Reaching Out to Canadian Youth

This summer, Roxanne Ma, CANFAR Manager of National Awareness Programs, and Muluba Habanyama, CANFAR National Youth Ambassador, travelled to Canada’s west coast where they facilitated a digital storytelling workshop at the “Youth Unleashing Power” symposium in Vancouver Island, BC. The aim was reaching out to Canadian youth

Roxanne and Muluba connected with over 21 young Canadians living with HIV, and created a communal digital story. Youth shared their personal stories and experiences. They also shared messages that they want their peers and allies to know about what it’s like living with HIV as a young person.

CANFAR also developed two community partnerships, with Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS) in Toronto, ON and YouthCo in Vancouver, BC. CANFAR will support ACAS in the development of sexual health resources for Asian newcomer women and trans women. CANFAR will also support YouthCo in their Yúusnewas Program and Peer Education Program, which focus on community-based HIV education workshops for Indigenous urban youth, and youth who are out of school, street-involved, affected by addictions, and youth in custody or in foster care in Vancouver.

Em Osborne, CANFAR’s Youth Programs Assistant, attended the Guelph Sexuality Conference in June, where CANFAR was an exhibitor, and connected with over 100 researchers, service providers, health educators, practitioners, physicians, and activists to promote our classroom resources.

Kendra St. Cyr, CANFAR’s One and All Intern, has been connecting with young artists to develop a six-part poster series to be used in our awareness program.

Cameron Dunkin, CANFAR Manager of Research and Program Integration, along with Vhil Castillejos, Awareness Program Assistant, have continued consulting with community partners, researchers and developers to create digital resources for “young guys who like guys” under our Youth Awareness Program, BOOM.

Finally, the CANFAR National Youth Art Competition closed earlier this spring. Our jury of international artists have selected six young Canadian artists to have their artwork featured on health resources for Canadian youth in their own province or territory. Winners are represented in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Northwest Territories.

CANFAR is committed to reaching out to Canadian youth, forming more partnerships and relationships with diverse communities across Canada, engaging more at-risk youth through community-based activities, and increasing overall HIV awareness among young people in Canada.


The above photo was created by youth living with HIV from across Canada. It was taken at the “Youth Unleashing Power” symposium in Vancouver Island, BC in June 2017, where CANFAR led a digital storytelling workshop which had as its aim reaching out to Canadian youth. Peers assembled their HIV medication and other pills (such as depression and anxiety pills, multivitamins, etc.) together into a heart to represent both the struggles, realities and hardships of living with HIV, as well as the importance and power of community, love, support, and solidarity for people living with HIV.

Authored by Roxanne Ma, CANFAR Manager of National Awareness Programs.