Drawing on experiences of a diverse group of islanders who supported each other through the worst days of the AIDS pandemic and evolved with the changing realities of living with HIV, the premise of Stamina Not Stigma is to affirm wellness strategies, spotlight the role of peers as community health navigators & educators, and show how these approaches can empower and improve health outcomes for folk facing various health and well-being challenges.
Facilitating a series of events and engaging in important conversations over the coming months, the Stamina Not Stigma team will invite a dynamic range of individuals, health care professionals, organizational leaders, community elders, and academics to gather and share knowledge and resources.
Specific event themes will focus on groups who identify as: BIPOC, Youth, Women & non-binary, and GBT2SQIA+ Men in and around the Southern Gulf Islands region. Representatives from each of these groups will help plan and co-facilitate Stamina Not Stigma events.
Information covered over the series of events will be shared in a wrap-up presentation for regional health care providers, demonstrating the benefits and challenges that peer-based approaches can have. In many respects, Stamina Not Stigma is a project over a quarter century in the making. In 1995, two HIV+ women and a gay HIV+ man joined together to form GIGI, the Gulf Islands Guerrilla Immunologists. Their story evolved into the Southern Gulf Islands AIDS Society (SGIAS), the smallest service organization of its kind in Canada, demonstrating an effective model on how to organize around diverse communities and complex health needs during a pandemic.