Reconstructing the home fire
Since the first reported HIV/AIDS case in North America more than 40 years ago, many Canadians have carried forward their personal narratives reflecting these challenging (often horrendous) times. We're particularly grateful for those accounts that lead to shaping the Indigenous HIV movement in Canada. Two of these remarkable people who did, Elder, Albert McLeod and Dr. Randy Jackson discuss what took place in Indigenous communities, and recount how the many passionate community leaders particularly helped shape the response to HIV/AIDS.
This very special, encore rebroadcast episode further features art, ceremonial song and personal narratives––each magically immersing us into perspectives and experiences shared by Indigenous People. With Indigenous History Month a week away, this important episode honours the collective legacies of peoples and communities who are living with and/or affected by HIV/AIDS. Listen in, reflect and celebrate... and be sure to share the episode too!
Our episode guests
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work and Health, Aging and Society, McMaster University
Originally from Kettle and Stony Point First Nation (Anishinaabe), Jackson explores lived experience among Indigenous peoples living with HIV/AIDS (IPHAs) using Indigenous knowledge, perspectives and values. Jackson is the Nominated Principal Investigator—co-leading with Renée Masching—of the Feast Centre for Indigenous STBBI Research. Jackson’s program of research explores the use of Indigenous knowledge across diverse topics, including experiences of depression, Indigenous masculinity, Indigenous trans health, two-spirit resilience and the leadership of Indigenous peoples living with HIV.
Rhett Butler or Scarlett O'Hara? O'Hara
Sourdough or frybread? Oh god, frybread...Hello?
Singing or dancing? Dancing
Rez or city? City
President, Two-Spirited People of Manitoba Inc.
Albert McLeod is a Status Indian with ancestry from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and the Metis community of Norway House in northern Manitoba. He has over thirty years of experience as a human rights activist and is one of the directors of the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba. Albert was also the director of the Manitoba Aboriginal AIDS Task Force from 1991 to 2001. In 2018, Albert received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Winnipeg. Albert lives in Winnipeg, where he works as a consultant specializing in Indigenous peoples, cultural reclamation and cross-cultural training.
Queen or Princess? Princess
RuPaul's Drag Race or Drag Bingo? RuPaul
City or woodlands? Woodlands
Movies or books? Movies
Just a week away, June is a special month where we celebrate National Indigenous History Month and National Indigenous Peoples Day.
It’s also a time in which we share stories, teachings and traditions, and take action toward Truth and Reconciliation. With this in mind, we're excited to have guest host, Doris Peltier take us on a journey in this month’s episode. She and two special guests, Elder, Albert McLeod and Dr. Randy Jackson, explore key inflection points of the Indigenous HIV movement in Canada.
Dr. Randy Jackson is the Nominated Principal Investigator—co-leading with Renée Masching—of the Feast Centre for Indigenous STBBI Research, a research program that explores the role of Indigenous knowledge across diverse topics, including experiences of depression, Indigenous masculinity, Indigenous trans health and two-spirit resilience.
Elder, Albert McLeod currently serves as the President of Two-Spirited People of Manitoba Inc. in addition to his role a consultant on varying topics related to Indigenous peoples, cultural reclamation and cross-cultural training.
An impassioned response to HIV/AIDS in Indigenous communities
The historical narrative of the Indigenous HIV movement in Canada has yet to be told in a truly authentic, historical way––that is, with Indigenous peoples as the narrators of their own HIV history. The story of disease and the pathologizing of Indigenous peoples long predates HIV. As a result, sadly, this pathogenic narrative is still widely perceived among many Canadians.
How do we disrupt this colonial narrative of the past that is embedded in the present?
Doris starts the episode with this essential question. She and her guests collectively grapple with the response by exploring topics relative to the healing response and cultural teachings; the common teeter-tottering between western medical knowledge and cultural knowledge (and defining ethical space); the historical lack of Indigenous-focused research on HIV; and how Indigenous communities came together to rally at the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. And how they continue to support one another today.
Art as medicine
The group also discusses different art modalities, like beading and quilt making, and the importance of how these accessible tools help to shape and share experience and stories. They briefly touch upon arts-based approaches to doing research and the cultural teachings conveyed in the beadwork of Ruth Cuthand, as well as the quilt crafted by the Grandmothers Circle for Sexual Health, led by Astrid McNeil for White Wolf Speaking. The stunning, intricate quilt (shown below) reflects the history and experiences shared by people living with HIV/AIDS, and helps bring about healing and restoration of healthy sexuality.
The bears around the outside offer protection and healing to the Circle of Life. Its creation took nine months as it travelled among many communities. Each community contributed a piece to the quilt, as well as a story or teaching about sex and sexuality. Throughout the process, silence around sex slowly broke, and healing followed.
When the circular quilt—six feet in diameter—was finished, the group raised it up with leather thongs and tied it similarly to a stretched animal hide. It continues to travel to community events, gatherings and festivals. And continues to heal along the journey.
The video Me Mengwa Maa Sinatae:Butterfly Patterns of Light documents the quilt experience and honours the oral storytelling tradition that follows it. The hope is that these conversations and life lessons will continue to help communities create resources to better support people living with HIV/AIDS, and to also enhance sexual health education to restore balance in their lives.
When loved ones are laid to rest
Where the wind ruffles the wild grass
Butterflies streak the air with white light
The episode also features the music of Burnt Project1, owned by Winnipeger, David Boulanger. BURNT-Project1 is a multi-genre, multi-cultural musical mosaic with a pallet that connects cultures through music and performance. It's also multi-award winning––seciuring a JUNO, WCMA, multi-ACMA Awards, and the CBC Galaxy Rising Star Award!
Opportunities to learn more...
Be sure to check out further compelling resources surrounding Indigenous-led research... Two-Spirit HIV/AIDS Wellness and Longevity Study and a series of YouTube videos on “Decolonizing Methodologies:”
And if you haven’t already listened to the first episode of pozcast’s Season 2 with Doris, check it out now!