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We know LGBTQ2S+ individuals use substances at higher rates than the general population. However, very little is known at a local level about the experiences of LGBTQ2S+ individuals who use substances and their access to relevant harm reduction tools, supports, and services. Funded by Alberta Health’s Opioid Awareness Grant, the EMHC, Fruit Loop, and the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society designed and delivered a survey aimed at filling these knowledge gaps.The survey was delivered using Google Forms and was promoted primarily via social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter). Responses were received from July 28, 2018 to September 2, 2018.

Respondent Inclusion Criteria:

In order to participate in the survey, respondents had to meet two criteria:

Respondents had to Identify as a sexual or gender minority; or report having had sex with a person of the same gender in the last twelve months.

Respondents had to reporting having used substances in the last twelve months (other than alcohol and marijuana).

Note: Participants were advised that substance use, for the purposes of this survey, did not include the use of prescription drugs, if they are being used as prescribed. However, use of prescription drugs without a prescription or more often/frequently than prescribed was considered substance use for the purposes of the survey.

Of the 206 people who started the survey, 135 respondents met the two inclusion criteria and completed the remainder of the survey.

Demographics:

Here is a snapshot of who completed the survey:

Location: Nearly all respondents lived in the Edmonton area (respondents provided the first three digits of their postal code)

Age: 40% were aged 18-24, 39% were aged 25-34, 13% were aged 35-44, ~8% were 45+

Gender: 43% Cisgender Male, 32% Cisgender Female, 16% Non-Binary, 8% Trans Male, 5% Trans Female [Note: individuals could select more than one option]

Sexual Orientation: 40% gay, 30% pansexual, 27% queer, 22% Bisexual, 9% Lesbian [Note: Individuals could select more than one option]

16% of respondents identified as a person with a disability

12% of respondents identified as First Nations, Metis, or Inuit

10% of respondents identified as belonging to a racialized group

Limitations:  

While the survey is a useful tool to better understand community substance use, there are some limitations. Some of these limitations include:

Convenience Sampling: By using social media networks of partners to recruit respondents, the survey sample was likely not representative of all Edmonton LGBTQ2S+ individuals who use substances.

Cross-Sectional: Cross-Sectional surveys measure the experiences of respondents in one place, at one time. These surveys cannot measure changes in a population over time.

Demographics: The audience was younger and more male than the broader Edmonton LGBTQ2S+ population likely is.

Significant Findings

Below you will find several infographics we’ve created to showcase findings of interest. Infographics are shareable and print copies are available upon request.

[Note: The “peernpeer.ca” url at the bottom of each infographic will be live as of June 3, 2019. However, both the email and phone number are live and accessible at the time of this posting.]

If you need to speak to someone about your substance use – whether you want to stop using substances, use substances more safely, or change how substances impact your sex life, contact the Peer N Peer team at connect@peernpeer.ca or 587-599-7290. We offer one-on-one counselling, screening and referrals services, and access to harm reduction supplies. All of our services are free-of-charge.

The Opioid Awareness project is made possible by Alberta Health. The Peer n Peer project is made possible by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The post Edmonton LGBTQ2S+ Substance Use Survey appeared first on Edmonton Men's Health Collective.

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Lyn

As part of our Opioid Awareness project, in partnership with Fruit Loop and the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society, the EMHC is speaking with community members about their substance use experiences. We recognize that everyone’s substance use experience looks different. Some people use substances in a way they feel comfortable with, which doesn’t negatively impact their health. For others, their experiences of substance use are more challenging. This short interview provides a glimpse into one person’s experience: Lyn.

[Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity]

Can you tell me a little about your substance use experience and how it’s related to your identity as a trans woman?

I was married before my problems with drinking really came to light. While I was married, I wasn’t out as trans yet. I was expressing myself – my identity – in private. Some called it cross-dressing. But to me it was deeper than that.

In my marriage, this part of my identity was hidden. I’m very close with my ex-wife now and she accepts me for who I am. But in the marriage, that’s not what she signed up for. I knew this going in to the marriage. But I thought I could suppress it. Like, “I know this isn’t really who I am. But I’m meant to get married. I’m meant to have kids.”

Living together, I couldn’t sneak off to express myself in private as much. So, that’s when the drinking really started to cause problems. I was supressing myself and using alcohol as a coping mechanism for not being able to be the true me. I had to drink a 60 (1.75L) every day to stay alive. Or at least, in my mind, that’s what I thought I had to do.

Can you tell me about some of the challenges you’ve experienced on your substance use journey and what led you to decide it was time for change? Did you hit “rock bottom” as some people might call it?

My alcohol and substance use has taken me to a lot of dark places. I’ve definitely lost a lot by going into high debt. I’m still coming to terms with that on a daily basis. It’s a struggle but I’m learning to accept that it’s something that I did. And all I can do now is move forward and try to fix it. As for my “rock bottom,” I wouldn’t say it was any one situation or event. It was more like a lot of things coming together at once; a bunch of horrible situations that were building up to a point where I knew I couldn’t live like this anymore.

When I came out as transgender, I knew I was an alcoholic. But I couldn’t admit it. It was nearly two years from the moment I came out as trans to the moment I became sober. It really started to hit home for me when I wanted to start hormones.

I went to go see an endocrinologist. And, you see, you can’t really hide anything in your blood from them. I’m not proud of it but I cheated on my blood tests so that I could get on hormones. I was lying to everyone in my life, including my gender psychologists, my team of doctors, and myself. I would say, “I don’t drink. Maybe just socially with friends.” But that wasn’t the case. I was drinking a 60 every day.

After I started my hormones, I started to have problems which were affecting me physically. I knew it was my drinking that was causing this. It was then that I realized that I needed to give up drinking alcohol. I tried to get sober on my own, unsuccessfully. So, I asked to be part of a private counselling group. It was after starting that group that I finally got sober.

Can you tell us a little about what that journey to being sober looked like for you?

After starting the group and speaking with a counsellor, I started making changes to my alcohol use. I didn’t quit “cold turkey.” After they realized how much I was drinking and using, they realized that I couldn’t just pull a 180 and stop drinking altogether. I had tried that before and it didn’t work. It just made me sick. So, they started me on a harm reduction program, aimed at helping me gradually reduce my alcohol use.

I went from drinking a 60 per day to drinking a 40 (1.18L). It was still a lot of alcohol but I was bringing it down slowly. I did 40 for about a week. Then it was payday, so I partied at home alone, because that’s what I would do. That brought me back to the beginning.

But I got back into it and started again with a 40 a day. Then I gradually made it down to a 26 (750ml) a day. It was then that I was like, “Yeah, I think I can do this.” By taking this harm reduction path, it helped me clear my mind long enough that I was able to realize that, for me, I needed to put myself into detox. From the day I went to Detox, July 5th, 2018, I haven’t had a single drink.

What’s life like for you now?

My life now is awesome. I feel like I have a purpose. I like to give back and help other people who need support related to their alcohol or substance use. I’m a sponsor. I run a support group. I volunteer with LGBTQ2S+ youth. I didn’t have any support from anyone like me growing up. If I had, maybe my life would have been different. If I, by being out as a trans woman and open about my own alcohol and substance use journey can help just one person, then it’s all worth it.

What would you like share with others reading this who might be considering similar changes in their own lives?

Be true to yourself. Love yourself. I still suffer from dysphoria and depression. Even though I’m doing better, it doesn’t necessarily go away. But I look for the positives in my life. I encourage everyone else to do that too and to practice self-love. If you don’t love yourself you can end up heading down a pretty dangerous path. And while others can help, no one else can do for you, what you can do for yourself. I believe in you. You can do it.

If you need to speak to someone about your substance use – whether you want to stop using substances, use substances more safely, or change how substances impact your sex life, contact the Peer N Peer team at connect@peernpeer.caor 587-599-7290. We offer one-on-one counselling, screening and referrals services, and access to harm reduction supplies. All of our services are free-of-charge.

The Opioid Awareness project is made possible by Alberta Health. The Peer n Peer project is made possible by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The post Lyn’s Experience appeared first on Edmonton Men's Health Collective.

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As part of our Opioid Awareness project, in partnership with Fruit Loop and the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society, the EMHC is speaking with community members about their substance use experiences. We recognize that everyone’s substance use experience looks different. Some people use substances in a way they feel comfortable with, which doesn’t negatively impact their health. For others, their experiences of substance use are more challenging. This short interview provides a glimpse into one person’s experience: Kane.

[Note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity]

Interviewer: Tell us a little about who you are. How would you describe your identity?

Kane: I am a gender-queer person. However, more recently, I’ve gained a better understanding of the term Two-Spirit. I never thought that I, as a Metis person, could identify as Two-Spirit. I didn’t really know much about it. But, as I learn more, I’ve come to realize that I do kind of identify that way.

But, right now, I don’t think I’m fully comfortable openly identifying as Two-Spirit yet because I don’t think I understand enough about my culture. Unfortunately, colonization and the eradication of our culture within my family has had a significant impact on this part of my identity. Some Métis families I know celebrate the culture and speak Indigenous languages but I don’t. But I’ve really been trying to understand and learn more about my culture.

Can you tell us a little about your own experiences of substance use?

I started using cocaine at 16. It wasn’t daily at the beginning – mainly because I couldn’t afford it. But then that led to trying out other drugs like MDMA and acid. Soon, it really just became my way of life. I know that some people can handle drug use without major problems but, for me, it really affected my schooling and my connection with family and friends.

When I turned 18, I decided to stop using drugs. I didn’t use for over two years. Then, I ended up in a relationship. We would go out and party a lot. We would have friends over who’d be using drugs and then we’d do some too. We started going to afterhours clubs, which would always lead to drugs for me. So, over time, I just started getting back into more frequent use. Over the past few months, I was using almost daily again.

When you’re using substances, what are some ways you keep yourself safe?

I know you’re probably looking for me to share some harm reduction strategies that I found useful when using. But, to be honest, when I used I didn’t ever really think about how I was or wasn’t being safe. It was just like, if it was there, I would do it. I was usually just too fucked up to even think about being safe.

And it wasn’t just my decision-making around harm reduction or safer drug use that was affected. It also affected my sex life too. When I’m high, I hook up with people I normally wouldn’t feel comfortable with or I end up in a situation where everyone is doing a bunch of drugs and people are having group sex – things that I wouldn’t be interested in if I was sober.

Sometimes, I would have unprotected sex because I just wouldn’t think about it. Or I would convince myself that it was okay because I trusted the person enough. Using substances during sex makes me want to do anything and be open to everything. I feel unstoppable. But, then, the next day, It’s awful. I’m physically exhausted but I just can’t sleep. I’m just left there with my thoughts, regretting the previous night. Like, “Why the fuck did I do that?”

Recently, you’ve begun to access some support from the EMHC’s Peer N Peer program. Would you mind sharing a little about what this support looks like and how it’s impacted you?

Sure. I started seeing a peer worker who’s been really open and available for me whenever I need them. In our sessions, we talk about a bunch of things, like drug use and sexual health. The sessions really help me identify the things in my life that I feel negative about and decide on a course of action to deal with them. It’s also really helped me open up about my substance use. Not just in our counselling sessions but in my day-to-day life. I’ve even had the opportunity to begin speaking about my substance use with my mom.

Since accessing the Peer N Peer program, I’ve stopped using drugs again. But it’s also reassuring to know that the program provides tools and supports that would help me stay healthier and safer if I did end up using again. For example, knowing that the program offers free harm reduction supplies and information about how to use substances more safely is empowering. It means that if I start using again, I don’t have to just think, “Well, fuck it,” like I did before – without thinking about my health. Instead, I know that there are tools and supports at my disposal to help me think smarter and safer about my use.

If you need to speak to someone about your substance use – whether you want to stop using substances, use substances more safely, or change how substances impact your sex life, contact the Peer N Peer team at connect@peernpeer.ca or 587-599-7290. We offer one-on-one counselling, screening and referrals services, and access to harm reduction supplies. All of our services are free-of-charge.

The Opioid Awareness project is made possible by Alberta Health. The Peer n Peer project is made possible by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The post Kane’s Experience appeared first on Edmonton Men's Health Collective.

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Mathew Wong, Streetworks

In 2018, as part of our Opioid Awareness project, run in partnership with Fruit Loop and Edmonton 2 Spirit Society, we sat down with one of our Community Naloxone Training partners, Mathew Wong of Streetworks, to discuss the current opioid crisis. Read on to learn more about Alberta’s opioid epidemic, what might be driving it, who it impacts, and how we can respond to it more effectively. [Note: This transcript has been lightly edited for length and clarity]

Interviewer: Can you describe what you do for Streetworks?

Mathew: My official title at Streetworks is the Team Lead of the Overdose Prevention Team. I am an RN by background and our team is dedicated to the huge goal of preventing and reducing overdose and eliminating death from overdose in the community we serve.

What services does Streetworks provide to the community?

Streetworks is Edmonton’s needle exchange program. We provide all the supplies one might need if they do drugs. In addition to needles, we provide things like tourniquets, alcohol wipes, and sterile water. We are just trying to keep people as healthy and safe as possible, no matter where they’re at in their life. Our funding is primarily related to HIV, so preventing HIV and Hepatitis C is a big part of our work. At a deeper level, though, we are trying to connect with people who might not have any other similar connections.

The opioid crisis has been recognized as a problem for years in Canada, and yet there are still many lives that continue to be taken by opioid overdoses. In fact, from 2016 to 2017, opioid-overdose deaths increased by approximately 40% in Alberta. Based on your experience working with Streetworks, why do you think this is?

That’s a tough one. If you were just to look at that on the surface it could be disheartening. We’re doing more. We have naloxone kits out there. But we see the numbers increasing. I think it speaks to the number of people we’re not reaching and the hiddenness of substance use. That, and the fact that if a person is going to start using opioids, right now would be one of the most dangerous times because you have a really potent opioid out there that comes in a variety of strengths. Even guys with super high tolerances are affected sometimes.

Speaking to the “hidden” factor that you mentioned, it’s not necessarily the stereotypical person one would think uses opioids. Are there any particular demographic groups that you see as being at higher risk and/or in need of help? What have you observed as some of the most prominent precipitating factors of opioids addiction?

It’s hard to pinpoint. Statistics show that some areas of our city are more affected than others. And race does factor in as well. But, really, it cuts across all walks of life, affecting people from a range of backgrounds, with a range of incomes. I would say the person who is mostly at risk is someone who doesn’t think they are at risk.

This can come in many forms. It could be the person who is straight out of treatment thinking, “I’ve dealt with my addiction and I’m never going to use again.” That person is at risk because the literature suggests that it’s during the first 30 days after detox that a person is about 37x more likely to overdose because they have a lower tolerance to opioids. Or maybe it’s a person in a suburb in Edmonton who thinks, “I don’t have a problem like thosepeople. I just use it recreationally”. But we know that they could be using drugs that were accidentally contaminated with fentanyl. Or maybe, while they typically wouldn’t use opioids, while high on something else, they might be inclined to try something that they don’t normally take. So, one of the best things you can do is instead of thinking about those people at risk, humbly accept that we’re all at risk.

Regarding the precipitating factors of opioid addiction, I think the common narrative is that there is a person who has an accident, they end up in a hospital, they are given prescription painkillers, and their tolerance builds up. Eventually, they get cut off. So, they end up on the street. That narrative is a pretty common one. But there are other ways people come about opioid addiction. An example one gentleman shared with me was the first time he used heroin. He was on a school bus and the person across from him just happened to be injecting and invited him to try it. He said, “I fell in love. In so many parts of my life I felt isolated and alone.” For him, injecting that heroin felt like love going through his veins. He finally felt warm; comfortable. That’s one example from the other side of the spectrum, demonstrating the variety of experiences which can lead to someone ending up with an opioid addiction.

What does current messaging of opioid use to the public look like to you? Does this messaging need to change, and if so, how?

Where we’re at is where we’re at with a lot of drug education. It’s very focused on the negative effects, and often exaggerates them. “Don’t use drugs. Don’t use fentanyl or you’ll die.” Well, first of all, this approach can hurt your credibility with people who use drugs. Many people have used drugs, including fentanyl, and haven’t died. So, if you use that messaging, they might find it manipulative or feel that you don’t know what you’re talking about, which might not make them want to engage with you. Also, when you start with the most extreme messaging – “don’t do drugs or you’ll die” – you cut off the conversation right there. You don’t open opportunities for conversations about harm reduction such as, “never use alone, do a tester, be careful after breaks from using.”

Now they have begun to shift some of the ads, which is a step in the right direction. What we want to do is to shift larger society’s view of the person who uses drugs. Instead of, “Don’t use drugs or don’t use fentanyl or you’ll die,” there is more messaging which communicates, “We care about you, we love you, carry naloxone with you, be safe out there.”  It shifts our view of people who use drugs: “You’re valuable even if you use drugs. You are valuable as a person who uses drugs. You are cared for and we love you.”

Once that messaging solidifies, people will feel more comfortable speaking about their drug use instead of experiencing isolation due to stigma. A group I’d give a shout out to is the Moms Stop the Harm group. It is a group of parents who’ve lost their kids to overdose or whose kids are currently using. They are very harm reduction focused. Instead of just focusing on trying to get kids to stop using drugs, they support various harm reduction initiatives and policy changes like decriminalization. They’re a group of parents who you’d never have guessed had kids who dealt with substance use issues; just everyday people from all sorts of backgrounds. From sharing their stories, more people have begun to share their stories as well. They’ve been very effective at breaking down stigma.

Mathew Wong, presenting at a Community Naloxone Training at the Buckingham in Summer 2018

Practically speaking, how effective is Naloxone at saving lives?

