A history of trauma

Layering trauma on top of trauma. That’s what it’s like for Canada’s aboriginal people who are already “traumatized” by a history of discrimination and then are diagnosed with HIV, says a Métis man living with HIV.

Duane Morrisseau-Beck

Layering trauma on top of trauma.

That’s what it’s like for Canada’s aboriginal people who are already “traumatized” by a history of discrimination and then are diagnosed with HIV, says a Métis man living with HIV.

Duane Morrisseau-Beck, keynote speaker at the Central Alberta Aboriginal HIV/AIDS conference on Friday, said he was lucky to find a doctor in Winnipeg who recognized that his despair and anger went beyond the medical problems associated with HIV.

“He got it. What I think he saw was a history of trauma, not just for Métis people, but Inuit people and First Nation people,” said Morrisseau-Beck, of Ottawa.

Morrisseau-Beck, who grew up with his adopted family in Manitoba, said his doctor realized he needed to deal with his emotions to release his compounded pain.

Morrisseau-Beck challenged aboriginal organizations working with people with HIV/AIDS to develop emotional behaviour programs to help people to go beyond talking about their emotions and to start to process their feelings.

He said providing the right programming can take people from “being a victim to being victorious.”

“Emotional wellness programs allow people that are HIV positive to get past their diagnosis. With medications and emotional support programs, it opened up a door for me, such as getting education opportunities and starting to plan a path for my life.”

In addition to being an activist for aboriginal people with HIV, Morrisseau-Beck now works as an aboriginal labour market advisor in the Aboriginal Program Operations department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

He said the first person he told he had HIV in 1989 was his adopted mother, who immediately rejected him, so he also knows how important it is to be accepted by family and community.

“If a person with HIV doesn’t have that validation, they’re going to keep (their positive status) to themselves and that harms them even more.”

The conference, held at Red Deer College, was hosted by Shining Mountains Living Community Services and the college.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Westerner Park audit finds ‘gross operational mismanagement, gaping holes and lack of controls,’ says councillor

Two councillors question audit’s conclusion no inaccuracies were presented to the governance board

160 new COVID-19 cases reported in Alberta on Tuesday

Province now has 1,571 active cases

Lack of nurses stressing Red Deer hospital staff, says union

‘We don’t have enough nurses to do the work that’s required’

Reports of horse fever confirmed in central Alberta

Alberta horse owners are on the alert for the spread of a… Continue reading

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Saskatchewan premier sets campaign in motion for Oct. 26 election

Saskatchewan premier sets campaign in motion for Oct. 26 election

Deficit on track to hit $330 billion with COVID effects lasting years, says PBO

Deficit on track to hit $330 billion with COVID effects lasting years, says PBO

Alberta’s disaster risk assessment plan in poor shape: auditor general

Alberta’s disaster risk assessment plan in poor shape: auditor general

Former Conservative MP Rob Anders facing multiple charges of evading taxes

Former Conservative MP Rob Anders facing multiple charges of evading taxes

COVID-19 cases rising among US children as schools reopen

COVID-19 cases rising among US children as schools reopen

Disney to lay off 28,000 at its parks in California, Florida

Disney to lay off 28,000 at its parks in California, Florida

Trudeau pledges extra $400 million in humanitarian aid to fight COVID-19

Trudeau pledges extra $400 million in humanitarian aid to fight COVID-19

Montreal restaurateurs ‘in shock’ after provincial government orders 28-day closure

Montreal restaurateurs ‘in shock’ after provincial government orders 28-day closure

Most Read