Less than thirty years ago, ordinary people living with HIV/AIDS, alongside allies, took action to resist stigma, change harmful government policies, and save one another’s lives. These people’s stories deserve to be remembered and learned from. We have posted complete transcripts along with short video clips of the first interviews conducted as part of the AIDS Activist History Project. We have also collected and made available extensive archival material, including photos, meeting minutes, and news articles from this time. It is all available through our website.
This is only a beginning of recovering the stories of direct action oriented AIDS activism from 1985 to 1996 across ‘Canada’ that will include more interviews in these centres as well as the narratives of activists in Montreal and Ottawa. During these years AIDS activists changed the world. These interviews capture a sense of the power of this organizing and the energy and imagination of these activists. Along with these stories of resistance are stories of loss and pain as people died during these years because of state and professional neglect. The method we used in these interviews was to start with AIDS activist groups that existed in these centres during these years and to move out from there to see what connections could be made. In Nova Scotia we started with the Nova Scotia Persons With AIDS Coalition and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP), in Vancouver with the PWA Coalition, the Coalition for Responsible Health Legislation and ACT UP Vancouver, and in Toronto with AIDS ACTION NOW! In making these initial interviews available we hope to first of all actively remember AIDS activism and to provide information and resources for those wishing to develop more comprehensive histories of this activism. The Interviews tab lists interviews by city that they relate to and are then listed alphabetically under the name of the person interviewed. There is a link to an ‘Omeka’ site, which collects and organizes ephemera. Please feel free to send us comments and suggestions. We also welcome corrections for the spelling of people’s names, places, and organizations. If you were involved in HIV/AIDS activism in the Canadian context and would like to be interviewed, please get in touch! We would love to speak with you and include your stories and history.
While some academic writing might come out of this project, the main product of these interviews will be a publicly-accessible website with transcripts of interviews that will be a resource for understanding the history of this movement and why it matters to us today. Shotwell and Kinsman welcome contacts from anyone interested in being interviewed, or suggestions for people they should contact.