The Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt: Website Launch!

AIDS_LogoBackground

The Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt has its roots in San Francisco, where a group of people came together in 1987 to create a living memory for those who have died of AIDS-related causes. In 1989, the U.S. AIDS Memorial Quilt went on tour across the United States and Canada. Many cities in Canada hosted their own displays, where they received hundreds of new panels that were created in memory of those who lost their lives during the HIV/AIDS crisis. These panels formed the basis for what is now the Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is comprised of more than 640 panels and over 80 sections.

The Quilt Website

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Image of person standing in front of the Nova Scotia PWA Panel from May 1989. Image available here.

From the Video Vault: The Facts On A.I.D.S. (1983)

The Facts On A.I.D.S. (1983) – 30 minutes, colour, english
by Gablevision

While Nick Sheehan’s No Sad Songs (1985) is often cited as the first feature documentary about HIV/AIDS in Canada, it was predated by an interesting cable access program based in Vancouver, BC.  Running monthly from 1980-1986, Gayblevision was groundbreaking in many ways—most notably its role as Canada’s first television series by and for queer viewers.  Its period of operation also overlaps with the emergence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Canada, and HIV/AIDS-related content appears in numerous episodes. From public service announcements, to in-depth analysis of mainstream media coverage, to press conferences, to direct address by PLWAs to other HIV-positive people, Gablevision covered the early years of the epidemic in ways no one else did in Canada. All in all, Gayblevision produced over 3 hours of HIV/AIDS related content for distribution on cable television in Vancouver. The Facts On A.I.D.S., produced as a special by Gayblevision in 1983, is the most concerted effort by this group of queer media activists to produce HIV/AIDS content. Ranging in focus, the special primarily functions pedagogically, educating viewers about medical and societal understandings of the disease at a time when little information was available, let alone non-judgemental. This episode also outlines the need for and emergence of a community response to the health crisis via AIDS Vancouver. A full description of the special with timestamps is available here.

A full list of Gayblevisions episodes are available streaming online thanks to one of Canada’s oldest artist-run centres, VIVO Media Arts Centre. Special thanks to Karen Knights at VIVO for her insight into the Gaybelvision collection!