Atohtitam – Becoming of Age: Inspiring healthy sexuality and wellness through “Identity Healing” to prevent, reduce and eliminate HIV/HCV/STBBI inequities among Indigenous youth in Saskatchewan

The project is led by Dr. Amanda Froelich Chow and will be conducted over a four year span with a team of researchers at the Waniska Indigenous Centre for HIV/HCV/STBBI inequities with a goal of developing a culturally safe and inclusive program to support Indigenous youth in Saskatchewan in their cultural and gender identities, as well as supporting self-care / harm reduction in disease transmission and improving sexual health.

Colonization and Western understandings have skewed sexual health education, resulting in Indigenous youth being disproportionately represented in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI) diagnoses. Thus, there is an urgent need to develop culturally rooted approaches to promote sexual health and overall wellness among Indigenous youth.

Atohtitam has five objectives:

  • identify gaps in existing programs,
  • explore how youth access services and programs,
  • identify the impact of colonization in relation to the health and wellness of Indigenous youth in Saskatchewan,
  • collaborate with a community guiding circle and project partners to implement and evaluate land-based programming,
  • and expand the programming available in the province.

The project will be rolled out in three phases, including sharing circles and conversations, the implementation and evaluation of programming and a wellness assessment, which will cover the five objectives of the project.