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Features and Interviews

Apr26

In conversation with CPPN/RCPS’s Christian Hui

Tuesday, 26 April 2016 Written by // Philip J H Dawson Categories // Activism, Features and Interviews, Living with HIV, Philip J H Dawson, Opinion Pieces

Philip Dawson is showcasing members of the board of Canada's new national organization for people living with HIV. Here he talks to CPPN/RCPS Community Engagement Officer Christian Hui

In conversation with CPPN/RCPS’s Christian Hui

The Canadian Positive People Network (CPPN) / Reseau Canadien Des Personnes Seropositives (RCPS) is a new independent network for and by people living with HIV and HIV co-infections in Canada. We exist as a people’s network to represent the needs of all persons and communities affected by HIV and HIV co-infections. We help ensure the movement is coordinated nationally, provincially, regionally, and locally to benefit the affected people and communities, and that we are connected with the global HIV response. 

Christian Hui is charming, handsome and informal in manner, completely unassuming in his role as someone 'everyone' knows in the HIV community. It's a perfect character trait for being the Community Engagement Officer at CPPN/RCPS.

Meeting Christian is an experience which makes you feel humanized and grateful for the information known and shared by him. Receptive to the needs of people living with HIV, Christian empathizes with what is possible for all his peers. 

“I love being able to work with various communities and sectors, and to utilize community-based research to inform programs, interventions and policies that can better our community. We know in Canada that while most organizations support GIPA/MIPA, the implementation of GIPA/MIPA is not always easy. The complexities and challenges to implement GIPA/MIPA must not deter us from ensuring people living with HIV are meaningfully engaged within the entire HIV response. It is especially important that positive people are not engaged as tokens but as an absolute element in the areas of policy development and decisions around funding allocations, program and research design, advocacy, and evaluation of whether our needs as people living with HIV are met adequately” says Christian.

Philip Dawson: Christian, how are you feeling right now as you watch the blooming of CPPN? 

Christian Hui: I feel excited, grateful, hopeful, eager and am energized with great anticipation of what’s to come ahead for CPPN! 

I am excited because it has almost been a year since CPPN was formed, and while we still have much to do, we have made great strides to build the foundation of a national network for people living with HIV in Canada! I am grateful as I work with a great team of peers who are involved with CPPN — board members, community advisory group members, the various committee members, as well as organizational supporters and allies who have helped our network grow from the very start—for example, REACH2.0 for providing our network with a technical platform to connect with our members, and CWGHR for inviting us to collaborate with them for the HIV, Aging and Income Security Think Tank earlier this year, amongst others. 

I am hopeful that our network will continue to grow under the new federal government, especially since it's a government which welcomes advocacy and the voices of the community. I am energized with great anticipation of what is to come ahead for CPPN as we are in the midst of preparing for our first AGM, along with various exciting happenings taking place: the Youth HIV Disclosure Project that has been developing in collaboration with YouthCO; attending the UNAIDS Civil Society Hearing in April as an invited civil society organization to ensure the Canadian HIV movement is connected with the international response; and three CPPN members having been selected to attend the HIV is Not a Crime II Training Academy in Huntsville, Alabama in May and to bring back the knowledge to our Canadian peers. 

Ultimately, I feel CPPN is indeed blooming, and our time to shine as a national network for and by people living with HIV and HIV co-infections is yet to come!  

How do you plan to use your position of Community Engagement Officer to attract and encourage people living with HIV who are women, First Nations or new Canadians that together they have a bigger voice? 

There is no easy answer to answer such a complex question. Yet I believe that if CPPN can create a space where the voices of its members are heard and members can become meaningfully engaged, then our diverse membership will then have opportunities to work with one another and create a bigger voice for all Canadians living with HIV. 

As a network, we will certainly commit to working for equitable representation and engagement of priority populations such as women, youth, the Indigenous communities, ethnocultural communities, trans* persons, people who use substances, people who perform sex work, people who are/have been incarcerated, gay/bi and men who have sex with men. Accessibility and inclusitivity are issues which we take seriously and are trying to find ways to address, given our limited resources. 

One of CPPN’s primary aims is to create a space where all Canadians living with HIV can have their voices heard.  I feel relationship-building and meaningful engagement are the keys to working with the diverse groups and communities that make up those who are living with HIV in Canada. Ultimately, as a network of people living with HIV, our strength comes from having all our peers come together for a common cause: to put the people living with HIV in Canada back to the forefront of the HIV movement. 

Optimistic must be the favourite word at the moment. What will give CPPN the energy and legs to succeed and be the voice of people living with HIV in Canada? 

Having optimism definitely helps as a new network, yet I feel what gives CPPN the energy and legs to succeed and to become the voice of people living with HIV are the passion, lived experiences, and voices of our membership. 

While people living with HIV have always been a part of the movement, Canada is unique in a sense that we never had a national network of people living with HIV. CPPN has sparked and re-ignited the desires of many people living with HIV to once again pursue such a dream, and such energy is  felt and supported by many national and regional partners as well as AIDS service organizations across the country. 

As an organic movement in-the-making, CPPN needs the support of people living with HIV, the community and the sector to succeed. Having the support of the government will no doubt help as well, yet CPPN will need to wait and see if the new federal government will support us, and if so, how. 

What challenges are you looking forward to in the Community Engagement Officer position for CPPN/RCPS? 

The list includes sustaining the momentum the network has created; finding ways to better engage people living with HIV and the various communities across Canada as well as our membership given our very limited resources; building relationships with service organizations in the local, regional and national levels; and advocating on behalf of our membership the needs most relevant to Canadians living with HIV to the government and the HIV sector. 

If we're sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it's been for you in this role, what did we Canadians achieve together? 

We would be celebrating with all Canadians living with HIV and  HIV co-infections that a national positive people network has finally been created, and that a renewed movement for and by people living with HIV is taking place! 

About Christian: Christian is the Community Engagement Officer for CPPN/RCPS. This ties into his being both the Ontario and Canadian International Representative on the board of the Global Network of People with HIV, North America. Fully utilizing his Bachelor of Social Work from Ryerson University, Christian helped mobilize a group to craft the Canadian Declaration by Persons living with HIV at the International AIDS Society 2015 Conference on HIV, Pathogenesis, and Treatment as Prevention in Vancouver, BC. He is Vice Chair of the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, Community Member Representative on the Steering Committee and Diversity Working Group Co-Chair, Toronto HIV/AIDS Network, and Community Engagement Co-ordinator/Ontario Positive Asians (OPA+) Coordinator for Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS). Also, sitting on the Committee for Accessible AIDS Treatment CHAMP Study as Peer Facilitator for Legacy PHA Worker Training and the Ethno-racial Treatment Support Network Peer Counselling Training. 

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