Due to ACCKWA’s response to Covid-19 our office will be open
Monday – Friday 10 – 6pm
Please ring doorbell for supplies!
Everyone else stay at home and contact us through phone or email.
A Pride message from the ACCKWA Executive Director
ACCKWA has supported individuals in the Waterloo Region for 33 years. As a queer-led, queer-focused organization that centers harm prevention, health promotion, anti-stigma work and inclusion for multiple marginalized communities, we believe dismantling individual, institutional and structural homophobia and trans-phobia is necessary for equity, well-being and inclusion to be achieved by 2S and LGBTQ communities.
ACCKWA’s health promotion work engages vulnerable LGBTQ youth and educators to realize this health and social equity goal. As important institutions in student’s formative years, safe, inclusive schools facilitate students in their individual learning objectives, foster positive social skills and build welcoming neighbourhoods and communities for youth and their families.
Ideally, schools teach students to critically assess the curriculum they are being taught. Replacement of the Pride Flag, and its complex history is an ahistorical, violent act erasure and an irresponsible act on the part of a Board of Education. Additionally, replacing a community-generated flag with an outside image imposed on a marginalized community is oppressive. This replacement image is connected to a message of conditional acceptance from God on the basis of presenting muted obscured “diverse” identities. “We are all wonderfully made – we love because he first loved us” is a positive sentiment, containing a second coded message. “We will conditionally accept you into our school-based faith community, if you mute your difference for the comfort of the collective.” Imposing conditions on belongingness is a barrier to attachment, inclusion and trust for adolescents at a key developmental life stage. These coded conditions on community inclusion share many characteristics with spiritual abuse.
Trustee Reitzel is an authority figure. His specific comments on Pride inject harm into a month of LGBTQ community celebration. These shaming comments are directed at adolescents during a crucial stage of identity formation. Such comments could have long-term impact on self-esteem, self-efficacy and well-being for a student group disproportionally impacted by bullying, familial rejection and subsequent homelessness, lower school completion rates and suicidal ideation. Educators, trustees and educational institutions have a responsibility to instill pride in a vulnerable 2s and LGBTQ students through fully recognizing an honoring their multi-faceted identities and abilities.
Ruth Cameron, ACCKWA Executive Director, Black lesbian, mother
HIV Happens Here
At ACCKWA, we work toward a future where new HIV, hepatitis C, and sexually-transmitted or blood-borne infections are rare in Waterloo Region. People living with HIV will feel that maintaining health, well-being and full community participation are achievable, realistic goals.
Through responsive programming and multi-sectoral collaboration, ACCKWA will:
- work towards the reduction of HIV, hepatitis C, and other sexually-transmitted and blood-borne infections in Waterloo Region;
- address the social determinants of health that create stigma, discrimination, and vulnerability for our service users; and
- provide excellent HIV care and support to individuals, families and most-affected communities.
See our Strategic Plan 2016-2020.
In the mid 1980s, Waterloo Region saw its first cases of AIDS. People living with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) faced discrimination at the hands of the health care system, testing and treatment were inaccessible, and AIDSphobia fueled misinformation and stigma. Residents of KW gathered to create an agency to meet the growing need for education, advocacy, and support. In 1987, ACCKWA was formally incorporated as an AIDS Service Organization, establishing support groups for PHAs and offering anonymous HIV Testing and a Needle Syringe Program several years later.
Over thirty years later, we still run support groups, host a weekly testing clinic, PrEP Clinic, a HealthCare Hub, and ARCH Clinical Services, and deliver Harm Reduction Services. We have evolved to offer targeted prevention and outreach through the African & Caribbean Strategy, the Women & HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Gay Men’s Sexual Health program, the Youth Sexual Health program, and our Support and Peer programs.
We have satellite offices in Waterloo and Cambridge, and we collaborate with incredible community partners who help us bridge the gaps in prevention and care. We receive funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health & Long Term Care, The United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo & Area, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, and rely on funds raised through agency events, third party events, individual/corporate donations and corporate match programs to allow us to continue to provide important free and confidential services throughout Waterloo Region.
We honour our history of advocacy, support, education and outreach, and commemorate the bright lives lost to HIV and stigma. We are dedicated to supporting people who are infected, affected, and at risk for HIV/AIDS and strive to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS in the community.