As shocking as it is in 2017, HIV-AIDS disproportionately afflicts African-Canadians in Alberta. The reasons are varied and complex, which means fighting the pandemic here is all the more difficult. But the reality is that in this province, African-Canadians are six times more likely to be living with HIV-AIDS than the general population, and comprise 26 percent of all new HIV infections despite being only 2.5 percent of the population.
While some people might want to avoid the subject due to stigma or mortal fear, my guest today isn’t one of them, and she’s dedicated her life to stopping new infections and helping those already afflicted.
Morenike Olaosebikan is a health scientist and the founder of Ribbon Rouge, which uses fashion and the arts to raise money to fund relief and treatment for those affected, and to educate and empower those most vulnerable so they can avoid being infected, or share their human experience through the arts if they have already been affected. The Ribbon Rouge project is more than a decade old and has raised tens of thousands of dollars to help those living with the human immunodeficiency virus.
In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Morenike Olaosebikan discusses:
We spoke on August 25, 2017 at downtown Edmonton’s Camel Boyz Somali restaurant.
Profiles on Morenike Olaosebikan
Art and activism—should they be friends? Hanging together like Kirk and Spock, Crockett and Tubbs, or Laverne and Shirley? Or should they be enemies like Luke Cage and Cotton Mouth, Avatar Aang and the Fire Lord, or Donald Trump and most of humanity?
Some people say that art and politics should never mix. Other people say that they always mix—but that people only protest those politics when they disagree with them. So if that’s true, what happens to society when people who define themselves as advocates and activists combine their views and ideas with their novels, paintings, plays, and more?
Those are questions that novelist SG Wong wanted answered. Wong is the inaugural featured writer of Capital City Press, a venture by the Edmonton Public Library. Wong is the creator of the Lola Starke hardboiled detective series set in Crescent City, California, in an alternate history in which China colonised North America. She’s also an Arthur Ellis Award-finalist and a tireless organiser in Edmonton’s literary scene. On March 27, 2017 Wong and the Edmonton Public Library convened a panel to discuss art and activism.
Kristen Hutchinson is an artist, independent curator, art historian, interior designer, and lecturer at the University of Alberta.
Matthew Stepanic is a poet and an editor at the Glass Buffalo and Eighteen Bridges literary journals, at the Tanner Young Publishing Group and at Where Edmonton magazine.
Dawn Marie Marchand is the Indigenous Artist in Residence for the City of Edmonton, and hails from the Cold Lake First Nation.
Aaron Paquette is a novelist, painter, speaker, and former federal candidate for the New Democratic Party
Marty Chan is a playwright, screenwriter, radio humourist, and YA writer.
In this episode of MF Galaxy, they discuss: