The BC COMMunity Advocates Program (CommA) aims to help community members from small urban and rural areas in BC keep up-to-date on the latest innovations in queer men’s health and supports them in sharing what they learn in their communities.
BC CommA participants are invited to Vancouver and attend education workshops as well as the Gay Men’s Health Summit. The Summit is an annual conference organized by the Community-Based Research Centre that showcases presentations, seminars, and workshops on the unique health needs of gay, bi, trans, queer self-identified men, and Two-Spirit and non-binary folks (GBT2Q). During their stay in Vancouver, CommA participants are also invited to a number of social lunches and dinners where they build relationships with each other, professionals in the field, and exchange knowledge and resources relating to engaging their communities in queer-health matters.
CommA aims to improve GBT2Q health promotion strategies in small-urban and rural communities using a collaborative and community-based approach, empowering the participants who know their communities best to translate and connect this knowledge to those communities.
CommA takes place on the traditional territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), səlYilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil- Waututh), and Sḵ wx̱ wú 7mesh (Squamish) Nations. Conscious of the historical and ongoing marginalization of Indigenous communities here and across the world, CommA activities are planned with the intention of operating in a way that reduces ongoing harm caused by colonization. The CommA program centres GBT2Q community members who face additional marginalization, barriers to accessing healthcare, and oppression based on race, socioeconomic status, gender, and other intersecting marginalizations.
Is CommA for you?
CommA participants are gay, bi, trans, queer self-identified men and Two-Spirit and non-binary folks (GBT2Q) across BC, outside of Greater Vancouver who are passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of their queer communities.
Participants are expected to attend all Summit and CommA program events, and commit to sharing what they share in their communities with our support.
Additionally, this is an opportunity for HIM to learn from community members: every community faces unique challenges and responds to them differently, hearing about participants’ unique experiences helps HIM serve our communities better.
- Self-identify as a man (trans, cis, and other) and/or Two-Spirit, non-binary, gender-queer person
- Identify as asexual, bi, gay, queer, Two-Spirit, and/or a guy who has sex with guys (for any reason including for work)
- Live in small-urban or rural community in BC
- 19 years of age or older
- Willing to share what you learn with members of your community
**No formal education or health promotion experience necessary
Any questions about the eligibility criteria, please email Kiarmin Lari, Program Coordinator, Advance at HIM: email@example.com
Event Details – 2019
CBRC’s 2019 Summit will be held October 31-November 1 at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel in Vancouver, BC.
7-10 CommA participants will be invited to Vancouver to attend the Summit events. CommA participants stay at a Vancouver hotel near the location of CommA program activities. There will also be events reserved for the CommA cohort including social meals and training sessions where they will explore effective outreach strategies, as well as a tour of HIM on Davie and debriefing/closing session at the end of the weekend.
Prior to attending the Summit, there will be a short teleconference between participants and CommA organizers to discuss what to expect from the Summit in more details and what they are hoping to get from the experience.
HIM covers the participants’ cost of travel (economy airfare, taxi, bus, train), hotel accommodation, and food for the duration of the program dates. Registration for CommA 2019 will open August 6, 2019 and remain open until September 23, 2019.
How much does it cost?
HIM sponsors community members to participate in the Summit, this includes the cost of travel to Vancouver, cost of stay in a hotel, and food for each participant while in Vancouver for the Summit.
Where is the Summit?
The Summit is an annual conference that takes place in Vancouver, and Summit 2019 will be at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel in Vancouver, BC.
Where can I read more about the Summit?
Check out the Summit website: http://cbrc.net/summit.
How to apply?
Fill out the application on our website and tell us what motivates and interests you to participate.
Are you taking applications?
Applications for CommA 2019 will open August 6, 2019, and applicants are informed of their participation status by early October.
What People Are Saying
Attending the 2018 Summit was a memorable and valuable experience, and I am grateful to have had this opportunity to learn about queer men’s health. I left the summit with renewed confidence to make positive change in my community.
