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Nature buddies,

Can you spot the Wood Frog?

It took me a minute, but it’s movement caught my eye the other day when I was clearing/maintaining one of the trails in the forest.


Hello, hello dear blog readers,

So, one week in and things are looking good! I had mentioned in my last post that I wanted to set up a bike repair workshop for CVAP volunteers and manual for the bikes that are going over to Uganda. So, last week I checked out Concordia’s bike repair workshop, The Right to Move, who will most likely help us in our bike-related endeavours. It was great! I didn’t fix much on my bike, tightened the spokes (I think it’s also called truing my wheel), and straightended out the wheel rim using hammers! Man, do I hit a lot of potholes!  It feels good though to be able to learn to fix this stuff myself.  The staff were super helpful, not to mention knowledgeable about the intricacies of bike fixin’. On the bike repair agenda for next week: shortening my chain and changing the casing on brake cables (or something like… this is regurgitated knowledge from one of my many bike-conscious roommates).  Here’s a list of other great bike resources in Montréal.

Je ne devrais pas trop me les peté mes bretelles, mais quand même… j’suis contente de d’apprendre des nouveaux habilités! Sont quoi vos bûts pour l’été? What are your goals this summer? O que você quer fazer esse verao?

In Uganda related news, I am happy to say that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill wasn’t passed by the Ugandan Parliament. From my understanding, according to the Globe and Mail, this could just be temporary and the bill may be altered to remove the death sentence, but that doesn’t mean that the bill will be dropped altogether.  You can read more about it here.  The organization,**, mentioned in the article is a great international activist organization that petitions governments all around the world for social, environmental, and economic rights. Even if you don’t plan on signing any of their petitions, I recommend that you check them out to see what’s going on in the world.

** est aussi disponible en français; ça vaut la piene de checké.  O site eh tambem disponivel em portugues! Vale a pena visitar o site**

Et pour vous laisser, une chanteuse Africaine, Nneka, avec un message important et une bonne toune en tête:




Why? Where? What?

Why am I not in Uganda? Where am I? What am I doing?

As you might have guessed… I am not in Uganda.

Why am I not in Uganda?

– I am not in Uganda because the trip for May and June were cancelled due to an uprising in Uganda. As mentioned in my last posts this has to do with food security issues and soaring prices (food, gas, and other commodities). Protests began on April 15th as a result of rising food prices. The civilian protests have resulted in a strong military presence in the streets, over 170 injured, and a hand full of casualties, not to mention the 4th arrest (the last time being quite violent) in three weeks of the official opposition leader, Besigye.  For more information/news reports, check out my last post here.

Group one (May and June) has been accepted to go in the second group (July and August). Of course, if the violence continues, then the trip will be cancelled. Jamie, CVAP’s director, is confident that things should calm down in the next two months. I have faith that CVAP will make the best decision for everyone involved. I have decided that I would still like to go to Uganda, however, I can change my mind at any time. If I don’t go to Uganda this summer, then I would like to go next year.

All donations will still go towards their original purposes. In the event that the trip is cancelled, and I am unable to go next year, I would like to donate all of the fundraised money to CVAP and their partner organizations in Uganda.

– So, if you’re not in Uganda, where are you?

I found out a week and a half before I was supposed to leave for Uganda that the trip had been cancelled. Fortunately, there was still room at my beloved Shire (my communal apartment — check out our blog here!) in Montreal.

After I got the news I felt annoyed. I felt angry. Why do people have to die for the right to eat? Why are we (as Canadians) not doing more about impending climate issues? Is Capitalism at fault? Globalization? Apathy? Greed?

So, I decided to stay in Montreal and DO something with all of this energy.  I’ve decided that instead of leaving to go WWOOFing right away, I should use this as motivation to try and affect change.

-Alright, but how are you gonna do that?

