Kelowna’s mayor has proclaimed Dec. 1 World AIDS Day in the city, and the week of Dec. 1 to Dec. 7 Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week.
Colin Basran made the proclamation at city hall Wednesday with representatives of Kelowna’s Living Positive Resource Centre, REL8 Okanagan— a peer based service organization for people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations who are living with HIV—and the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society.
“World AIDS Day, which is also the launch of Aboriginal AIDS Awareness week in Canada, is a time for communities around the world to come together and acknowledge the progress that has been made in the fight against stigma, discrimination and criminalization as well as to honor those we have lost along the way,” said Candice Berry, executive director of the Living Positive Resource Centre.
The centre and REL8 Okanagan will commemorate World AIDS Day and Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week with a free public event called WORDS & AIDS.
Described as an opportunity for the community to read and share words to reflect on the impacts of HIV/AIDS and honor those who have died, the event will celebrate the accomplishments of the community and support those who are currently living with HIV/AIDS, say organizers. It will also help build general awareness for World AIDS Day and Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week locally. The evening will start with a ceremony and then continue with readings of stories, poems, songs, prose, fiction and “truth-telling.”
The event will take place Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Kelowna Art Gallery from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Donations collected at the event will be used to fund support those living with HIV/AIDS.
Readers will include Michael V. Smith, Sheila Kerr, Mitch Hunter and Nagata Prescott.
Andrew Ehman, chairman of REL8 Okanagan said more than 39 million people have died from AIDS.
“They represent all cultures, ethnicity and creeds – AIDS does not discriminate,” he said. “(On World AIDS Day) we also stand together to recommit to our goal of normalizing life for all people living with HIV through Peer support and positive, collective action.”
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