By Titima Wanwilaiwan, final year MDP student
I came across Sunshine House Winnipeg in 2018, during the MDP Capstone course. I helped develop an evaluation framework for their program with some classmates. Since then, the relationship has grown and I admired their unique Drop-In program for marginalized community members. This led me to wish to continue working with them.
|Kara Passey, Titima, Elijah Osei-Yeobah & Margaret Ormond from Capstone project|
In the fall of 2019 my final field placement was with the Sunshine House. What excited me the most was being able to join a professional team and to put into practice my programming development skills on challenging urban community issues. I worked a lot on myself in designing an unique program from a harm-reduction perspective. This helped me to gain insight in regards of discrimination and social exclusion in societies for people living with HIV/AIDS, LGBTQ and people with addiction issues.
Sunshine House is a community organization, drop-in and a resource centre that works to fill the gap for marginalized community health and well-being, and that focuses on social inclusion and harm reduction.
My role was to conduct research, provide research information, work with the team for the revision of the project proposals and assist in the submission and revisions for grant applications. The first proposal was on the Long-Term Health Impacts of Solvent Use on Immune System.
The second proposal that I was involved was the Managed Alcohol Drop-In program (MAPs). This is a harm reduction approach for people living with severe alcohol dependence who often experience chronic homelessness, which is made worse by over policing, poor access to treatment by the healthcare system, and racism and discrimination issues. During the three month placement, I reviewed a lot of literature, brain stormed, and discussed with the team members who have insight from a decolonizing framework. I learned from them community-led, holistically thoughtful, and inclusive approaches for developing communities in urban settings.
For many First Nations people, substance use serves as a method of coping with past and present trauma. Many of these traumatic experiences are directly linked to Canada’s history of colonization, which resulted in legal prohibition of Indigenous culture and language, massive social and cultural disruption caused by the establishment of the reserve system, residential school and child-welfare systems.
|Buddy needs attention after a long meeting|
My final placement came to an end and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with Margaret Ormond and Levi Foy (both former and current executive director). They both provided good support, mentorship, and helped me to discover the hidden pictures and invisible communities. My perception of health and well-being is now broader as I recognize how self-determination plays an important role in health and well-being for someone who has been discriminated against, and visible in a way that unaccepted by so called urban society. These lessons will help me to share that love and respect to others in my future work. Again, I learned so much from the community and all of these experiences from the field of urban development among Indigenous community will equip me to be more useful, resourceful and respectful. Meegwetch.