Expanded Indigenous leadership is the primary target for our Communication Plan. Indigenous leadership includes both official and unofficial leaders. Often the ‘gatekeepers’ of an Indigenous community are not those with a particular position, but their opinion is highly respected. Traditional Indigenous governance comprises leaders who are at the service of their communities; often these systems of government put forward an IIWGHA Leadership candidate after holding an internal process.

Rajesh-pic-croppedRajesh Didiya is the President of the National Association of People living with HIV/AIDS (NAP+N) in Nepal and an Indigenous member of the Newa Peoples. Rajesh identifies as an ex-drug user living with a compromised immune system since 2003 and has been working for community betterment for 15 years in Nepal in policy change and implementation of HIV and drug related harm reduction.

Mr. Didiya has been working as Peer Educator, Outreach Worker, Counsellor, Program Coordinator, Program Director and now as President of NAP+N. Because Rajesh has been involved in all aspects of HIV work, he understands the social dynamics of each area.

Rajesh is a farmer with a healthy lifestyle participating in all aspects of producing food, including the harvest. The farm, called The Empowerment Centre and located in Bhaktapur, Nepal, is the first of its type where all workers are either living with HIV or have lived experience with drug use.

BenBen Geboe is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and grew up on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation with distant relatives in the Dakota in Manitoba. He is a social worker with many years’ experience working with Native people in New York City. He is currently attending McGill University School of Social work and splits his time between NYC and Montreal. He works as the Native student coordinator of Indigenous Access McGill (IAM) program to promote Indigenous social work student admissions. He is descended from the Wakakdiduta family (Red Lightning) and is also part Miami and Cheyenne Arapahoe on his father’s side. His mother is Norwegian descent. Ben is very active in Two Spirit community events and social justice advocacy for Indigenous sovereignty.

WiloWilo Muwadda is a community activist supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander same sex attracted and gender diverse individuals and communities to self determine pathways of equity and justice in Australia. He has over 30 years of community work and volunteer experience with HIV and AIDS within Indigenous communities of Australia and 10 years of international experience with HIV and sexuality through his participation in programs in Papua New Guinea, Aotearoa, Pacific nations and Canada. He currently sits as a board member of the ILGA Oceania and the International Indigenous Working Group for HIV and AIDS (IIWGHA). Wilo works as an individual supporting local, state and national networks to empower their voice at national and international levels.

Pilar2Pilar Montalvo is an Indigenous woman of the Wanka Peoples of Peru with a master’s degree in social, management, over 21 years working to promote sexual and reproductive health, as well as human rights. Since 2006, she has served as the director of programs, developing research and advocacy on the subjects of sexual and reproductive health and HIV in Indigenous Peoples. Montalvo has also served as technical advisory for the Indigenous people of the triple borders in Peru, Brazil and Bolivia, Leader of the International Secretariat of the Indigenous and Afro-Descendants Peoples and HIV/AIDS, Sexuality and Human Rights (SIPIA) and leader for the Latin American entity of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS (IIWGHA).

abigailMs. Abigail Ofosu is a Financial Literacy Advocate specializing in Financial Service Support, Risk Management and Taxation. She has over 10 years working experience in Rural Banking, Insurance, Micro financing and Non Governmental Organization specifically in the area of Financial Reporting and Risk Management.

Ms. Ofosu holds Master’s of Science Degree in International Accounting and Finance from the Buckinghamshire New University UK as well as a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration-Accounting Option from School of Business-KNUST. She is a Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Ghana, Institute of Internal Auditors Ghana and a Student member of the Chartered Institute of Tax Accountants Ghana.

In addition to her current role as the Risk Manager for Akuapem Rural Bank, she is a Member of the Examination Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Ghana, Member of the Nsawam Adoagyiri Municipal Assembly Audit Committee and an Executive Member of the Makola Foundation FNGO.

melody2Melody Ndawana is a 34-year-old Zimbabwean lady who stays in the Midlands Province of Zimbabwe. Melody has worked with different organizations to include Zimrights, Zimbabwe Chamber of Informal Economy Associations, Women Coalition of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Christian Alliance to mention but a few.