Truth is, I am not totally sure. So far my game plan includes:

  1. Setting up a bike repair workshops for volunteers going to Uganda and to help with the publication of a how-to bike repair guide to be sent over with the donated bikes to Uganda.
  2. Be on the planning committee for some sort of conference/event around food security and climate change issues. Try to reach as many people as possible and get them to engage/think critically about what kinda (food/global) systems they’re taking part in, and give them resources and tools for change. (Hm. This sounds like a mighty big task).
  3. Take part in a Medcins-Sans-Frontière introductory meeting; thinking of ways how I can affect change in the future (i.e. after I graduate next year).

And then…

  1. Spend part of my summer outside, learning about agriculture and connecting with people. Haven’t decided just where yet… but, will let you know when I do.

I just wanted to thank you all for your continued love and support!

Send some good vibes to Ugandans… actually… just send some good vibes to anyone… we could all use them!

I appreciate you reading 🙂





Just wanted to publish some articles about the situation in Uganda:


Voici qu’est ce qui se passe en Ouganda présentement:


Aqui, um artigo digando o que esta acontecendo na Uganda atualmente.


Esto es lo que está sucediendo ahora en Uganda:

My thoughts are with the people of Uganda,



Re: Harper Majority…

It would seem that I have done it again!

I’ve used a simple facebook comment as a source of inspiration for a mighty long rant and an awful lot of reflection!

As I am sure all Canadians are aware, Canada has just elected a Harper Majority.  Personally, I am disappointed. I asked a friend of mine why she voted Harper (to genuinely gain an insight into what the “majority” of Canadians were thinking). She answered saying that it was because he seemed to do an okay job getting us through the recession and that it was good for her business. She then, asked my why I DIDN’T vote for Harper. I decided to post my answer to my blog, because, well, it has direct implications on the kind of work/volunteer I do, and to some extent, on what is happening in Uganda.

**p.s. In case you don’t get to the end (it’s pretty long), just wanted to say that I am happy to answer your questions! **

Here’s what I had to say….


Dear (friend),
Again, thank you so much for your honest answer.
Okay, so I will agree with you that the liberals were not really an option. I also think that the green party has some amazing environmental policies, but that the federal government can not soley be focused on one issue alone (i.e. the environment). And while I support a lot of the Blocs platforms, I wouldn’t elect them for the federal government because they are almost solely interested in the preservation of Quebec; an important voice, but not who I want to be leading my country.

So that for me left the NDP and the Conservatives… however, I was also open to voting strategically in order to oust Harper. There are a few reasons that on a personal level I do not agree with Harper. I don’t know if you know, but I have been volunteering with sexual health education for over a year now on behalf of of an AIDS Service Organization (ASO). I go into schools/community centres/universities and talk to people about the importance of Safer Sex and HIV 101. The approach of this organization, and one that I agree with, is that of Harm Reduction. So, this essentially means that people are going to engage in risky behaviours (i.e. having sex) and so it is our job to make sure that they have the education and the resources to make the best choice for themselves (i.e. that 15 – 24 year old women are at an increased risk for getting an STI because the mucus membranes of their vaginal canal have not fully developed, so to protect yourself, use a condom). Harper has been cutting funding (and will continue to do so) for these kinds of initiatives because the Tories do not believe in harm reduction. They believe in abstinence and a “just say no” approach. Now, I don’t know about you — but to me, this doesn’t seem very realistic. In my opinion, this approach just does not make sense from a public health perspective. **Note: I posted Pisani’s video in my first blog posting **

Another personal story, I was supposed to go to Uganda this summer and volunteer with HIV EP (Education and Prevention). The trip has been cancelled because there has been a civil uprising in Uganda. People were peacefully demonstrating (Walk2Work) because the price of commodities, like food and gas, have gone up over 100% in the past year, about 10% in the last month alone, while the mininum wage continues to decrease. As a result of the walk2work protests, civilians are being shot, arrested and beaten/tear gassed by the gov’t military and are dying in a fight for the access to food. A large (though not the only) contributor to Ugandan food shortages is global warming.

