Yúusnewas is an Indigenous youth-led program that provides opportunities for Indigenous youth to connect with each other, build skills and knowledge to take care of each other, and challenge stigma related to HIV and Hep C. We approach the topics of sexual health and harm reduction by centering Indigenous perspectives and incorporating traditional teachings.
We work with Indigenous nations across what is colonially called British Columbia to support Indigenous youth.Our physical office is based on the unceded, ancestral, and current territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people.
Yúusnewas connects with Indigenous youth through group programming, including workshops (in-person and online), drop-in cultural programming, and an annual video making workshop! We also connect with youth on Facebook and Instagram. Our programming focuses on youth from 14 to 29 years old.
Workshops (online & in-person)
Yúusnewas is 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 in Indigenous schools, youth centres and clinics, and/or organizations. Our workshops and programs are flexible and designed to meet youth where they are at. All of our workshops are led by Indigenous youth, 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, give us a call or email us at [email protected]. Our workshop topics include:
- HIV Basics 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.
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! 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 [email protected]!
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.
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.