Currently, she is the ZCIEA Kwekwe Territiorial President. She is also a vibrant and potential business person. As a Christian, she is a holder of a Certificate of Biblical Studies, Diploma in Biblical Studies, Higher Diploma in Prophetic Studies.

Melody has also trained and was certified as a qualified Peer Educator with Zimbabwe AIDS Prevention and Support Organization (ZAPSO). She is the director of Angelic Printers and Media and has also worked as a Regional Coordinator for ZECMIG.

Trained as a Paralegal with ICPJT, she has the passion to help the community in peace and justice building and make sure that the rights of the citizens are not being infringed.

m4Dr. Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine is a Tuareg woman from Tombouctou in Northern Mali. She is a medical doctor (University of Tizi-Ouzou-Algeria), humanitarian expert (University of Geneva-Switzerland), and Education specialist (University of Ottawa-Canada). She was a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 2014 to 2019 where her strong leadership, diplomacy skills and abroad knowledge of Indigenous issues globally brought her two consecutive years as chair. Dr Wallet Aboubakrine has been a guest speaker at several Indigenous Peoples meetings, United Nations agencies, Intergovernmental organizations, and academic institutions. She is also an author of articles and studies about Indigenous People’s rights, in particular the right to health. She is a founder of Tinhinan Canada and member of Tin Hinane Sahel, a nomadic woman organization in Africa.

Dr. Wallet Aboubakrine is currently based in Ottawa where she is open to share her experience and skills as an independent consultant.

Annemary-Fiabema2Annemary Fiabema, is the Founder of Faith Heritage Family (FHF) a Grassroots Humanitarian Organization, based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.

The group was founded in 2010 as a vehicle to reach out to the very poor indigenous residents of the Waterfront (Waterside) communities in Port Harcourt. Her Vision is to reduce HIV/AIDS and extreme poverty to the barest minimum. Her Mission is to Inspire the Despairing to Aspire.

Scope of work: Since 2010, she has been organizing workshops on Sensitization/ Awareness on how to manage/ tackle the spread of HIV/AIDS in these vulnerable communities.

She also organizes outreaches every 27th of May (Children’s Day) and 1st of October (Independence Day) which are very symbolic days in Nigeria, to feed, clothe and provide free medicals to less privilege children, widows and the elderly. Her catchment areas are the Waterfront communities, locally known as “Water side” settlements.

Her work has been appreciated by a United Kingdom organization named Wobia Entertainment who gave her an Award for Services for Humanity in 2016. However, she has projected expanding her scope in the coming years to teaching the youths and young widows’ artisan skills so they can be self-employed and earn a living.

karel2Karel Teriihauroa Luciani is mā’ohi indigenous Tahitian. Now 54 years old, Karel was born to two parents of mixed mā’ohi, European and Chinese ancestry. Karel is a new Leader for the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS (IIWGHA).

Karel has been an activist for LGBTQ+ rights for over 20 years, beginning in 1997 with the Homosphere association in New Caledonia. Today, in French Polynesia, Karel is president of the LGBTQ+ organization Cousins Cousines de Tahiti and member of the board of local AIDS organization Agir contre le SIDA. Karel is also Vice President of the regional organization Alliance LGBT+ Franco Océanienne and a representative to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). Karel engages in HIV prevention activities through the various LGBTQ+ and AIDS groups in which he holds posts.

Akhila-rajasri-Photo2Gangu Akhila Rajasri, aged 20 years, was born in an Indigenous community (Koya tribe) in a remote forest area in Kondrukota village in Andhra Pradesh, India. She studied for a Bachelor’s Degree of Computer Application. Her father, Gangu Anilkumar, was running an NGO for Indigenous peoples welfare activities, and she was involved in Indigenous welfare activities since her childhood.

