Layering trauma on top of trauma.

That’s what it’s like for Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples who are already “traumatized” by a history of discrimination and then are diagnosed with HIV, says a Metis man living with HIV.

Duane Morrisseau-Beck, keynote speaker at a recent Central Alberta Aboriginal HIV/AIDS conference, said he was lucky to find a doctor in Winnipeg who recognized that his despair and anger went beyond the medical problems associated with HIV.

“He got it. What I think he saw was a history of trauma, not just for Metis people, but Inuit people and First Nation people,” said Morrisseau-Beck of Ottawa.

Morrisseau-Beck, who grew up with his adopted family in Manitoba, said his doctor realized he needed to deal with his emotions to release his compounded pain.

Morrisseau-Beck challenged aboriginal organizations working with people with HIV/AIDS to develop emotional behaviour programs to help people go beyond talking about their emotions and to start to process their feelings.

He said providing the right programming can take people from “being a victim to being victorious.”

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