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|Mar 28, 2023|
NWAC’s Health Unit works on a number of projects designed to support Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, Transgender, and Gender-Diverse People. One such project is the RED Path Project: Re-forging Connections, Empowering Indigenous Women to Heal, and Driving Change for a Healthy Future. RED Path is a long-term project funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) Community Action Fund. We are currently in the early stages of Phase Two.
RED Path’s focus is on providing support to those who are currently incarcerated. Indigenous Women, Girls, Two-Spirit, Transgender, and Gender-Diverse People are given information on sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs), healthy relationships and sexuality, and resources and supports that are available to them. We want to improve their health outcomes while they are incarcerated and afterwards, when they are released, in order to prevent further transmission of STBBIs. Through the RED Path project, NWAC also wants to identify and reduce barriers to health and social services, implement prevention and harm reduction strategies, promote healthy sexuality and relationships, and prioritize Traditional Knowledge and healing.
In Phase Two, our focus is on developing trauma-informed, evidence-based, culturally competent training for employees of federal correctional institutions, so they may provide better support to incarcerated Indigenous individuals.
To accomplish this, we are offering a number of collaborative activities, including an interactive workshop designed by and for Indigenous Women, Two-Spirit, Transgender, and Gender-Diverse People. The workshop is divided into four parts: Indigenous histories and healthy relationships 101, HIV and HCV 101, STBBI prevention and harm re-education 101, and Traditional healing and supports 101.
We are also holding sharing circles, where incarcerated Indigenous Women, Two-Spirit, Transgender, and Gender-Diverse People can discuss and explain their thoughts on barriers to accessing health and support services, their current knowledge and understanding of risk factors that lead to the transmission of STBBIs, and the barriers that prevent individuals from adopting personal behaviours that will help prevent the transmission of STBBIs.
In the staff consultation group sessions, we hope to identify:
February was the RED Path Team’s first site visit during Phase Two and the first in-person visit since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The team travelled across Turtle Island to S'olh Temexw, the Traditional territory of the Stó:lō People, also known as Abbotsford, British Columbia, where the Fraser Valley Institution for Women is located. Participants shared their stories and experiences before and during incarceration as well as their plans upon release. Fraser Valley Institution’s Elder joined the RED Path team.
The RED Path team will be visiting another six federally regulated correctional facilities across Turtle Island this year. We are grateful that Indigenous Women, Two-Spirit, Transgender, and Gender-Diverse People who are incarcerated are entrusting us with their stories, experiences, and perspectives. We will continue to work to empower those currently incarcerated and work to amplify these voices further.