Yúusnewas means 'taking care of each other'

Yúusnewas is an Indigenous peer-led education program that provides workshops on HIV and sexual health in urban and rural communities across British Columbia. We approach the topics of sexual health and harm reduction by centering Indigenous perspectives and incorporating traditional teachings. Our office is on the unceded and ancestral territory of teh Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people.

Who is Our Program For?

Our program is aimed to support Indigenous youth between the ages of 14-29 in what is now known as British Columbia. We welcome Indigenous youth of all genders, sexual orientations, and abilities to participate in our programming. We aim to create a safer space* for all our participants, therefore discrimination of any kind (i.e. gendered discrimination, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism, fatphobia, lateral violence, terf (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and swerf (sex worker exclusionary radical feminist) ideologies, etc.) is not accepted in our space.

Workshops

Yúusnewas has the privilege of being able to provide culturally responsive sexual health and harm reduction education at no cost to Indigenous communities, whether rural, remote, or urban! This program is possible with the support for funding from the First Nations Health Authority and the Public Health Agency of Canada. We provide workshops and programming for schools, youth centers and clinics, and/or organizations that prioritize and support Indigenous youth. Our workshops and programs are flexible and designed to meet youth where they are at. All of our workshops are led by Indigenous youth, and are culturally responsive, fun and free! When we travel outside Vancouver, we work with each community we visit to put together 2-5 days of programming of interest! With enough advance notice, Yúusnewas can work with communities to customize our programming in ways that best reflects local needs and local teachings. If you'd like to book a workshop, fill out this short form or email us at yuusnewas@youthco.org

Our workshop topics include:

HIV 101 challenges HIV stigma, and covers HIV basics: facts, myths, how HIV is and is not passed, what we can do to reduce the impact of HIV in our communities, testing, and safer sex.

Sexual Well-Being (SWB) is a discussion and activity-based workshop about personal decision making, consent, healthy relationships, assertive communication, and safer sex.

Taking Care of Communities, Taking Care of Ourselves is a workshop we've designed to engage Indigenous youth to talk about how we can work as a community to support and keep each other safer. This workshop covers topics such as substance use, and harm reduction. More specifically, we talk about the opioid crisis occurring in our communities and how to recognize and respond to an overdose through naloxone training. We acknowledge that these can be difficult topics to discuss and have developed our curriculum to reflect this and ensure that proper care is taken when needed.

In Decolonizing Our Health, we brainstorm as a group all of the cultural and current ways that we can take care of our well-being to live full and healthy lives—whatever that may look like. This is an opportunity for youth to think of all the ways we can reclaim traditional teachings and ways of being as young Indigenous people.

Trivia is a jeopardy-style game designed to review facts around the topics we have covered in our programming! This can include HIV, Hep C, STIs, harm reduction, and sexual health.

Culture Is Healing

Culture is Healing is a program that Yúusnewas offers once month on the traditional and ancestral lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh nations. Our Culture is Healing program was created and designed for life promotion through accessible and low barrier cultural, spiritual, and traditional teachings, activities, and knowledge. We recognize that urban Indigenous youth may experience a unique kind of displacement and made it our goal to improve cultural revitalization for Indigenous youth living in a large urban center. Culture is Healing also serves and aims to provide a safer space* for Indigenous youth to access peer support in the areas of sexual health and harm reduction. Upcoming Culture is Healing dates can be found on our Events page!

First Directions

Once per year, Yúusnewas hosts a gathering in Langley, BC on the unceded and ancestral lands of the S'olh Temexw (Stó:lō) peoples, where a group of Indigenous youth from across the province have an opportunity to learn about decolonizing health, destigmatizing HIV and Hep C, and how to create educational videos about the topics we've learned. 
During First Directions, we will be providing two-days of sexual health and harm reduction workshops, and 3-days of filming-related activities.

First Directions is FREE for Indigenous youth aged 14-29. Funding for travel, accommodations, and meals are provided. If you think you or an Indigenous youth in your community would be interested in attending, please contact yuusnewas@youthco.org

Stay up to date with Yúusnewas by following our Facebook and Instagram pages!

*To us, a 'safer' space is a supportive, non-threatening environment that encourages open-mindedness, respect, a willingness to learn from others, as well as physical and mental safety. While we do our best to foster a safer space, we acknowledge that harm may still happen. As an organization we are committed to harm reduction, in this context we are committed to mitigating the harm that may happen in our spaces and learning from such instances. We strive to work together as a community to keep each other safe and to hold space for our various and intersecting identities.

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YouthCO's office is located on the unceded traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh people. Our programs take place on unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of many Indigenous nations across what is now called BC.

YouthCO believes that all youth have the right to accessible and affirming information about our health. We also know each of us has a unique relationship to our bodies, sex, sexuality, substance use, and harm reduction. For many of us, the words other people use for our bodies and their functions are not the words we use for ourselves. Throughout our website, YouthCO uses words for bodies and sex that we know will not reflect the full diversity of our communities. We have tried to, where possible, be as expansive with our language as we know how to while being as specific as possible. As youth leading the HIV movement, we too are learning about the best words for our experiences and do not do this perfectly. We invite any feedback about the language used on our website to help us move forward in the best ways for all youth in our communities!