The Network and SISHA are at an interesting crossroads. Some of our members will be well aware of the funding scenario that has played out across Canada over the last year; some of you will have no idea. This is to get everyone up-to-date on the latest way the federal government has disrupted/interrupted our way forward.
For most of 20 years, funding through the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) community-based HIV and AIDS programs ensured ANHN core operations, and more recently they funded SISHA through the Saskatchewan Enhancement Initiative. However, last fall, ANHN was given notice that it would not be invited to apply to the latest articulation of the PHAC HIV community fund. ANHN was not alone in this experience and other long-term funded organizations across the province and country were also defunded, like AIDS Saskatoon and the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network.
There is collateral damage that goes along with this major shift, in particular in SK, ANHN was the only province-wide network of agencies, individuals, and communities responding to HIV. The provincial government does not have an established network like ANHN, and through one poorly implemented (maybe even unethically) funding program, PHAC has eliminated the Network part of ANHN. With this, our focus on HIV, AIDS and Hepatitis C is also no longer required – that is, the funding we received to deliver on HIV and related issues no longer exists. SISHA will have to end if no new funds are secured to support the ongoing implementation through to March 2019, as originally intended.
We are at a crossroads; we are visioning for a sustainable future; we have known for years HIV is not the problem. How can we shift in a way that stays true to our roots, provides a sustainable and stable funding environment for the organization, and centres on Indigenous ways (i.e., culture, ceremonies, language, songs, skills, etc.) as the solution, the medicine, and the intervention? This is the crossroads we are at – a mandate in transition – as we vision together what ANHN will do.
Recently the staff and Board were on a visioning retreat for two-days together. This was the beginning of a conversation of how we might be able to reorient ourselves in the work. What gifts do we all bring to the organization and how can these be used to influence and reinforce what is important to us in this work. There is also a commitment to continue challenging PHAC on their botched process and lack of transparency; however, we cannot wait to see if they will recognize the error of their ways. We must continue determining what our role is through the needs of our members and the gaps we see in the work we do.