Now what does this have to do with anything?! What we are doing in Canada is directly affecting the rest of the world.  Canada is one of the WORST world polluters in terms of green house gases; due our NATO agreement, we do not even begin to meet the criteria set out by the Kyoto Protocol. Under the Harper Government, reporting on climate change has DECREASED by 80%. How are we supposed to change things if we aren’t allowed to talk about it or if people don’t know about it?

(In relation to Uganda and other African countries, Harper has also closed 6 Canadian Embassies in Africa; severely tainting Canada’s relationship with Africa as a continent as it seems that Canada doesn’t care about maintainin posisitve relationships with different African countries.)

But, back to the environment! Jack Layton, on the other hand, lives in a house that is actually producing so much electricity, it is returning the energy to the grid. He is aware of the importance of environmental issues and is ready to fight for change.

It was important for me to elect someone that I felt would be innovative, responsible, accountable.

Speaking of being accountable/responsible, the reason that we had an election in the first place is because Harper was in contempt of the Canadian Parliament. What does this mean? It means that his party was lying to the parliament about their budgetary spending. I’ve heard that his is the first government in the history of Canada to be held in contempt. I had/have no desire to elect a parliament that is blatantly lying to me about what they are (not) doing.

According to my sources, under the Harper government, we have amassed 55 billion dollars worth of debt, and are giving 30 – 40 % tax breaks to the largest, most profitable companies in Canada (banks, oil) which only deflects money away from the people who need it the most (low – middle class families). I also read that Harper was actually looking to equalize salaries, and that minimun wage has not proportionally increased to inflation in the last three years, actually making low and middle class families poorer — as a student, this directly affects me. Under Harper it seems that the rich as getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. I’ve lived in Brazil — that shit’s not cool!

The NDP actually wants to help small business by giving them a 2% pointage tax cut. Helping out the little guys and not the conglomorates that are already making 700 million dollars profit.

Briefly, there are a few other policies that Harper stands for that I do not particularly agree with:
– getting rid of gay marriage
– privitisation of health care (I mean, it’s obvious how well that is working in the States). *
– wanting uniform sentencing for crimes, increased spending on prisons — even despite the fact that the crime rate has significantly decreased over the past decade.
– tar sands : officially the WORLD’s WORST polluter and a completely unsustainable resource. Why are we not looking at alternatives? Clean renewable energy? (see documentary H2Oil)

* Layton wants to increase the number of Drs and Nurses and make it more appealing for them to stay in Canada!
Here is another long list of reason’s that I, personally, didn’t want Harper to get elected :
I don’t particularly like to voting system in Canada — it doesn’t really feel like democracy. I also think that I am not so much voting FOR someone as voting AGAINST someone.  I’d like to see a more fair voting system, and will be interested in seeing how the UK’s referendum on their voting system turns out. For me, the choice seemed obvious — Stephen Harper is NOT my prime minister.I have heard the arguments about Harper “saving” the economy before, but based on what I’ve read… and how in-tact Brazil’s economy has been during the world recession… I believe that social justice and a stable economy do not have to be mutually exclusive.  I do not believe that Harper was the only option.Obviously, there is only so much I can do… the votes have been cast and the decisions have been made. I don’t know if you will understand how I feel, because you voted for the Conservatives, but I think this is going to bring some dark changes for Canada and I feel a little helpless.Obviously, I will respect your opinion though, as it was your vote and your decision. I also want to say thank you so much for reading through this all! I think it is important to consider both sides.

I hope, for everyone, that you were right about the Harper government.


Take the STI (sexually transmitted infection) out of STIgma and show a PHA (A person with HIV/AIDS) some LOVE!

Hello darlings!

Just wanted to say that I presented my research paper “HIV 101: Education and Prevention as a means of Humanizing HIV” at the Study-In-Action Conference hosted by QPIRG (Quebec Public Interest Research Group) on March 12th. The paper that my presentation was based on was also published in Stories From Montreal; published by the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Concordia University.

I am really enjoying being so involved in HIV EP.

Here is a pic of me at the conference, just before presenting.

Will write more about UGANDA soon!



