In March the team visited the pilot sites from the 6th to 9th. We have a new team member on board, and it was her first time meeting all of the DUDES and providers – what a whirlwind way to put faces to names!
We started the trip in Smithers this time, flying in Sunday evening. Around a later dinner we flushed out the final details of what we were going to be doing for the next 3 days – we were all excited as we usually are the night we arrive.
The first day we visited our DUDES at PLN in Smithers, and were able to show a rough cut of the documentary we created from our stay at Dunalter Lake in Houston in October. The guys absolutely loved it. After showing the film, we gained some valuable feedback, and had an informal discussion about the ups and downs in the group since the last time we saw them. They let us know that they have a city councilman and a lawyer still attending frequently. Our dudes in this group are a lot like foot soldiers, and they work with everyone they meet to expand the club. We also had a very powerful discussion about transgendered people’s rights and experiences in Smithers.
After this meeting, we took the short jaunt up to Moricetown, with a couple of the Smithers DUDES in tow, to meet with our only on-reserve DUDES club. They provided us with a wonderful dinner, of which our research assistant was asked to open. This meeting was very enlightening, as our team had not met with Moricetown prior. We learned that Moricetown has held a Men’s Kitchen, which has a very similar format to the DUDES club, for the last 20 years! Members of all ages, from children to elders, come to learn about culture, food preparation, and health. The group has strong community support and a dedicated leader, and the meeting was inspiring for our team and the Smithers DUDES who attended.
The next day we were able to have a meeting with Cormac Hickish (Health Services Administrator at Northern Health), who is a huge supporter of the program. He gave us some ideas regarding funding and sustainability that were very helpful. Afterwards, we met with the provider at the Smithers DUDES club to have a one-on-one interview about the impacts of the DUDES club, and gained some very valuable information.
The next day we flew from Smithers to Prince George (well, after an unexpected re-route through Terrace). After some scrambling due to our late arrival, we finally settled in at the hotel and met with our DUDES in Prince George. Their group has grown to include even more keen members. We shared a meal and talked about how the club had been going – they were excited that they had just been able to purchase walking shoes for the walking group that they are starting once summer truly arrives!
The next day Paul and Sandy had to leave to make it home for events on Wednesday, so Lyana and Iloradanon stayed to tie up some loose ends. They were able to secure a meeting with the interim director of FNHA to discuss project sustainability, especially on reserves. The meeting was very productive. Afterwards, Lyana and Iloradanon met with the Prince George elder for an insightful one-on-one meeting regarding the impacts of the DUDES club on the members.
After another successful pilot site visit, we parted ways for a few months.