A topic that related well to my home city of Abbotsford is [internalized] shame… It leads to heightened stress and internalizing negative emotions, and is associated with suicidal tendencies. Accessing help for these issues is difficult for some, either due to external factors such as inadequate insurance for mental health care, or internal factors such as the stigma associated with seeking out that kind of help. Hosting regular social events and continuing the sexual and physical health programs already in place is vital to expanding queer community engagement and the use of those services… Other equally viable strategies also exist, and I am eager to begin working with other members of the queer community in my region to expand on what we can do to help others. We have a unique opportunity to help others, and by staying motivated and setting the right goals we can improve the quality of life for everyone here.
As an individual that has been sexually assaulted, it was both refreshing and interesting to have a talk about consent in the GBMSM community. Going into this presentation I was a little skeptical because although consent is a very basic concept,
many people within our community assume certain behaviours are acceptable. Nolan tackled the topic in a very interesting manner by first asking us what the unique needs and assumptions of our community were. One point that came up for assumptions was that certain spaces mean/equate to consent which is something that you observe at almost any gay bar in a larger city. Nolan provided a set of tools to aid anyone being a bystander for sexual assault, which to this day I have never heard about and are very useful. I attend the Mpowerment group in Prince George and I think consent is something that everyone should be conscious of. I plan on sharing this information with other individuals that attend Mpowerment PG and friends from other municipalities. Hopefully by doing this, it will prevent others from having to go through what I did.
Standing hand in hand, listening to elders welcome us to the Summit, set the tone for the conference. Unity. The feeling of acceptance, collaboration and cohesiveness of the Summit community fostered innovative thinking and discussion.
This was especially true with the Indigenous component of the conference, where elders elaborated on the meaning of two-spirit and the history of sexuality for different indigenous communities. Another major topic during the conference was mental health and suicide among gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (gbMSM). Working in crisis and suicide prevention, I believe this knowledge was the most useful to me. Learning about factors contributing to greater mental illness, barriers to accessing services, and possible solutions to decreasing mental illness and suicide will aid the Crisis Centre serve the gbMSM population in Northern BC better. I’m thankful for this opportunity and hope to return to the Summit in following years.
RN Overdose Prevention Worker
The narrative used was one of sharing the stories and lived experience of both his group participants as well as both himself and colleague, the group facilitators. I came away from this presentation with a greater understanding of how the actual process of crystal meth consumption affects both the psyche and physiology of the consumer as well as the ensuing ripple effect of dysfunction that befalls the consumer.
The illicit street drug epidemic, specifically crystal meth, has affected communities large and small, locally, nationally and internationally. As I work with my local population, I feel I have been armed with useful tools to empower both myself and my colleagues in all my volunteer capacities to further educate and empower others as we struggle to work with the ever growing population of crystal meth users in my community. This is an ongoing and growing issue encountered within my community. In discussion with my community partners, an open dialogue has already started. They look forward to hearing more about what I have gleaned having attended The Summit 2018.
BC CommA 2018
HIM, in partnership the with Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC) and Men’s Health Initiative (MHI), co-sponsored 13 community members to attend 2018’s Gay Men’s Health Summit. During their stay in Vancouver, the Community Advocates participated in a number of mingling lunches and dinners where they networked and exchanged their experiences and stories. This included a dinner at La Casita after the first day of Summit where they relaxed and had a chance to get to know each other better, and a working lunch at the Summit where they shared ideas on how to advocate for the health of their queer communities.
On the Saturday after the Summit, the participants gathered at HIM on Davie for a debriefing session, and to receive a tour of the office and the Health Centre from Hans Bosgoed, the Associate Director, Clinical Services. Visiting the health centre and learning about its operations proved to be very interesting for the participants. A number of the participants got in touch with HIM to discuss implementing, lobbying for, or improving similar already-existing services in their home communities.
The BC CommA 2018 program was a big success, and the participants described their experience as inspiring and rewarding and left with new knowledge and enthusiasm for doing meaningful community work. They found sessions during the Summit discussing high rates of mental illness among GBT2Q men especially resonant. One participant said, “the sense of pride and hard work in the presenters [at the Summit] rekindled the fire in me to continue the work that still needs to be done back home.” We are excited to do what we can to continue supporting 2018’s CommA participants in their work to improve the health of their queer communities, and look forward to having a new cohort to join us at next year’s Summit!
If you have any questions, please email Kiarmin Lari, Program Coordinator, Advance at HIM: firstname.lastname@example.org