Salut mes amours!

Un p’tit mot pour vous montrez un photo de quand j’ai fait mon présentation à la conférence Study-In-Action à Concordia. J’ai présenté ma recherche sur l’éducation et prévention du VIH à Montréeal. Cette fin de semaine, mon redaction éthnographique a été publié par le departement d’anthropologie et sociologie à Concordia dans un livre qui s’appelle “Stories from Montréal”.

La présentation à très bien passée… je suis contente avec, et ça reaffirm mon intérêt dans EP du VIH/SIDA. J’ai envie d’aller en Ouganda pour apprendre plus sur le pandémique et les effets secondaires de l’approche du gouvernement.

Je vais vous écrire de nouveau bientôt à propos de ce qui se passe avec mon voyage en Ouganda cet été.



Facebook Feud?!

Hello world,

I find the internet such an interesting space; a nexus of social interactions that might not take place otherwise. Facebook, the goliath of the social networking community, has been the arena for some very interesting conversations. There was one in particular that kind of makes me laugh, and it also made me sit down and think about my volunteer work in Uganda…


My mom, being the very supportive proud mother that she is, reposted my video on facebook asking her friends to support.

One of her friends commented “In this world it’s hard to not think that things like this are scams. So unfortunate. Also it begs the question why would we send someone into the war-torn juggles of Africa when there is so much charitable needs here at home? Her video does not convince me of her qualifications to be of much use there either.”

To which my mother replied “You’re a dick”.


I appreciated my mom’s desire to stick up for me (and to be honest, her blunt reply still makes me laugh), but felt that it was important for me to explain myself. I had an idea of what I’d be getting myself into when I signed up for volunteer in Uganda. I read his responses before writing my own, basically he said that he meant that there tends to be a lot of fraud in Uganda and was worried that I was being scammed, and that I must have misspelled the link to my blog (on my youtube video link) because it was sending to… well… a porn site…

Here’s my reply:

Bahaha. Thanks for the heads up. That was kind of embarrassing! Perhaps just another form of sexual health education?! (Kidding). I’ve just edited the websites. 🙂

So, I think that you’ve brought up some very good points — Thanks for sticking up for me mom, but I’ll take it from here. I think that it is important to criticize international “aid” and development as well as the programs that send people to “make a difference”. Who are these programs really benefiting and under what guise or prerogatives are they operating? How well-trained are these people who have come to “help”? And who benefits? The person or the community? You should check out the documentary “What are we doing here?”. It is about developmental aid in Africa.

I have been interested in international development and travel for a long time, but have only begun to educate myself about the validity of the work during this past year as I began to consider volunteering with CVAP and going into a career in HIV EP. I personally know the people who started and currently run CVAP, so am not in the least worried about being scammed by a fraudulent organization. Furthermore, all volunteers are going through weekly training sessions where we engage in debates and dialogues surrounding development work. Among other things, we have discussed the role of the NGO, Environmental Impact Assessments, poverty, and Uganda’s political and violent history, as well as what “sustainable development” really means. I am not saying that this makes me an expert on any of these subjects, however I really appreciate that as a group/organization we are conscientious of the role we play and the impact we have. This is why it is so incredibly important that we work with the community and that they are just as engaged, if not more, as the volunteers that are coming there.

Just to address a few of the questions/comments you had, volunteering at home is equally important! We have a lot of stuff that we need to sort out in our own societies. I am an avid volunteer, and all of the work that I have done in HIV EP has been volunteer — this includes coordinating a sexual health conference for youth (14 – 18) that took almost 8 months to plan and was held last fall. I am happy to say that it was a well-attended success (almost 100 youth and 13 different community-based organizations). Equally, CVAP has a sister project called CVAH (Concordia Volunteers At Home) which several volunteers take part in upon their return. Also, volunteering forms part of the criteria for the application process.

On that note, I’d also like to suggest that instead of simply focusing on “charitable needs”, our energy should be focused on changing current social paradigms. “Charity” tends to maintain the status quo instead of addressing the infrastructure that allows for such needs to exist in the first place.

