CANFAR Clubs is an important part of CANFAR’s history. Catherine Pringle, daughter of CANFAR Board Chair Andrew Pringle and CANFAR National Spokesperson, Valerie Pringle, founded CANFAR Clubs at McGill University in 2002. For 15 years, CANFAR has been fostering a generation of young leaders to engage in activism, volunteerism, and philanthropy in their communities, on university and college campuses across Canada. CANFAR Clubs is a critical national effort to educate young Canadian students about HIV and AIDS through various fundraising and awareness initiatives.
Kara Hawker and Marie Boyd are the current Co-Presidents of the Dalhousie University CANFAR Club. Kara is majoring in Biochemistry and hopes to go to pursue medicine in her graduate studies. Marie is majoring in Microbiology. For the past 14 years, Dalhousie’s CANFAR Club has thrown the “Red Party” in Halifax, which has been wildly successful in raising over $5,000 for CANFAR every year, and raising awareness about HIV and AIDS among Canadian university students.
Malia Champagne and Brianna Bethune are the current Co-Presidents of the Acadia University CANFAR Club. Malia is majoring in psychology with a minor in biology, and Brianna is studying Kinesiology. The Acadia CANFAR Club chapter is a newer club, founded by Candis Lepage in 2014. Candis received the 2015 CANFAR Red Ribbon Award for demonstrating outstanding leadership and dedication to raising HIV and AIDS awareness amongst their community.
The success of both clubs is demonstrated through the mentorship the new Co-Presidents receive from previous presidents. This legacy of leadership is the key to sustaining new young leaders.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE CANFAR CLUB ON YOUR CAMPUS?
Co-President of Acadia University CANFAR Club
“I started getting involved at the end of my first year. Throughout my second year, I became really committed to the club through attending meetings and volunteering at events. For me, I felt like I was really under the previous president’s Candace’s wing. She was such a great role model and had a huge impact on why I joined the Acadia CANFAR Club.”
Co-President of the CANFAR Club at Acadia University
“I started getting involved last year. All my friends were on the exec and I saw all the work the Acadia CANFAR Club was doing. I fell in love over the past year and then decided to run for the role as Co-President.”
Co-President of the Dalhousie University CANFAR Club
“I heard about the Dalhousie CANFAR Club first when I was walking through the library and my roommate Jen ran into her friend from Calgary. We were chatting and she said she was on her way to a meeting. I asked her what it was for and she told us about CANFAR. She was with Molly (previous President), so they told us about the Club and the Red Party and I thought it was really cool. So Jen and I went to the first meeting last year.”
Co-President of the Dalhousie University CANFAR Club
“Marie and Jen heard about the CANFAR Club before me. They helped set up the Red Party with Molly and the other girls. That night at the Red Party, I went up to Molly and said, ‘Hi, I’m Marie and Jen’s roommate. I’m really interested in being involved.’ And then I went to the first meeting after the Red Party and they said they were looking for new executives because they were all graduating. I wanted a big role so Marie and I messaged Jordan saying that we wanted to be Co-Presidents.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EVENTS/ACTIVITIES YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR THE YEAR?
“We have a free coffee day on World AIDS Day.”
“And we wanted to do a bake sale with that. The coffee will be free, and [there will be] a bake sale by donation. Every year, we set up a table in the library and we hand out free coffee. We have a café here on campus and they always donate coffee to us, and the university café/restaurant brews it for us. And then of course, the Red Party is on the second week when we get back to school in January. But because it’s so big, and we do so well – we raised $9,000 last year – it covers that semester.”
“Yeah, we put all of our focus on that. We just want to do it as well as Molly did it. We’re just going to try and follow her footsteps.”
“This year will be the 14 th Red Party. Everyone knows what the Red Party is. It’s a big thing. We’re really excited. Molly’s been amazing [and] we’re so lucky. It’s awesome to be the new Co-Presidents of the Dalhousie CANFAR Club.”
WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO INCREASE AWARENESS OF HIV AMONG YOUNG PEOPLE?
“I think it’s is extremely important to educate people at a younger age in order to end the stigma of getting tested and [having youth] be proactive about their health. I feel like a lot of people are awkward about it, and we really need to encourage people that it is something that is OK to be talked about.”
“I feel a lot of groups are very into the fundraising aspect and less about the awareness. I feel like the most fun thing about our group is providing awareness to students.”
“I took a human sexuality course last semester, and we had a [person living with HIV] come in and speak with us about everything they went through and how the stigma, even today, affects them. One of my mentors for medical school is gay, and he’s from Calgary, where he does [HIV work] at home. I think that’s another thing that got me interested in being involved in this work.”
“I learned about HIV in my virology class – about the HIV virus, how it works, and the impact it has had on the entire world, and ways to stop it. The research area is really important, and it’s necessary to raise money for that part of it. [The Red Party] actually does raise a lot of money for a really necessary cause.”