Strong Voices (Aboriginal Communities)

The Strong Voices Program is a culturally integrated HIV support, prevention and awareness program led and delivered by and for Aboriginal people. Our goal is to reduce the harm associated with HIV and hepatitis C for all individuals and communities that we serve.

Strong Voices is founded in the Aboriginal worldview, guided and led by and for local community. With a focus on moving along a path of wellness and healing, Strong Voices engages Aboriginal communities with:

  • Training and Workshops
  • Aboriginal Client Services
  • Outreach and Community Engagement
  • Publications

Why Aboriginal people?

Aboriginal people are over-represented in new HIV diagnoses and reported AIDS cases in Alberta.  Aboriginal people made up 33% of total reported AIDS cases in Alberta in 2010. This indicates that Aboriginal people were less likely to be tested or seek treatment for HIV infection. Because of the stigma attached to HIV, as well as cultural traditions and the historical context, the Aboriginal HIV epidemic is often difficult or altogether avoided topic.

Strong Voices Workshop & Trainings

Presentations and workshops are aimed at understanding HIV in the context of Aboriginal culture, tradition, and historical context.

Colonialism, Intergenerational Trauma & HIV

  • The importance of Aboriginal culture and ceremony through the sacred circle teachings and the medicine wheel.
  • The history and effects of Residential school
  • The impact of infectious diseases, specifically HIV/AID, in regards to Aboriginal people.
  • Identify the impacts of intergenerational trauma & Social determinants of Aboriginal People

Community HIV Education and Awareness Presentation

  • HIV basics, testing, transmission and prevention

Service Provider Training on the unique determinants of Aboriginal HIV-related issues

Strong Voices Aboriginal Client Services

Strong Voices connects Aboriginal people with culturally based awareness, prevention and healing practices. We provide support services for people experiencing risk such as street-involvement, homelessness, substance use and addictions, mental health, isolation, lack of access to health care, identity and cultural issues. Services include:

  • Cultural
  • Counselling
  • Health: Resources and Referrals including harm reduction supplies
  • Short-term (crisis) or long-term and mobile (case management) support
  • Employment and retraining support: Resume building, career exploration, interview skills, education/training planning support
  • Advocacy: Social benefits (financial, health care), Child and Family Services, etc.
  • Practical supports: Basic needs
  • Legal Support: Court accompaniment, legal information (referrals), pardon and victim compensation application support
  • Referrals: Mental health support, addiction treatment, housing, financial support, etc.
  • Education: Community presentations about aboriginal issues and related issues for individuals, partners, and families.
  • ELIGABILITY:
    • Self-Identify as Aboriginal/Metis/Inuit
    • Adults, independent youth and families
    • Living with or NOT living with HIV

Strong Voices Community Engagement and Outreach

Community level outreach and case management (including access to Elders) for Aboriginal people.  As well as meeting clients in the community and participating in aboriginal community events around Calgary.

Strong Voices Publications

Our graphic novel series – Strong Voices: Stories of Struggle and Strength Living with HIV

Aboriginal specific condom inserts
Medicine Wheel

Snag Safely

Other Strong Voices Activities

  • Free safer sex and risk reduction supplies for individuals, groups and organizations
  • Strong Voices Gathering – Annual event that focuses on Aboriginal people and HIV.

Strong Voices FAQ

Can I eat with my relatives who are living with HIV?

Yes – HIV cannot live outside the body and it cannot be passed through saliva or skin contact. There is no risk of HIV in this situation.

Can my relative, who is living with HIV, cook meals?

Yes – HIV cannot live outside the body and it cannot be passed through saliva or skin contact.  There is no risk of HIV in this situation.

How long will my relative, who is HIV positive, live?

A person living with HIV can live a full life as long as they are taking care of themselves, living a healthy lifestyle and taking their medications consistently.

Can my relative, who is living with HIV, hold my baby?

Yes HIV cannot live outside the body and it cannot be passed through saliva or skin contact.  There is no risk of HIV in this situation.

How do we get our medications? Do we pay for our medications?

In Alberta, HIV medication is covered by provincial health insurance.  For Inuit and First Nations people, Health Canada’s Non-Insured Health Benefit program (NIHB) [note there is a hyperlink here – please retain] also provides some coverage for HIV and related treatments. People living with HIV can get treatment from the Southern Alberta Clinic located at the Sheldon Chumir in Calgary, Alberta.

My relative passed away from HIV, is it safe to move into their house?

Yes, HIV cannot live outside the body and it cannot live on surfaces.

 

Strong Voices is guided and led by and for local community. Our focus is on moving along a path of wellness and healing.

For referrals and more information contact:

Waylon Yellowhorn, Strong Voices Program Coordinator
W: (403) 508-2500 ext. 115
C: (403) 554-8202
E: wyellowhorn@hivcl.org or strongvoices@hivcl.org