier was not as inconvenient as I thought it would be since she offered to translate with the people of the town and while the Friendship Centre made an effort to speak English.
During my visit to this centre I was fortunate enough to see an anti-drug video being shot by the local youth. It was a very empowering sight to see and the centre has agreed to share some of these videos with us to boost our French content at CAAN. Great Work and a big thank you to them!
This experiences I’ve had working on this project have been very exciting. It will help people see that Risk Reduction can happen anywhere, and that it is important work. Many of the front line staffs I have met are motivated, caring people who are looking for ways to help our people with their everyday struggles. This is also an opportunity for CAAN to promote the work that is already taking place in their region by the regional Aboriginal AIDS Service Organization. One component of community readiness speaks to networking as one of the main actions of that stage, so this is the beginning of new partnerships and collaborations between these and other organizations.
My next stop will be with the Indian Metis Friendship Centre in Winnipeg. I look forward to meeting with Stephanie Mathias and conducting the interviews.
If you have any questions about this work or any of the work that CAAN is involved in please call 1-604-266-7616 or visit our website www.caan.ca
Community Readiness Project Coordinator
About the Author: Merv Thomas is the National Programs Communications Manager for the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN).