La Ronge hosts HIV/AIDS conference
Not to be beaten out by Toronto,
La Ronge hosted a day-and-a half HIV/AIDS conference featuring
Sue Johanson, a sex educator and host of the Sunday Night Sex Show, a panel of people living with HIV infection, workshops and an overview of the work of AIDS Saskatoon.
Sue Johanson, sex edudator and host of the Sunday Night Sex Show, was the keynote speaker at the HIV/AIDS conference held at the Kikinahk Friendship Centre March 14 and 15.
Raucus gales of laughter filled the Kikinahk hall in response to the humour and antics of comedian Don Burnstick March 14.
Participants from across the north filled the Kikinahk hall for the HIV/AIDS Conference.
On the lighter side, comedian Don Burnstick provided the entertainment
at the community banquet.
“I think we’ve had an overwhelming
turnout to our conference;
I think it was successful,” said Wendy McPhail, co-ordinator for the event.
In the early winter a committee was formed to plan an event and the pieces fell into place, McPhail said, adding the comments from participants included making the conference an annual event.
The purpose for the event was two-fold, creating awareness about the risks of HIV/AIDS and finding ways to respond with respect
and compassion to people in the community who live with HIV or AIDS.
People often move away from the community when they learn they are HIV positive or living with AIDS, McPhail said, so finding
ways to let people know there are supportive, friendly people living in La Ronge; they don’t have to move away.
Johanson encouraged people of all ages to talk openly about sex and with the provision of information,
particularly to young people as a protection against rising instances
of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
She noted the gender differences
in response how young males are much more familiar at an early age, with their genital anatomy; girls usually are not, she said.
Participants had the opportunity
to learn more about HIV/AIDS later in the day by participating in one of three workshops geared to the general awareness of HIV/AIDS, or with a focus on either health care or education.
Sherri Doell and Gina McKay of AIDS Saskatoon offered a presentation
on community responses to HIV/AIDS; with the use of a PowerPoint presentation the two women offered a detailed outline on the work of AIDS Saskatoon and their programs.
The first day of the conference wrapped up with a banquet and entertainment by comedian Don Burnstick.
Raucous laughter could be heard throughout the hall as people responded to Burnstick’s humour and antics.
Tanner Cook, Kikinahk’s HIV/AIDS educator, presented Burnstick
with a ceremonial drum.
A presentation, with a panel made up of people living with HIV; focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.
Members of the panel, which was made up of three adults and one child, told their personal stories
about the diagnosis of HIV and what it’s meant in their lives since.
The conference ended with a ceremonial circle with people either living with HIV/AIDS or whose lives are affected standing in the circle while others formed an outer circle. The people from the outer circle moved to greet the people in the inner circle as a powerful sign of support, friendship
Sue Johanson’s presentation and the Panel discussion will be covered in depth in next week’s Northerner.
Members of the planning committee
include: Ron Woytowich, Kikinahk’s executive director, Tanner Cook, Kikinahk’s HIV/AIDS educator, Wendy McPhail, sexual wellness co-ordinator and Deanna Bartok, public health nurse, both with the Mamawetan Churchill River Health Authority.
Valerie G. Connell