A sexual educator from Kahnawake will co-host a sub-conference focusing on Indigenous young people’s sexual health at an upcoming United Nations world AIDS conference that will be held in downtown Montreal at the end of next month.
Iehente Foote – who has been working on sexual-health issues for 13 years – said she and her co-organizers of the Indigenous Youth Networking Zone are excited for the event, which will be part of the 24th annual International AIDS Conference at Palais des Congres from July 30 to Aug.1.
They hope to create a safe space for Indigenous young people to come together and create a critical mass of knowledge and best practices for Indigenous youth around the world.
“We’ll create from it. We will come up with some sort of educational resource from it, but it’s mainly to connect, to share in a safe space that’s only concerned with young people,” Foote said.
She and two other Indigenous youth (one based in Ontario, the other in B.C.) will host the Indigenous Youth Networking Zone in an effort to spread the message of sexual health in a way that takes their individual needs into account.
“Often, we’re the last ones to be considered,” she said. “And even when we are considered, we’re last, and then they don’t even say Indigenous issues aren’t considered much, either. We’re hoping to strengthen and solidify our work as Indigenous young people.”
The International AIDS Conference 2022 has been recognized by the United Nations and and partners as a key platform to provide space for meaningful engagement of adolescents and young key populations to share experiences, good practices, and instruments, gain new knowledge and discuss topics related to sexual health and beyond.
The Indigenous Youth Networking Zone will be part of the Global Village exposition at Palais des Congres and will open July 30 at 11:30 a.m.
“We want to create dialogue and strengthen each other. There’s a lot going on, and these conferences are where the actual good ideas are happening and we are very much looking forward to it,” said Foote, who added that despite her age of 30 – as well as her similarly-aged colleagues – she has plenty of experience to lean on.
“We were joking that among us, despite being kind of on the young side, we have more than 50 years of experience between the three of us,” she said.
For more information on the 2022 International AIDS conference, please visit www.aids2022.org.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase