Finding Our Way: A Sexual and Reproductive Health Sourcebook for Aboriginal Communities

ANAC resource:  Finding Our Way:  A Sexual and Reproductive Health Sourcebook for Aboriginal Communities

I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this resource! I would highly recommend using it in whatever ways  you can, it is a comprehensive Sexual Health resource that talks about Sexual Health from an Aboriginal perspective.

Here are some tips from Part 1, Building a Sexual and Reproductive Health Program:

Tips for Planning Your Approach toSexual
and Reproductive Health

Here are some tips to remember in offering a service or program in sexual and reproductive health. To work in a way that heals:

  • Be prepared to learn. Build on the knowledge of community members about their community. Include community leadership (Chief and Band Council, Inuit or Métis community leaders), the churches, nurses, community health representatives, teachers, Elders and other leaders respected by community members.
  • Keep an open mind. The best approach depends on the community and may include a combination of health services, workshops, classroom work in schools, individual counselling, celebrations, and so on.
  • Be a resource to the community to help them decide what to do.
  • Work with people so they gain knowledge and skills and are able to help themselves more and more (empowerment).
  • Give people lots of chances to talk, to teach, to learn and to say what they want and need.
  • Involve community Elders to offer their teachings and to lead ceremonies.
  • Be prepared to include sexual and reproductive health teaching in services and programs which have a broader focus. Often people do not want to be seen seeking advice about sex.
  • Remember the central role and responsibilities of the family and community in the lives of Aboriginal people.
  • Be aware of how residential school experiences of many years past may affect families and the community today — for both the people who went to the schools and their children and grandchildren.
  • Don’t expect things to change quickly. As in all community-based programs, it takes time to develop trusting relationships.
  • Make sure that community members, not people from outside, identify the need for sexual and reproductive health services. They should also decide what the priorities are and what to do about them.
  • Make sure you have a carefully planned and culturally appropriate approach approved by the community leadership before you begin to deliver sexual and reproductive health services.
  • If working with children or young people, let their families know about your school program, workshop, youth group or health service plans. Give parents, children and youth the opportunity not to take part if they wish.

What I really love about those tips is that learning becomes much more relevant. A lot of teachers will come into communities and begin teaching what they see as “important” but in many cases it comes from a white ethnocentric way of life or perspective. I think it allows us as teachers to step back and take a minute to let our “expertise” go and understand that our way of doing things may be quite different than others. The biggest part in my opinion will be seeing that and allowing yourself give up some of your “power”. This really encourages teachers to become involved and talk to the community about it’s needs and wants which in the end, will make learning so much more relevant and meaningful. At the end of the day,  that’s what we want learning to look like isn’t it?

Honestly there is SO much I love from this resource. Major trends that I have been noticing are: sex is a gift and should be treated as one, holistic health, interconnectness/harmony/balance/wellness- relevant to all, having meaningful conversations.

One activity from the resource (Part 2, Issues for Everyone: Unit 14, Two-Spirit People and Sexual Diversity) that may be interesting to do in a classroom is:

Homowork

The Positive Adolescent Sexuality Support Project in Winnipeg, Manitoba, developed this activity to increase awareness of two-spirit issues among group members. The activity is based on work by the Rainbow Society of Winnipeg. Participants choose “homowork” from the list below, do it for one week, then report back to the group. Note: participants need to choose these activities voluntarily and be aware that they may be exposed to homophobic comments and uncomfortable situations as a result. Safety is the first consideration.

  • Read a gay or lesbian book or pamphlet in public.
  • If you are heterosexual, keep your heterosexuality in the closet for one week.
  • Hold hands with someone of the same sex in public.
  • Challenge heterosexist jokes and comments.
  • Stand in front of the gay and lesbian section of a bookstore. Take note of how this makes you feel. Are you concerned about what other people think?

This would be a great starter to use looking at how we live in a homophobic world, looking at family structures, challenges faced by LGBTQI (stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex). How we can begin looking at our own biases and encourage an inclusive, accepting, tolerant and loving world. 

Another area where this resource does well is looking at Sexual Violence (Part 2, Unit 16). In curricula, looking at sexual violence is lacking.  I’m not sure if it’s not talked about because a) people don’t think it exists in their communities b) it’s too personal (or awkward to discuss) but we can see through stats that it does exist and in a lot of cases, goes unreported.  (This could go well with discussions of colonialism, misogyny). This portion also includes how to protect yourself from Sexual Assault.

Highly recommend! How will you use this resource?

-J

 

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2 thoughts on “Finding Our Way: A Sexual and Reproductive Health Sourcebook for Aboriginal Communities

  1. I love how the focus is less on information and more on changing how we relate to each other in the classroom (and therefore how we relate to knowledge). I also love the ways that some of the more challenging questions about sex in our society are woven throughout your discussion.

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