Supporting our national partners and working with local organizations to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS across the country.
This fall, I represented the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR)’s One and All program in Edmonton, Alberta. I was accompanied by our National Youth Ambassador, Muluba Habanyama, who was invited to speak at the 25th anniversary of the Edmonton AIDS Walk.
We had the pleasure of being hosted by Laura Keegan, who leads public engagement at HIV Edmonton. Laura’s passion for the cause was evident and our time with her was invaluable. She organized local media interviews for Muluba to speak about her HIV disclosure and experience with discrimination. Laura was instrumental in giving CANFAR a greater platform to share our message with the people of Edmonton.
I also had the privilege of attending YEG Youth Connect, an event for street-involved youth. CANFAR participated as a community sponsor, hosting an interactive educational game for over 125 youth. This was an incredible experience – the feeling of raising awareness about HIV among youth and clearing up various misconceptions around the virus was not only rewarding, but purposeful. It reminds me of why CANFAR’s work is so relevant and how important it is for us to continue building relationships with different communities, particularly at-risk populations, to increase education about HIV. CANFAR is so grateful to the Slaight Family Foundation for giving us the opportunity to do so.
Finally, I had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with Adrienne Larocque, an Indigenous youth educator, to lead a community arts-based workshop. We partnered with iHuman Youth Society, a local arts-based organization that helps inner-city youth develop employable skills through artistic expression. At iHuman, Adrienne and I provided hot meals to more than 25 youth. We then guided them through a community-mapping workshop, allow youth to express themselves through creative mediums and learn about the health services near them.
My time in Edmonton was a meaningful reminder of why efforts in HIV research and prevention are still so needed, and how powerful a tool education can be in this effort to end HIV and AIDS.
Authored by Roxanne Ma, CANFAR Coordinator of Administration & Volunteer Engagement