By Judy Bird

A conference in Regina is looking at HIV/AIDS from a traditional First Nations perspective.

Balancing the Wheel: Recognizing Ancient Medicine and Healing focuses on incorporating the traditional languages, ceremonies, teachings, dances, songs, drumming, arts and science into addressing the issue.

“We know that going back to the land, the ways, our teaching, ceremonies, are important solutions in addressing HIV/AIDS,” said Margaret Poitras, CEO of All Nations Hope Network, the organization putting on the conference.

“We’re focusing on bringing those back to the people, to share some of those teachings, to bring those to light so we can move forward and really help the people, not just put bandaids on but get to the root of the problem. We know that HIV is not the problem, it’s much deeper rooted issues that have moved (people) in that direction,” said Poitras.

Saskatchewan has seen a significant increase in new cases of HIV since 2003, and currently has the highest rates in Canada at twice the national average. New HIV cases are associated predominantly with injection drug use (75%) with First Nations and Métis women under age 30 accounting for a disproportionate number of those cases.

“As indigenous healers, we need to work with what already exists in the western world. We have our own science as indigenous people. We have the ability to do the healing, we’ve been given those gifts to do healing,” said Poitras.

The conference wraps up February 25.

 

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