Reconstructing the Home-fire
Since the first reported HIV/AIDS case in North America 40 years ago, there continue to be many people who carry the historical narrative of the Indigenous HIV movement in Canada. Two of these people are Albert McLeod and Randy Jackson, and listeners are in for a real treat as the two discuss what took place in Indigenous communities and how particular leaders helped shape the response to HIV/AIDS.
The episode will also feature art, ceremonial songs and personal narratives that will take us further in our exploration of the perspectives and experiences shared by Indigenous people as we honour the collective legacies of peoples and communities who are living with and/or affected by HIV/AIDS in Canada. This is one timely and important episode that you won’t want to miss!
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
June is a special month as it’s a time in which 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 are excited to have guest host Doris Peltier take us through this month’s episode as 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, with a program of research that explores the use 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 various topics related to Indigenous peoples, cultural reclamation and cross-cultural training.
The response to HIV/AIDS in Indigenous communities
The historical narrative of the Indigenous HIV movement in Canada has not been told in a true historical sense with Indigenous peoples as the narrators of their own HIV history. The story of disease and the pathologizing of Indigenous peoples predate HIV and this pathogenic narrative is what mainstream Canada has gotten used to hearing and reading about when it comes to Indigenous people.
How do we disrupt this colonial narrative of the past that is embedded in the present?
Doris starts off the episode with this chief question and she and her guests collectively grapple with the response through an exploration of topics related 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 still today.
Art as medicine
In the episode, Doris, Albert and Randy also discuss different art modalities, like beading and quilt making, and the importance of having different ways of representing experience and giving people accessible tools to shape and share stories. They briefly touch upon arts-based approaches to doing research and the cultural teachings conveyed in the beadwork of Ruth Cuthand and the quilt made by the Grandmothers Circle for Sexual Health and led by Astrid McNeil for White Wolf Speaking. The quilt (shown below) was put together to illustrate the history and experiences shared by people living with HIV/AIDS, and to bring about healing and restoration of healthy sexuality.
The bears around the outside offered protection and healing to the Circle of Life. It took nine months to create the quilt as it travelled to many communities. Each community contributed a piece to the quilt, as well as a story or teaching about sex and sexuality. The silence around sex was slowly broken and healing was made possible.
When the circular quilt—six feet in diameter—was finished, the group raised it up with leather thongs and tied it like a hide being stretched. It travelled to many community events, gatherings and festivals, and the quilt continues its healing work to this day.
The video Me Mengwa Maa Sinatae:Butterfly Patterns of Light was developed to document this experience and honour the oral storytelling tradition. It is the hope that these conversations and life lessons will continue to help communities create resources to better support people living with HIV/AIDS and 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
This episode also features the music of Burnt Project1, owned by David Boulanger from Winnipeg. BURNT-Project1 is a multi-genre, multi-cultural musical mosaic with a pallet that connects cultures through music and performance. BURNT-Project1 is a multi-award winning ensemble garnering a JUNO, WCMA, multi-ACMA Awards and the CBC Galaxy Rising Star Award.
Further learning opportunities
For other great resources on Indigenous-led research, check out the 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!