Akhila is active with awareness camps for women regarding prevention of HIV/AIDS as well as building awareness for prevention of domestic violence in Indigenous families. She also advocates for other livelihoods improvement in Indigenous families through government funding and local contributions.

Akhila is looking forward to being an Indigenous leader in IIWGHA. She wants to support HIV/AIDS effected Indigenous peoples regarding prevention, treatment, and reference to hospitals, and wants to do advocacy with government regarding HIV/AIDS welfare programs.

Onyeka2Onyeka Christian Okafor is a 37-year old graduate of Human Physiology and Pharmacology, from the Indigenous Igbo speaking people of old Eastern Nigeria. He had worked with Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Nigeria Limited as a senior medical representative.

He is a community leader, a human right activist and the Publicity Secretary of Ikenga-Nri Development Union, the Aboriginal people of Nri, widely believed as the ancestral home of all Igbos. He worked for Hope Givers Organisation in various community programs like Global Fund Home Based Care (HBC) for People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) and Community Sensitization/Awareness creation targeting the youths on Global Fund Most at Risk population Intervention (GF MARPS) in various communities in Anambra State, Nigeria.

Okafor is also the Anambra State Chairman of Masses Movement of Nigeria, a registered political party in Nigeria with a core manifesto of an egalitarian system of government built on transparency, accountability, fairness and equitable distribution of opportunities, through masses participatory democracy.

matthew2Matthew Fischer is a proud Two-Spirited Mi’kmaq member of the Qualipu First Nation in Newfoundland. He has traveled extensively within Canada and around the world. He has spent time in most of the provinces and two territories before finally making Vancouver his home for the past 25 years.

Matthew has a very responsible, expressive, inspirational and friendly personality. Expression comes to him naturally and he is rarely at a loss for words. In fact, he has to put forth effort at times to curb an over-active tongue! Matthew has been active in unionism using his voice and skills for those who face injustices in the workplace. Matthew now works as a Community Research Associate in health research involving Indigenous communities, people living with HIV and substance use, as well as a Peer Navigator at a local hospital’s Rapid Access Addiction Clinic. He spends time learning about his culture that he was denied for 40 years. He enjoys gardening, biking, games and, yes, long walks on the beach wishing for world peace!

clive2Dr. Clive Aspin is a public health researcher who completed his public health training in New Zealand where he is affiliated to Ngati Maru in his tribal area of Hauraki. He has been a leader of IIWGHA since its inception.

Clive has an extensive background in research management, governance as well as Maori and Indigenous public health research. His research has focused on issues related to the Maori health and disability workforce, as well as Indigenous sexuality and the resilience of Indigenous communities. He also has a strong research interest in the impact that HIV has had on Indigenous communities.

He was the lead New Zealand investigator on a collaborative project with Australia and Canada that investigated the impact of HIV on Indigenous communities in the three countries, and examined the role of resilience in responding to HIV.

Clive has extensive governance experience gained from membership on a number of boards, most notably the Health Research Council of New Zealand. He held the inaugural position of Executive Research Officer at Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, New Zealand’s Maori centre of research excellence at the University of Auckland and played a key role in setting up the infrastructure of the centre. He was also the Founding Editor of AlterNative, an international peer-reviewed journal of Indigenous scholarship.

Clive lives in Wellington, New Zealand and teaches Maori and global health at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington.

amaranta2Amaranta Gómez Regalado identifies as Muxhe, Zapotec of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in Oaxaca, Mexico. Amaranta has been a social activist for more than 20 years at the local, regional and international level in areas of health, sexuality, human rights and cultural promotion. They were the first Muxhe/trans Mexican candidate to a federal deputy for the former Mexico Possible Party, recognized by the Federal Electoral Insititute.

