Indigenous Solidarity Statement

The AIDS Bereavement and Resiliency Program of Ontario serves the HIV and Harm Reduction sectors throughout Ontario. This immense area of unceded land is the traditional and current territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Wendat, Inuit, Cree, and Métis. It is also home to other Indigenous people from across Turtle Island as well. We acknowledge the Dish with One Spoon Treaty (where ABRPO’s office is located), which embodies the practices of hospitality, sharing, and mutual respect. We seek to place these values in the centre of our circle of community.

As part of our dedication to fostering resilient individuals and communities, we strive to centre our practices in the treaty rights, sovereignty, and leadership of Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge the many ways settler colonialism and white supremacy have led to the theft of land, displacement of Indigenous peoples across this land, suppression and erasure of traditions and cultures, and numerous deaths, all resulting in collective trauma and grief. This is especially true of the impact of residential schools, where many children didn’t return home. Their mass graves are finally being found, and we support the search of all residential institutions to bring home all the children. Genocide has produced personal and cultural grief not shared by the majority of Canadians, many of whom are still reluctant to acknowledge the truth and magnitude of this genocide.

Some of the tools and practices of ABRPO reflect an Indigenous world view, such as a holistic perspective and using sharing circles as a way to process both loss and resilience. We are deeply honoured and grateful that these teachings have been shared with us by the Elders who have worked with us throughout the history of our organization. We are committed to continuing to seek ways to work with Indigenous communities to examine our grief care tools to make sure they are culturally relevant and safe.

While HIV has become manageable in many communities across the country, it remains an issue of deep concern in Indigenous communities. For Indigenous people who are HIV+, medical racism leads to lack of access to safe treatment, especially in Northern communities where people have to travel great distance to access treatment and support, and increases the health risks and complications of the virus. It disproportionately leads to increased mortality in Indigenous people living with HIV.

  • We commit to examining our grief tools and practices to support with making space for Indigenous grief within our organization.
  • We commit to building meaningful partnerships and working with Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Carriers to unsettle our organization.
  • We commit to continuing our learning about Indigenous history and Canada’s ongoing legacy of colonization and genocide to inform our understanding the grief care needs of Indigenous peoples on this land.

To survivors of residential institutions and their families impacted by intergenerational trauma, to Indigenous People living with HIV/AIDS (IPHAs), and to all Indigenous Directors, Managers, Workers and Peers in the HIV and Harm Reduction sectors, we honour your grief. We will be accountable to these words. We are in solidarity with you.