Now that the dust has settled on our LACE premiere, we want to offer congratulations to our friends at Chee Mamuk. They have every reason to celebtrate the good work they do, and now they have an award for it!
On April 18, the BC Persons With AIDS Society held an Awards Gala honoring volunteers, paid staff, visionaries, activists and consistent supportive voices who work on behalf of people living with HIV as well as in prevention. We couldn't be more thrilled that Chee Mamuk has won in the category of Innovative Programs & Service Delivery!
I wasn't there to see it, but Melanie Rivers, Jada Gabrielle-Pape and Felicia Tebb sang a women's warrior song dedicated to women living with HIV. Melanie told us that many other really great groups were nominated for this award, so it is really an honour to receive it. "We are honored to be acknowledged by the HIV community for our work. We accepted this award on behalf of Aboriginal people living with and who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS, their families and communities who are learning to support them as they are our teachers."
It is also really important to acknowledge that rates of HIV infection are higher amonst BC's Aboriginal people. Innovative solutions to reducing stigma, increasing care, and supporting prevention that are community-based and culturally relevant are critically important. Chee Mamuk's approach is rooted in tradition and many years of working with community, I know them well enough to say they know what is important and what works.
I'd like to say they replace the scare tactics, with 'care tactics'!
Here at Hello Cool World we have had the priviledge of working with these amazing women of Chee Mamuk, as well as with some of the BC CDC street nurses, in the five years we have been doing the 'Star in Your Own Stories' workshop with them. These workshops combine HIV/STI and sexual health education, with hands-on access to video gear and on the spot training with our Hello Cool World video team, to collectively film a short film over the weekend the workshop takes place. Our latest short film, "By My Name" as well as the others can be seen at www.YouthHaveThePower.com
The workshop is done in a context where the community has been prepared for it and has contributed resources. Chee Mamuk supports the long term use of the short film as it first premieres with a community feast hounouring the youth who made it, and then goes on to be used all over Canada as an educational tool.
Another one of their projects is "Reclaiming Tradition, Around The Kitchen Table (ATKT): a Model for HIV, Hepatitis and Sexual Health Education. The goal of the ATKT model is to train women in Aboriginal communities to implement a series of ATKT sessions with women in their own communities. These sessions combine information about HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with cultural activities such as cedar bark weaving or beadwork.
This kind of creative thinking, and long term vision for change is what sets Chee Mamuk's programming apart. This workshop is only one of their innovative programs. Their commitment to 'wise practices' is truly ground-breaking and it is an honour to work with them.
They hope, as do we, that we can turn the SIYOS workshop into a model that can be shared and spread, therefore allowing even more impact to come from it.
As Chee Mamuk's Mandate is to not only deliver these programs, but to build and share models for doing the work, we think they are richly deserving of this award.
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