The Great Moon Gathering

The following post was written by Art for AIDS Marketing and Communications Intern Robyn Bell.

Moosonee 2

This month, we were honoured to exhibit at the Great Moon Gathering in Moosonee, Ontario; an annual conference hosted by the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council and Omushkego Education to promote life-long learning opportunities for the Cree community and support cross-community collaboration. The conference brought together educators from the eight Omushkego Education Authorities and the surrounding communities to engage in professional development, and to share resources and ideas with one another. This year's theme was The Spirit Voice... Lessons from the Land.

Over the last few years, Art for AIDS has had the opportunity to host workshops with students in Moosonee and neighbouring Moose Factory, Ontario, which has resulted growing community dialogue about HIV and AIDS, as well as broader related issues, and in the creation of powerful works of art. At the Great Moon Gathering, we had the opportunity to share some of this work with the broader community and engage with other educators about the importance art plays in education. We also hosted new workshops with Delores D Echum Composite School in Moose Factory.

We are extremely grateful to have been invited to participate in the conference and share our work with others. Thank you to Irene Tomatuk, the Director Of Education at the Mushkegowuk Council, and Vic Linklater, the Great Moon Gathering Coordinator, for inviting us to attend the event. Thank you also to the students, teachers, and administrators at Delores D Echum Composite School for their support and fantastic participation. We'll be sharing their artwork online in the coming few weeks!

For more information on the Mushkegowuk Council, please visit:

A Letter of Thanks from Moosonee Public School

This past spring, Art for AIDS' Executive Director, Hendrikus Bervoets, traveled to Moosonee and Moose Factory Ontario for the third time in two years to host workshops with young people covering a range of topics including HIV, discrimination, and social justice. Recently, we were honoured to receive a letter of thanks from one of the teachers involved, which, with her permission, we wanted to share. While we consistently work to ensure that our workshops are engaging, fun, and educational for everyone involved, letters like this affirm that we are on the right track and are a source of motivation for our whole team:

Although some of us may never travel the world, or even leave the little bubble that is Moosonee, I thought it was very educational for the students to meet Hendrkus; a world traveler with a humanitarian spirit.

Hendrkus relayed so many powerful and thought-provoking messages during his workshop; I know that many participants were touched by various things he said. For me, his comments of acceptance were very moving and encouraged me to be less judgmental and more open to the knowledge and experiences of those around me.

I have been racking my brain for months, trying to design a workshop that would prove to be a self-esteem builder while also teaching our students resiliency. As it turns out, all I had to do was have my students attend one of Hendrkus’ workshops! The empowerment, confidence and overall joy in the room throughout the two days was as infectious as it was incredible.

Words cannot express how grateful I feel for having had the opportunity to participate in the “Art for Aids” workshop. Being able to share it with the Grade 8 students of Moosonee Public School makes it that much better. I know that the messages of acceptance, social responsibility and self-worth that were communicated throughout the workshop will go a long way in aiding our students achieve lasting success in all of their endeavors.

A big thank you to our Supervisory Officer, Mr. Tom Steele, who had a vision of this workshop happening months ago and went to great lengths to ensure that it became a reality. And to Hendrkus, who spread a wonderful message of self-empowerment to all our Intermediate students while simultaneously taking them one step closer to becoming caring, informed citizens of the world. I look forward to when our paths cross again.

Emily Samuel
Grade 8 Teacher
Moosonee Public School

We would like to thank all of the students, teachers, and administrators from both the Moosonee Public School in Moosonee, Ontario, and the Ministik Public School in Moose Factory, Ontario, for their support, and the enthusiasm they've shown for our work. We are all touched and looking forward to our next opportunity to work in both communities.

Read about our previous trips to Moosonee and Moose Factory.

A Circle Assembly Exhibit - Art for AIDS International returns from Moosonee [SLIDESHOW]

The following post was written by Alex Kruger, Art for AIDS International student intern.

Students at an Art for AIDS Assembly at the Northern Lights Secondary School

Hendrikus Bervoets, Executive Director of Art for AIDS International, recently returned from a trip to Moosonee, Ontario, sponsored by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, where he hosted an art and HIV awareness workshop and assembly with the staff and students at Northern Lights Secondary School.

“I've traveled to many different parts of the world with Art for AIDS,” Hendrikus notes, “but none of them were like this experience.”

Beginning with a 4:00 AM wake up time in London Ontario and a solid 8 hours of travel, Hendrikus arrived in chilly but beautiful Moosonee Ontario, a small community located at the base of the James Bay, where he made his way to the Northern Lights Secondary School to plan for the following day's assembly and workshop.

“From the beginning of when I walked into the school, they had this large lobby, and I just had a feeling that was where [the exhibit] had to be,” Hendrikus recounts of his initial thoughts of the school. “It had light coming down from the ceiling and I kept thinking that the exhibit needed to be in a circle.” While this was the first time Hendrikus had ever conducted an exhibit in circle form, the symbol,with neither a beginning nor an end, was perfect for capturing its participants’ energy.Read more

Art for AIDS International Travels to Moosonee Ontario!

Driving on an ice road from Moosonee to Moose Factory is just one of the many exciting events in store for Hendrikus Bervoets, the Founder and Executive Director of Art for AIDS International.  Thanks to a wonderful sponsorship from the Ontario Teachers Federation, Hendrikus will be travelling to Moosonee, Ontario from February 9th to 11th to host art and HIV/AIDS awareness workshops with the staff and students at Northern Lights Secondary School. With six different countries and close to 250 schools under his belt, he is pleased to be working with the Moosonee community for the first time.

“For a long time now I have wanted to work with First Nations communities in Canada, and for us to now finally be able to do this puts a smile on my face,” says Hendrikus. “Further, I hope to go back later this year and celebrate our new relationship with the Moosonee Community with the opening of an exhibit featuring all of the artwork that has been produced by the participants.”

While in Moosonee, Hendrikus will be hosting a introductory event, and a series of art and HIV/AIDS awareness workshops for students and faculty from the Northern Lights Secondary School.

Hendrikus and all of the volunteers from Art for AIDS International would like to thank the Ontario Teachers’ Federation who kindly sponsored the event. We are all grateful for the opportunity to expand our workshop program in Canada and work with a group of students who would be out of our reach geographically if not for OTF's generous sponsorship.

Stay tuned for more details, as well as photos from the workshops in the coming weeks. All of our photos will be available on Art for AIDS International's Facebook page.