weSpeak Bulletin - Spring 2016
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Issue 1
Spring 2016

Connect with weSpeak
519-253-3000 ext. 4075
613-562-5800 ext.8876

Upcoming Events
June 18
African, Caribbean, Black Multicultural Day
June 25
July 9 - 10
Caribana Weekend
July 28 - 31
August 13
Fundraising Dinner for African Canadian Federation of London and Area (ACFOLA)
May 14
July 7 – 10
Movie Screening: The Most You Live In
May 19
Windsor Workers Education Center Dinner Gala
June 24

The weSpeak team is happy to report a successful start to Phase 1 of the project. In 4 cities across Ontario – London, Windsor, Ottawa and Toronto – weSpeak is building the conversation on Black men’s health, well-being and HIV/AIDS. By inviting Black heterosexual men to participate in focus group discussions we are working together to explore their sources of vulnerability, resilience and ways to prevent HIV.
The Windsor Local Advisory Committee meets to discuss weSpeak project progress
Photo: weSpeak Windsor Team
In each city, a Local Advisory Committee (LAC) was established in order to guide the research team and ensure the experiences, perspectives and interests of heterosexual Black men are considered throughout the research process. Committee members come from all walks of life, bringing diverse opinions, skills and insights to weSpeak as they actively support the project.
The weSpeak team has grown to include several new research assistants. We would like to extend a warm welcome to Andre, Jude, and Deshawn in Toronto and Royce in Ottawa. Welcome to the team!

In preparation for the Launch of Phase 1, various team members from each city collaborated on the development and co-facilitation of peer-led virtual training sessions. All team members completed successful trainings on meaningfully engaging ACB communities and conducting qualitative research.
Team members in Ottawa get together for in-person training
Photo: weSpeak Ottawa Team
Additional in-person training and ongoing mentoring has taken place at the local level.
The success of the training showed in the initial outreach efforts. In all 4 cities, team members have been busy attending events, sharing information about weSpeak with community members and engaging straight African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) men to participate in the study.
weSpeak Windsor Master’s fellow, Osagie (centre) speaking with community members
Photo: weSpeak Windsor Team
Promotional materials, formal presentations, word of mouth and websites catering to Black communities, were useful for successfully engaging ACB men.
weSpeak Toronto Master’s Fellow, Kimberly, gives a presentation
to Toronto Public Health sexual health staff

Photo: weSpeak Toronto Team
Active engagement of community-based organizations, such as barber shops and local Community Health Centres, is an integral part of the foundation for the weSpeak project. By engaging people beyond traditional board/meeting rooms we hope to lay the roots of what will be a truly community based research project from start to finish.
Photo: Martin McIntosh
Altogether, the weSpeak team has reached out to over 1300 community members, recruited over 200 potential participants and had 91 straight black men and 5 service providers participate in focus group discussions.
Photo: Martin McIntosh
As outreach for Phase 1 continues, more focus group discussions are planned for the weeks ahead, including, bilingual and French speaking people living with HIV/AIDS (PHA) and non-PHA (Ottawa); service providers and French speaking ACB men (Toronto); ACB men 40 years and older, PHAs and service providers (London).
Preliminary findings from focus group discussions reveal something we already know anecdotally – sexuality and HIV remain taboo topics within Black communities.
weSpeak London Community Research Coordinator, Martin, prepares for a focus group 
Photo: Martin McIntosh
Yet, in these discussions, many men expressed the need for more forums where ACB men can engage in dialogue about sexual health and related social issues. One participant said,

"I wish we had more open conversations about HIV and straight Black men."
Participants showed enthusiasm about continuing the conversation and the potential for more. Another participant said,

“This was an enlightening conversation, I had never had such a conversation, you need to organize more of these conversations and invite more people.”
Over the next quarter, team members will prepare and pilot test the weSpeak survey. In anticipation of launching Phase 2 of the project, we continue to engage with heterosexual Black men in the discussion around Black men’s health, well-being and HIV.
To learn more about weSpeak, or to participate,
contact the team in your city:

519-253-3000 ext. 4075

613-562-5800 ext.8876
Copyright © 2016 weSpeak, All rights reserved.

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