Naloxone can be very effective at preventing an overdose. Besides the scientific evidence, we’ve had lots of people come back to us and say, “I saved some guy’s life because I had a kit.” That said, in addition to being live-saving, Naloxone can also be empowering. In many situations, if you’re a person who uses drugs and buys it off the street, you don’t have a lot of control. You’re essentially at the whim of the drug dealer and supplier. Having access to a Naloxone kit is empowering because it’s like you’re in control of your own life. There have been positive stories in our work, wherein someone used a Naloxone kit and then actually changed their pattern of use significantly, or stopped using altogether.

What harm reduction strategies other than naloxone are effective in dealing with the opioid crisis?

An important shift is how we view substance use in general. In people’s minds, we think there are only two options when It comes to drugs: that you are either healthy and don’t use drugs or you are unhealthy and do use drugs. A big part of our harm reduction work is introducing a third option: keeping yourself as healthy as possible while still using. This includes practical things like nutrition, hydration, sleep, and other basic necessities. These are things you can still take care of while using drugs.

For example, some drugs take away a person’s appetite. Maybe you can’t keep a whole meal down. But maybe you can pound down an Ensure. That’s an easy practical thing you can do to keep yourself nourished. In other cases, some drugs can take away someone’s ability to sleep. So, even if someone can’t get a full night’s rest, we might encourage them to put their head down for half an hour at a drop-in if it’s safe. A few half hours can add up to a couple of hours, which is better than nothing.

What are some other harm reduction strategies that Edmonton has undertaken that are effective?

Is this a question directed toward supervised consumption sites [laughs]? While supervised consumption sites are a great thing, there are still some people in the community who are quite opposed to it. My general statement on it is that it’s a great thing to have. Already, we’re noticing that people who we might have seen using in corners, or alleys, or washrooms are now accessing services at these sites which is safer for them, as we always tell people never to use alone. We also see new people who didn’t access the needle exchange before who are accessing the safe consumption site. Over time, we’ve built a relationship with them and have been able to link them to other resources.

To anyone reading this who is struggling or who has a loved one who is struggling, what resources are available to them?

First, it’s important to have someone you can speak honestly with. Who you can share your good times and bad times with.  You never know when someone in your life just needs a listening ear or a helping hand.

Next, as a practical aspect, know that you can get Naloxone kits totally free. You can find participating pharmacies at drugsafe.ca. So, whether you go yourself or send someone on your behalf, just know that you can get it free, without hassle.

Finally, addiction treatment, and what success from addiction treatment looks like, comes in many different forms. We fail people when we only measure success in abstinence.  Telling someone that if they use after treatment they are a failure is not helpful. They’re already beating themselves up enough. The truth is, some people don’t like 12 step programs but then there are others who swear by it. Cultural programs, day programs, no treatment at all. There is no one set way to deal with substance use. So, it’s important to find options that work best for you or those you care about.

If you need to speak to someone about your substance use – whether you want to stop using substances, use substances more safely, or change how substances impact your sex life, contact the Peer N Peer team at connect@peernpeer.ca or 587-599-7290. We offer one-on-one counselling, screening and referrals services, and access to harm reduction supplies. All of our services are free-of-charge.

The Opioid Awareness project is made possible by Alberta Health. The Peer n Peer project is made possible by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The post Shifting the Conversation w/ Streetworks appeared first on Edmonton Men's Health Collective.

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Date of Posting: March 29, 2019

Application Deadline: April 5, 2019

Interviews Will Begin: April 8, 2019

Desired Start Date: Late April/Early May

Position Title: PrEP Community Knowledge Broker (PCKB)

Location: Edmonton (Downtown)

The EMHC has been at the forefront of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) advocacy and
education since it launched in 2015. This has included the delivery of two provincial surveys, the
creation of the first online resource for PrEP in Alberta (prepalberta.ca), as well various
seminars and presentations throughout Edmonton.

Following this work, in October 2018, Alberta Health made generic versions of the medication available at no cost to individuals at high risk of HIV acquisition when prescribed by designated healthcare professionals. Although this is a step forwards in preventing new HIV infections in populations who are at an elevated risk, there is still a lack of PrEP awareness and knowledge throughout Alberta.

Therefore, the EMHC is implementing a new initiative in collaboration with partner organizations across Alberta focusing on education and awareness. To support this project, we are hiring a PrEP Community Knowledge Broker (PCKB) who will be directly responsible for interfacing with stakeholders and developing/adapting core resources.

Key Responsibilities of the PCKB include:

  • Environmental scan of existing resources that have been instituted in Alberta, as well as other locations with public funding or broad access to PrEP.
  • Recruitment and establishment of advisory teams consisting of individuals belonging to populations disproportionately impacted by HIV. The PCKB will also be responsible for interviewing and consulting with stakeholders who serve these populations.
  • Creation and optimization of PrEP resources for both service-providers and community members; as well as the adaptation of these resources for various priority populations.
  • Delivery of educational workshops/webinars to service-providers throughout the province, and dissemination of online resources to community members.
  • The PCKB will assist the Project Manager in the evaluation of the program through the delivery of evaluation measurement tools and participate in the compilation of the project evaluation report.

Desired Qualifications

Education

  • Bachelor’s degree in health, clinical, or social sciences preferred.

Experience

  • 2-3 years’ experience coordinating community projects/programs/initiatives desired
  • Knowledge of and/or experience in the area of HIV/HCV/STBBIs is desired
  • Experience delivering workshops/seminars/presentations to community members
    and/or healthcare providers
  • Lived experience as a member of the priority population(s) this project will focus on is an asset (GBTQ2S+ Men [MSM], FNMI, ACB, Newcomers, Trans & Non-Binary Individuals, People who use substances)
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the PrEP access landscape in Alberta is required
  • Experience developing and delivering PrEP education resources is desired

Desired Competencies

  • Public Speaking & Facilitation: The successful candidate will be required to facilitate a series of education, training, and group-work sessions with community members and healthcare/service providers. Previous experience facilitating similar sessions will be an asset.
  • Web and Social Media: The project will include the design and delivery of online content through websites and social media. An understanding of producing and delivering content through different web and social media platforms is an asset.
  • Network & Relationship Building: The successful candidate will be required to establish and maintain relationships with key partners (academic, community-based organizations, etc.) both locally and provincially. Previous experience developing and
    maintaining relationships with a diverse network of stakeholders will be an asset.
  • Equity: Some sexual and gender minority individuals also experience additional intersecting identities which can result in increased experiences of stigma and discrimination. In turn, this can result in some individuals facing additional barriers to health and wellbeing, as well as barriers to participation in programs and services. The successful candidate should have a working knowledge of the concepts of equity, intersectionality, and anti-oppression and be able to apply them in a way that benefits the experience of all program participants. Demonstrated experience applying these principles will be an asset.

Compensation

  • $20,000+

Term

  • April 2019 – March 2020

Hours

  • 0.4 FTE/15 hours per week (Hours are flexible; some evening and weekend work required)
  • Overnight stays required for workshop delivery across Alberta (will be limited to a brief period of the contract)

How to Apply

  • Applicants should send both a cover letter and resume to contact@yegmenshealth.ca. The
    cover letter should clearly articulate the applicant’s suitability for/interest in the role, with
    specific attention to:
  • How the candidate has demonstrated some of the desired competencies in their current
    or previous roles
  • How the candidate’s combination of work, education, volunteer history, and lived
    experience meet the qualifications as set out and
  • Their relationship to/experience working with the priority populations (GBTQ2S+ Men
    [MSM], FNMI, ACB, Newcomers, Trans & Non-Binary Individuals, People who use
    substances)
  • Why they want to work for the EMHC/do this type of work
  • Applications can be addressed to the EMHC Hiring Committee. Applications will be reviewed on
    following the application deadline of April 5th .
  • Interviews will begin the week of April 8th, with a start date in late April/early May desired.
  • Any questions or concerns should be sent to contact@yegmenshealth.ca.

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Are you interested in getting involved? Meeting other like minded queer folks? Learning and developing the skills to make queer programming from start to finish here in Edmonton? Then we’ve got the program for you!

Totally Outright is a course that focuses on program design and implementation. Taking you through all the steps needed to successfully launch your queer/trans initiative and keep it sustainable.

Here are some of the rad projects our former participants are currently involved with:

  • The Gay Agenda: efforts in collaboration with different groups to centralize information on LGBTQ2S+ resources in the city in a more accessible way
  • Queer Fitness: initiative in collaboration with Queerflex to bring about queer and trans accessible fitness options in Edmonton

Participants from Totally Outright 2018

You may have heard of T.O. in the past, and that’s because it’s out fourth year here in Edmonton! We will be changing our structure a bit, and are now part of the larger H.E.L.P: A Health Empowerment Leadership Program. This larger weekend, happening March 23 and 24, will teach participants some health foundation skills, before participants move into different streams of action in follow up weekends: Totally Outright, Pivot, or Investigaytors.

With this new structure, we also have some great new changes. This year, we are specifically focusing on the skills you would need to develop programs or services focused on community. The idea is that you’ll leave Totally Outright ready and able to develop your own rad program for the community you love working with!

This is Brandon Lansall, he is our fabulous Trainee working with us for Totally Outright

Why is this program important:

Brandon: This program was my first  major introduction to the community here in Edmonton. It offered me the chance to get involved in community work, and learn more about our community. Totally Outright provided me with a network of community members and agencies

Thomas: Totally Outright was the first thing I did after moving to Edmonton. It gave me the skills to get more involved with community, local organizations, and mostly it helped me meet some amazing friends. It really was the first step for me to get involved here in Edmonton and start working in the field of queer health

This is Thomas Trombetta! Thomas is coordinating Totally Outright this year with Brandon. Photo by Liam Mackenzie

We asked some of our previous Totally Outright participants about what they liked about the program, here is what they had to say!

Bradley: The collaborative efforts and impact we were making on the community. It was nice to be a part of something that’s actually trying to create a positive change among queer men

Eman: Working with other queers towards a common goal, planning the TO project, collaborating with other organizations

Did your training in Totally Outright prepare you well in working on your community project?  

Brandon: Absolutely! T.O taught me capacity building and accountability to the community. This really helped guide us in our action projects.

Bradley: Yes! T.O. provided me with so much knowledge on queer men’s health that helped direct our community project’s actions and motivations where needed most. The knowledge gained helped us determine an area that needed improvement (queer men’s social health), and we used that knowledge to determine our course of action.

What are some useful things that future TO participants should know before starting their community project?

Thomas: This is your chance to really get creative! Think about something you always wanted to see come to reality but you never really had a chance to implement

Bradley: Really take a look around your local community to see what’s missing. There are certain problems that all queer men face, but by identifying what impacts those immediately around you first you can work on solutions that hit home

Any last words to those who are thinking about signing up?

Bradley: Have fun doing it! T.O. is a great opportunity to meet other queer men and learn more about your community!

Brandon: Totally Outright has the potential to really help you grow as a person, to meet new like minded queer folks, and really get engaged in community and community work!

Again, we will first meet with all of the three streams at the Health Empowerment Leadership Program for a health foundation weekend, and again on the follow up weekend of March 30, 31st. On the second weekend, we will be meeting specifically as the Totally Outright stream.

So, if you are passionate about community organizing and programming focusing on program design and delivery, join us at Totally Outright by clicking on the link below! We can’t wait to meet you.

If you have any questions, please email thomas.t@hivedmonton.com or brandon.lansall@gmail.com

The post Totally Outright! A Health Empowerment Leadership Program appeared first on Edmonton Men's Health Collective.

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Calling all gay nerds and curious queers alike! The EMHC is launching “The Investigaytors” this Spring, a data-driven journey into the basics of community-based research. This 6-month program is designed to teach you all about queer men’s health and give you hands-on research experience – enabling you to answer those burning questions in your heart and become actively-involved researchers in Edmonton’s queer community.

