Yesterday, in the most read story in PositiveLite.com history, we broke news of the bombshell letter from three Canadian AIDS Society (CAS) staff members who broke ranks to criticize CAS leadership for a litany of failings. You can read that story, which includes the letter they wrote plus our editorial, here.
What has happened since?
- CAS member organizations have remained silent, at least publically.
- The three staff members report an outpouring of support from community members
- The Canadian Positive People Network (CPPN), following a weekend teleconference requested with the three, issued a letter fully supporting their position, addressed to CAS board chair Gary Lacasse, and shared with the HIV community.
- CAS Chair Gary Lacasse sends a letter addressed to "Members and the CAS Family" refuting some of the allegations and offering a meeting between the the CAS chair, vice-chair and the three staffers. (Notably, the "CAS Family" appears to exclude CPPN, PositveLiite.com or any others representing the community pf people living with HIV)
- The CAS chair has also made contact with the three staffers and a meeting is being inegotiated on terms acceptable to both sides.
- 24 members of the Ontario AIDS Network endorse a letter calling for the resignation of yhe CAS CEO.
PositveLite.com is following this developing story closely and will respect in-camera discussions. In the meantime, because this is a matter of public interest, the letter from CCPN to Lacasse is reproduced below.
October 6, 2015
To Mr. Gary Lacasse (
Board Chair, Canadian AIDS Society
RE: Open letter to CAS Members (past and present), people living with, at risk of, and affected by HIV/AIDS, and friends of CAS
We have read with interest and some sadness this weekend’s letter from Kim, Lynne and Jeff. It has received wide circulation within the community of people living with HIV and has provoked much thought and discussion already. That is good.
First we would like to comment on how we foresee the role of CPPN/RCPS in looking at solutions. As you know we are an independent organization by and for people living with HIV. As such we have a stake in how our issues are handled. We position ourselves as another and equal voice at the table, along with yourselves and the other national partners. We stress partners and not rivals.
Our role is not to take away anything from CAS but rather contribute to its effectiveness. In particular we support continuation of the PHA Forum, an annual event whose worth some consider has been diminished over the years, but nevertheless is important to our movement, with the potential to do great work, even transform lives. We don’t want to lose it.
This weekend’s open letter is a call for help, for community consultation in its most comprehensive and inclusive form. We are ready, willing and able to be part of that process.
From our perspective, Kim, Lynne and Jeff should not be censured but rather lauded for their bravery in bringing their views to the community and to yourselves.
Many of us are very familiar with the problems that currently exist at CAS, as documented in their letter. Some of us saw what happened at the last AGM and are convinced the letter writers are correct that radical changes need to occur, including in leadership, to turn things around and return CAS to a place of respect and influence in the community.
The three writers’ commitment to what they believe in and the manner in which they have expressed it is unparalleled. We support 100% everything they have said to you.
Please give them an audience. It will mean a lot to them, to us and to the community as a whole. They have served you well now and in the past and I know are passionate about wishing to continue doing so.
For our part CPPN very much wishes to be part of the drive to see a renewed, relevant and revitalized CAS regain its place at the forefront of the response to HIV in Canada, along with ourselves, the other national partners and all who have the interests of people living with HIV close to their heart. This is in the spirit of continuance of the history of HIV activism in Canada, including empowerment of people living with HIV and giving them a voice, key principles that were truly the underlying foundation for the formation of CAS.
We stand in solidarity with you. We seek a strong articulate response to HIV in Canada, perhaps now more than ever before. CAS needs to be part of that response.
The letter writers say “We want to work with you to develop a responsible plan for moving forward.” We do too. Let’s all work together on this to produce something quite magnificent.
Emerald Gibson – Chairperson
Canadian Positive People Network