Amaranta is Regional Secretary for the International Secretariat of the Indigenous and Afro-descendants working Group on HIV/AIDS, Sexuality and Human Rights (SIPIA) and a Leader of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS (IIWGHA) and holds a degree in social anthropology, specializing in gender studies, sexuality and human rights. Amaranta is undergoing studies at the University of Veracurzana in Veracruz, Mexico. Ms. Gómez was the former regional secretary of ILGA-LAC, for Latin America and the Caribbean from 2014 to 2016 and the former Co-director of the International Fund for Trans People from 2014-2017. Amaranta was also technical secretary of the First Municipal Council against Discrimination in Xalapa, Veracruz from 2016-2017. They are a current citizen assembly member of the National Council to Prevent and Eliminate Discrimination (CONAPRED) and coordinator for Latin America of TGV’s TvT project.

Jose-picJose Martin Yac Huix, a Maya Kiché, is a Political Scientist and International Relations specialist, with 10 years of experience strengthening children’s and adolescents’ skills on issues of sexuality, from a Human Rights perspective, with the goal of reducing the cases of STDs, HIV and AIDS; generating policy approaches which can become part of the national response system by proposing routes that respect the Human Rights of nations, their cosmology, Land and Identity Rights, and the wise practices of Indigenous people of Guatemala.

deniseDenise Lambert shares her life with five children, ages 11 to 21. She resides in the Summer Village of Sandy Beach, Alberta. Her formal involvement in HIV/AIDS prevention and support began inside correctional facilities in 1987. She currently works with the Kimamow Atoskanow Foundation, a rural based service organization providing mobile education and support throughout Alberta. As a member of the National Aboriginal Council on HIV/AIDS, Denise brings the perspective of Métis and First Nations communities into HIV and related policy discussions. A graduate of the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, Denise is completing her MSc at the University of Alberta in Health Policy research focusing on Indigenous populations.

elton-newElton is of the Near to the Water People Clan, born for the Edge Water People Clan, his maternal grandfather’s clan is of the Mexican People, his paternal grandfather’s clan is of the Tangle People, this is how he is Navajo, Dine. He is originally from Whitehorse Lake, New Mexico, and grew up in Window Rock, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation.

Currently, Mr. Naswood is an Independent Consultant. He was most recently a Senior Program Analyst in the Capacity Building Division at the Office of Minority Health Resource Center with the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Health and Human Services. He previously was a Capacity Building Assistance Specialist at the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center and was formally the Founder and Program Coordinator for the Red Circle Project, AIDS Project Los Angeles.

He is currently a member of the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition LGBT Advisory Council; member of the Community Advisory Panel for NMAC and the U.S. Representative Leader for the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Naswood received his Bachelors of Arts Degree in Sociology and American Indian Justice Studies from Arizona State University and attended the graduate degree program in American Indian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

paula2Paula Simonsen is a Sami from the north of Norway. The Sami People are the native people living in the north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and in the west of Russia.

She has been living with HIV since 2003, openly since 2004, and after that informing society about living with HIV, prevention and sexual health. The native view is her main focus. She is the front person of SÁMI+, a support group for Samis living with HIV in Norway, Sweden and Finland.

She grew up on a farm with cows and vegetables, within a family of traditional healers. Traditional health care is concerned with all aspects of a living human: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social—a holistic perspective.

She has been studying traditional handcraft, cooking (natural food and diets), and social anthropology.

As a chef her main focus has been healthy eating, and how food can strengthen both overall health and the immune system. Paula says, “Food is also our medicine.” Today she is working as a chef, making natural food from local nature, for private events and a public nursing home.

trevorTrevor Stratton is a 55-year old, two-spirit citizen of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation near Toronto, Canada with mixed English and Ojibwe heritage. Diagnosed with HIV in 1990, he is now the Coordinator for the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV & AIDS (IIWGHA) for its host organization, the Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network (CAAN). Trevor is a board member of the Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+), the President of the board of 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations in Toronto. He is also the Interim Executive Director of the International Indigenous HIV & AIDS Community (IIHAC).

In May of 2019, Trevor was awarded the Red Ribbon Award from the Canadian Association for HIV Research.