Are you curious about the experiences of other gay, bi, queer and trans guys in your city? Frustrated by the current state-of-affairs in queer men’s health? Are you super passionate about issues in queer health and want to find out more? Come “investigayte”! You’ll get the opportunity to meet other like-minded queer folk and work towards conducting your own original research using quantitative methods. No expensive degree or fancy experience required. Oh and we feed you tasty treats at every meeting!

While this one-of-a-kind program may be new to Edmonton, it’s been operating in Vancouver since 2011 and Toronto since 20 16. In order to shed some light on the Investigaytors and answer any questions you may have, we are joined by Jeffrey Morgan, long-time Investigaytor and current program coordinator for the Vancouver squad. Hi Jeff!

The Investigaytors started in Vancouver back in 2011 and you have been a big part of its success. Can you tell me when and how you first became involved in the Investigaytors program?

I joined the Investigaytors as a participant back in 2014. I found out about the program through the Health Initiative for Men (HIM), where I was volunteering as a receptionist. I later ended up attending the Gay Men’s Health Summit and was introduced to Olivier Ferlatte, who was doing some really interesting work around the topic of intersectionality. At the time he was coordinating the Investigaytors program. He got me to come to a session and I loved it immediately! It definitely felt like I was connecting with like-minded folks, so I kept attending. Olivier left in 2016 and I have been coordinating the program ever since.

One of the major priorities of the Investigaytors program is to create a safe, inclusive and non-sexualized space for queer and trans men to connect. In what ways has the program helped you connect with your community in Vancouver?

Well, when we ask our program participants why they join, time and time again, we get the response of “we just really love the community” and that it’s fun, which I believe is an essential part of the program. It’s a really fun space to connect. I feel like we’ve done a good job creating that sense of community here in Vancouver. I’ve seen first-hand how a lot of the guys, who started out not knowing each other at all, have quickly become great friends.

I think that comes from the fact that we meet pretty much every week for 2 hours, which is a lot of face-to-face time with folks. It’s a great opportunity to connect with other queer people outside of the bar or the club. There’s no expectation other than to have fun and to engage in topics and issues that are important to us. It does feel like a really safe space. The Investigaytors has helped to create that sense of community for me. Seeing the same people week after week has been really special.

The purpose of the Investigaytors is to learn and conduct research in order to shed light on some of the strengths, challenges and diversities of gay and masculine-identifying folks. Can you tell me a bit about community-based research and queer health?

So, community-based research is a big term. I think some people confuse it with a set of methodologies. It’s not really a method to apply but, instead, it’s more like a theoretical framework. For me, community-based research is all about power, weirdly enough. It’s about subverting the power dynamic between researchers and participants, between academia and community. It’s about getting power into the hands of communities to allow us to explore topics that are of importance to us.

Part of that is building capacity among community members to allow us to think about these issues and research questions. I think, in queer men’s health, community-based research is particularly important because of the history of research done in our communities, which has often been exploitative. Instead of research that was done with us, it was research that was done on us. There’s a long and rich history of social advocacy and community involvement here. Essentially, community-based research is about bringing the power back to the community and letting us ask the questions that are meaningful and important to us.

Garrett Gooch, Edmonton Investigaytors Coordinator

The Investigaytors is designed to be a 6-month program that instills participants with the knowledge and skills needed to be critically-thinking and actively involved researchers. Is it necessary to have an academic or research background to join and benefit from the program? What makes this program for everybody?

It is definitely not required to have any form of research experience whatsoever. In the program here in Vancouver, we have folks from all over the spectrum and from all different backgrounds. We have folks who are not in school or just beginning school, as well as those who are in grad school and those completing a PhD. It’s really nice to have a little bit of a mix, but definitely not required to have any prior experience. The whole point of the program is to build research capacity. Being able to have a perspective that is a little removed from academic research training has value and it’s important. It makes us all think about things in a different way. Having people come to the Investigaytors with different backgrounds, training and perspectives is a huge strength of the program. What makes the program for everybody is that we shape the program. You don’t have to fit into program, the program has to fit to you. It’s about the community members deciding what they wanna learn. As long as you have an appetite for research and critical thinking, the program can be whatever you want it to be.

Probably the coolest thing about the Investigaytors is the focus on producing original research on topics within gay/queer men’s health that the group is interested in. With access to the data from 2018’s Sex Now survey, are there any areas or topics that you are particularly eager to dig into?

Yeah! When I was a participant I did my analysis on PrEP – PrEP awareness, interest in prep as well as the ability to pay for it. Taking sort of an equity lens on that, we looked at how the cost of prep may actually perpetuate health inequities among queer guys. So, it will be interesting to see an update on how that has changed since issues around access and coverage have changed. When the 2014 Sex Now survey was launched PrEP wasn’t even approved in Canada, so that will be huge.

But another thing I am interested in is asset-based analysis. Instead of looking at how queer men are doing poorly compared to our heterosexual counterparts, it will be interesting to see what we are doing well at and areas where we are resilient. For instance, looking at how we have created community in the face of marginalization and stigma. I’m really excited to see what that looks like. There’s so much to “investigayte”! It’s overwhelming and exciting.

There is somebody reading this right now who is interested in Edmonton’s Investigaytors program yet hesitant on clicking the registration form below. What would you tell them? How would you convince them to join?

I would tell them to run to that registration page! Click that shit!! I say this because, if anything, the Investigaytors is a good time. We have fun. We socialize. If you’re interested in research or if you’re a critical thinker then you will be welcome here. It’s a great opportunity to get to know folks who you might not otherwise meet. It’s such a refreshing evening, being able to meet once a week and discuss topics and issues that are important to us, whatever that may be. It’s just so fun to engage with these topics outside of an academic setting. It doesn’t feel academic at all. We’re eating pizza, we’re sitting in a circle, we’ve got the arts and crafts out. It’s really cool to be creating and producing knowledge. Being able to participate in that research process every step of the way is amazing. It also looks great on a resume and you get to meet some cool researchers!

