Rosemary Plummer, R.N. – PRESIDENT (2015 – 2017)
Thank you, everyone, who has worked hard this year, continuing our activities in the many communities in which we live. We have done a lot of meeting and communicating, on-line, in person, by telephone, and on Skype. We have examined our goals, looking to the past and future while re-writing our Constitution, Bylaws, and Policy Manual to reflect new realities. Meanwhile, the phones – now toll-free – and emails got answered, booths got manned, and we participated actively in 34 diverse face-to-face public events targeting 12 different populations! There were countless private events, calls, and conferences as well.
We continued to send representatives out to take our message to the rest of Canada and the world, and bring back new ideas to us: Alan and Phil traveled to eastern Canada to talk to people concerned with providing access to affordable drugs, and issues of prisoner health justice. Susan, Del, and I attended a conference in Banff where we met with nurses and others, learning about public health issues faced across Canada and elsewhere, not only with hepatitis C, but with the opioid crisis, overdose epidemic, and mental health – addictions problems with which hep C so often overlaps.
Laurel and Cheryl traveled to a health fair and ran a webinar with the BCCDC and Positive Living North in Prince George, then Cheryl and I made a trip to consult with health professionals about hep C in smaller and larger communities in the Interior and the Kootenays. We found that awareness of hep C and its new treatments had increased among health professionals, but stigma, and the great need for education and materials remains. Many thanks to Robin for organizing the education day at Selkirk College in Castlegar!
We’ve gone to Seniors fairs, Pride events, World Hepatitis Days, neighbourhood flea markets, plus ethnic and Recovery Festivals. We have gone to church dinners and had lunch with sex workers, all in the same week. And our wonderful volunteers and staff have been busily recruiting volunteers to help with our outreach and events, while somehow (usually!) keeping everything running smoothly. Satori, Alan, and Cheryl have made sure HepCBC always submits a relevant “patient group review” when a new drug comes through the drug approval process, both at federal and provincial levels. And we are delighted to say we continue working with our partners at VIDC and Lu’Ma clinics to provide HCV testing, and with BCCDC, BC Centre for Excellence, World Hepatitis Alliance, and Cdn Society for International Health. Plus we have strengthened our working relationships with Pacific AIDS Network and other local groups.
Congratulations to Anita for getting through surgery and other challenges, to Satori for receiving your citizenship, to C.D. for the award given to our website and for your succinct weekly bulletins, and to Cheryl for wearing a bit “too many” hats. Alan, we are so glad to have you on board as a liaison with the Asian and hepatitis B communities! Thanks to Del for your wisdom and great connections to community groups, and to Phil for spearheading our commitment to Prison Outreach. Thanks to Jessie, Sue, Phil, and Laurel for holding down the fort in Victoria, to Alicia for opening doors and adding youthful energy, and to Leon for your steady presence and indigenous connections. All those with living experience of Hep C enrich us immeasurably, and we know it isn’t easy to be reminded of the hard times and injustices that this work brings up. I think of Dawn and Cynthia, Douglas and Joan and so many others behind the scenes. We really appreciate every one of you who give us input and a reason to carry on.
My time as president has been full and rewarding, but it is time to pass the baton on to someone else. HepCBC will face new challenges as our mandate expands to encompass all forms of viral hepatitis, and our cohort of volunteers changes along with the demographics we focus upon. As coverage for treatment options opens up for people at all stages of illness, we must adapt in order to stay relevant and to be of value to all the affected groups. However, we must remember and remain true to our core founding values, and take time to evaluate honestly every new step along the way. I don’t intend to bow out completely, and will lead a new Viral Hepatitis Education Committee. I wish the very best to all of us as we work collectively to eliminate viral hepatitis from the face of the earth, starting in British Columbia.
The Minutes of the AGM can be accessed here http://hepcbc.ca/agm-2017-minutes/