Although I have not yet been to Uganda, the pictures of the new facility does not seem to be in the middle of a jungle. CVAP’s Executive Director has assured us that measures are taken and rules are enforced to protect our safety while in Gulu. You can check out their new facility here:

I am sorry that you feel that I “won’t be of much use” while volunteering in Uganda. Obviously, I have a lot yet to learn, having said that I do feel confident in my ability to build solid interpersonal relationships, volunteer, live abroad, and about my experience in the HIV EP field. Interestingly, I was also one of the top applicants.

Please don’t read this with a negative tone, as it was written with quite the opposite actually. I think your questions and criticisms are valid, and I knew going to “volunteer in Africa” would bring them up. Also, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me should you have any other questions or feel that I did not address any concerns you may have. Sorry to write such a long post, but I think this stuff is worth talking about.

Thank you for your compliment; my mom isn’t shy to say how proud of me she is (as you can probably tell by the fact that she has reposted all of my videos).

I hope that you enjoy the rest of your sunday evening, and thanks for taking the time to watch my video!


It seems that I was able to convince him that I might “be of some use” afterall. 🙂 The result of this faux-feud on facebook?! We’re now facebook friends and he made a kind donation to support my volunteer work in Uganda. I also asked him if I could repost this conversation as I thought that some of you might have the same questions or concerns.

As I mentioned in my reply, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have!


xx (one for each cheek)


Hello World,

Great news! I’ve recently found out that I have been accepted to volunteer doing HIV EP (Education and Prevention) in Gulu, Northern Uganda, for this summer with the Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program (CVAP)! This has been a long project in the making and I am thrilled to actually see it come to life.

I have been volunteering within the field of HIV EP for just over a year now and I absolutely love it. I initially chose to get involved with HIV EP for an ethnographic fieldwork research paper for my undergrad degree in Honours Anthropology at Concordia University. My article, “HIV 101 : Education and Prevention as a means of humanizing HIV”, will be published this spring, along with other ethnographic research papers gathered by Concordia’s Anthropology Department, in a book called “Stories from Montreal”.

I volunteered as a workshop facilitator giving HIV 101 and Safer Sex workshops in high schools, youth groups and community centres. I was inspired by the life stories of the people I was surrounded by in the field, plus I got to urge students to name genitalia as they squirmed uncomfortably and laughed awkwardly. Priceless. As I began my fieldwork, I remember listening to an interview on the CBC radio about the anti-homosexuality bill that Ugandan legislation was trying to pass in parliament, and the effect that this was having on HIV EP. I was aware that CVAP existed and decided that it would be my goal to go to Uganda the following summer to volunteer. It would be a step towards a career in HIV EP.

One of the main founding goals of CVAP was to focus on HIV EP, and try to eradicate HIV transmission and reduce stigma for those living with the virus. Fortunately, CVAP also believes in sustainable development. This means that they work with the community on projects that they chose and in ways that are meaningful to the community and meet their needs.  Sustainable development is important if we are going to move away from preceding trends of international aid, which in many cases only furthered the dependence of the country receiving the “help”. CVAP believes in economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability.   If you have a minute, you should read about their awesome new volunteer compound here.

So, how can CVAP address HIV in a manner pertinent to Gulu, Uganda? Stay tuned to find out.

I recently posted a video on youtube and facebook celebrating my acceptance and asking for both financial and moral support from people like you! The money will benefit the community in Uganda, and all of CVAP’s projects. There is no amount too small or too large, but my goal is to raise $ 1,800 by March 10th.


If you’re in Canada and would like to make a donation, you can do so via online banking.

If you are outside of Canada, I have a paypal account but also accept cheques.

In any case, cheques, e-interact transfers, and paypal can be made out to: Jade Cambron

My e-mail address is:

THANK YOU for your support and encouragement!

If you are in town, I encourage you to come to my Wine and Cheese fundraiser next Saturday, March 5th from 5 – 7 p.m.

Much love,