Finn St. Dennis, Edmonton Investigaytors Community Trainee

There you have it Edmonton! If you were tickled by any of the above then proceed to the registration page and tell us who you are. The first component of the Investigaytors is the Health Empowerment Leadership Program (H.E.L.P.) initiative weekend, which will take place March 23rd and 24th. While there, you can learn more about the Investigaytors and other EMHC community health leadership programs, Totally Outright and Pivot. Beginning in April, the Investigaytors will meet once per week over the course of a 6-month period, culminating in participants developing and executing their own self-directed research projects (supported by program funding). So, if you’re interested, click on the link below to sign up. And remember, this program is open to anyone with an interest in being involved in queer health research. No previous research experience is needed! See you later, “gaytor”!

The post Investigaytors! A Health Empowerment Leadership Program appeared first on Edmonton Men's Health Collective.

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The Edmonton Men’s Health Collective Society (EMHC) is launching a new Community Response-Driven Accessibility Project focused on engaging diverse groups of the GBTQ2S+ community to explore what accessibility looks like to different segments of our community. It is EMHC’s goal for GBTQ2S+ men and masculine identifying folks to feel they are able to engage with the EMHC’s education, programming, and services in a safe, inclusive, and meaningful way regardless of the additional intersecting marginalizations they might experience.

Date of posting: Jan. 30

Interviews will begin: Feb 11

Anticipated start date: March 1

Project Title: Belonging: Community Driven Responses to Enhance Accessibility

Position Title: Accessibility Coordinator

Position Location: Edmonton & area

Compensation: $25/hr for a total of up to 50 hours

Term: March 2019 – September 2019                                                                                                                                                                                     

About the EMHC:

The EMHC is a grassroots health organization run by and for gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and two-spirit (GBTQ2S+) men and masculine identifying folk. The EMHC’s vision is for all GBTQ2S+ men to have equitable opportunity to experience positive health and well-being. We achieve this through community education, capacity-building, and support; provider training; and community-based research.

About the project:

Since its inception, the EMHC has been engaged in ongoing, critical reflection regarding how it can be
more accessible to and representative of GBTQ2S+ individuals and communities who experience multiple intersecting identities This may create barriers for engagement with the EMHC’s education, programming, and services due to the impact of intersecting forms of stigma and oppression, such as cis-sexism, heterosexism, racism (specifically anti-indigenous and anti-black racism), ableism, and xenophobia.

The EMHC will strive to achieve this through:

  1. Implementing a series of consultation groups to explore what accessibility looks like to different segments of our community;
  2. Define accessibility in a tangible way through the development of a robust accessibility policy and action plan;
  3. And implement accessibility enhancements which break down barriers, enhance overall accessibility to services and programs, and create a sense of belonging.

Some specific groups which have been identified through discussions at this time include GBTQ2S+ individuals who also identify as:

  • indigenous and/or two spirit;
  • people with disabilities;
  • LGBTQ newcomers;
  • people belonging to racialized communities;
  • trans and non-binary


The Role of the Accessibility Coordinator:

The Accessibility Coordinator will also facilitate the creation and engagement of a GBTQ2S+ advisory group. This advisory group will be comprised of key people belonging to the initial consultations. The advisory group will help determine the direction of an accessibility policy and action plan through ongoing consultation.

Together, the EMHC, the Accessibility Coordinator, and the advisory team will review the input from consultation groups and collaboratively develop:

  • An accessibility policy which will set out clear, actionable, and binding requirements for the EMHC’s educational resources, programming, and services, to ensure that they are accessible for all members of the communities the EMHC serves;
  • An accessibility action plan that includes tangible, time-bound actions the EMHC can take to enhance its accessibility for the communities it serves, thus enhancing their sense of belonging – as defined by members and leaders within those communities.

Key Responsibilities and Deliverables  include:

  • Attending and assisting in organizing community consultation meetings
  • Note-taking and Summary Development from community consultation meetings
  • Note-taking & Summary Development from advisory team meetings
  • Developing the First Draft of the Accessibility Policy and  Action Plan
  • Development of Second Draft of Accessibility Policy and Action Plan
  • Development of Final Draft of Accessibility Policy and Action Plan
  • Attend a series of internal EMHC meetings as determined

Reporting

The Accessibility Coordinator will report to the EMHC Project Manager and may be given the opportunity to present the above deliverables in Team or Board Meetings.

Qualifications

Education:
Some post-secondary level education in a related field required,

Training in research dissemination  and / or policy writing is an asset.

Experience:
Lived experience as a member of additional intersecting identities to GBTQ2S is welcomed.

*such as (but not limited to): GBTQ2S people who are indigenous, racialized, living with disabilities/disabled, trans, non-binary, gender diverse, or newcomers

Experience providing research and facilitation in qualitative methods (i.e. interviewing, focus groups, etc.) is considered an asset.

Paid, volunteer, or training experience in the fields of GBTQ2S+ men’s health, accessibility and inclusion, intersectional advocacy, and anti-oppression is desired.

Desired Competencies:

Community Engagement: The Accessibility Coordinator will be required to engage meaningfully with a diverse range of community members. Demonstrated experience effectively engaging individuals in a variety of settings, with tangible results (responsibly representing different perspectives in the project deliverables) is an asset.

Network & Relationship Building: The successful candidate will be required to establish and maintain relationships with key partners. Previous experience developing and maintaining relationships with a diverse network of stakeholders will be an asset.

Time Management: The successful candidate will enjoy a flexible work schedule. However, they must be able to manage their time so that they are able to meet an ambitious schedule of deliverables. Demonstrated ability to execute responsibilities on a tight timeline in flexible work environments with minimal supervision is an asset.

Conflict Resolution: We are all human. And where there are humans, there will be conflict. At some point throughout the program, conflict will emerge. The successful candidate should identify opportunities for conflict and address them before they emerge. When conflict does emerge, the successful candidate must demonstrate the ability to address it in an effective and sensitive matter so that all parties feel supported and are able to move forward in relationship with one another.

Equity: Some sexual and gender minority individuals also experience additional intersecting identities which can result in increased experiences of stigma and discrimination. In turn, this can result in some individuals facing additional barriers to health and wellbeing, as well as barriers to participation in programs and services. The successful candidate should have a working knowledge of the concepts of equity, intersectionality, and anti-oppression and be able to apply them in a way that benefits the experience of all program participants. Demonstrated experience applying these principles will be an asset.

Compensation:
$25/hr for a total of up to 50 hours

Term:
March 2019 – September 2019

(Timeline may be subject to change as needed)

Anticipated start date: March 1


Hours:

This project has a total amount of 50 hours. Hours are flexible as this project is more based on the deliverable. The Accessibility Coordinator and the EMHC will agree on a timeline upon hiring. 

Hours are flexible; some evening and weekend work required

Some months will require more time than others. Largest concentration of hours will be dedicated to research summation and policy writing (between June and September).


How To Apply:

Thank you for your interest in working with us.

Applicants should send both a cover letter and resume to contact@yegmenshealth.ca. The cover letter should clearly articulate the applicant’s suitability for/interest in the role, with specific attention to:

  • How the candidate has demonstrated some of the desired competencies in their current or previous roles
  • How the candidate’s combination of work, education, volunteer history, and lived experience meet the qualifications as set out and
  • Their relationship to/experience working with the priority population(s) (GBTQ2S+ individuals and other intersecting identities)
  • Why they want to work for the EMHC/do this type of work

Applications can be addressed to the EMHC Hiring Committee. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning February 11 but will continue to be accepted until the successful candidate is found.

Interviews will begin the week of February 11, with an anticipated start date of March 1.

The post Hiring – Accessibility Coordinator (Part-Time) appeared first on Edmonton Men's Health Collective.

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The EMHC is launching a new Harm Reduction project focused on GBTQ2S+ community members who use substances. To support this project, the EMHC is hiring two part-time Peer Outreach Workers. As individuals with lived experience of substance use, Peer Outreach Workers are an integral part of the team and ensure that community members are able to access support and services from individuals who have firsthand knowledge and understanding of the issues they face.

Key Responsibilities Include

Supporting the Program Coordinator in the recruitment for and coordination of a Community Advisory Team of GBTQ2S+ men with lived experience of substance use. Peer Outreach Workers will support the Program Coordinator at meetings as required (facilitation, note-taking, etc.). Peer Outreach Workers will also provide support to Community Advisory Team members as needed.

Peer Outreach Workers are responsible for the collection and storage of evaluation data as directed.

Peer Outreach Workers will support the Program Coordinator in the implementation of project activities as required, including: online screening, referral, and support; motivational interviewing counselling; and a series of outreach activities including online outreach, facilitating community education sessions, and distributing harm reduction supplies.

Peer Outreach Workers will support the Program Coordinator in the development and delivery of community education and stakeholder capacity-building content, as well as KTE materials.

Qualifications

Education

No education is required.

Diploma or training in Social Work, Addictions Counselling, or similar field is an asset.

Experience

Lived experience as a member of the priority populations (GBTQ2S+ individuals and people who use substances) is desired.

Experience providing frontline support/services (i.e. counselling, system navigation) to peers is desired.

Paid or volunteer experience in the fields of GBTQ2S+ Men’s Health, HIV/HCV/STBBIs, and/or substance use/harm reduction desired.

Desired Competencies

Public Speaking: The successful candidate will support the delivery of education, training, and group-work sessions with community members and healthcare/service providers. Experience in public speaking is an asset.

Community Engagement: Peer Support Workers will be required to engage meaningfully with a diverse range of community members in a variety of settings (at large community events, one-on-one by appointment, and online). Demonstrated experience effectively engaging individuals in a variety of settings, with tangible results (linking to services/care/programming) is an asset.

Web and Social Media: The project will include the design and delivery of online content through websites and social media. An understanding of producing and delivering content through different web and social media platforms is an asset.

Network & Relationship Building: The successful candidate will be required to establish and maintain relationships with key partners (academic, community-based organizations, etc.). Previous experience developing and maintaining relationships with a diverse network of stakeholders will be an asset.

Time Management: The successful candidate will enjoy a flexible work schedule. However, they must be able to manage their time so that they are able to meet an ambitious schedule of deliverables. Demonstrated ability to execute responsibilities on a tight timeline in flexible work environments with minimal supervision is an asset.

Conflict Resolution: We are all human. And where there are humans, there will be conflict. At some point throughout the program, conflict will emerge. The successful candidate should identify opportunities for conflict and address them before they emerge. When conflict does emerge, the successful candidate must demonstrate the ability to address it in an effective and sensitive matter so that all parties feel supported and are able to move forward in relationship with one another.

Equity: Some sexual and gender minority individuals also experience additional intersecting identities which can result in increased experiences of stigma and discrimination. In turn, this can result in some individuals facing additional barriers to health and wellbeing, as well as barriers to participation in programs and services. The successful candidate should have a working knowledge of the concepts of equity, intersectionality, and anti-oppression and be able to apply them in a way that benefits the experience of all program participants. Demonstrated experience applying these principles will be an asset.

Compensation

$25/hr

Term

February 2019-December 2020

Hours

Avg. of 7 hours/week; hours are flexible; some evening and weekend work required

How To Apply

Applicants should send both a cover letter and resume to contact@yegmenshealth.ca. The cover letter should clearly articulate the applicant’s suitability for/interest in the role, with specific attention to:

How the candidate has demonstrated some of the desired competencies in their current or previous roles

How the candidate’s combination of work, education, volunteer history, and lived experience meet the qualifications as set out and

Their relationship to/experience working with the priority population(s) (GBTQ2S+ individuals and people who use substances)

Why they want to work for the EMHC/do this type of work

Applications can be addressed to the EMHC Hiring Committee. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning January 10th but will continue to be accepted until the successful candidate is found.

Interviews will begin the week of January 14th, with an anticipated start date of February 4th.

Any questions or concerns should be sent to contact@yegmenshealth.ca.

The post Harm Reduction Peer Outreach Workers appeared first on Edmonton Men's Health Collective.

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