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Lolo: In Significance

Lolo: In Significance

I descend from a maternal line of women with zany senses of humour. Their raucous laughter was energizing, creative and amusing, and they were larger-than-life characters. From these grand, generous and gregarious gals I inherited deep interest in people and their wellbeing. While I have been employed in the caring professions, no doubt influenced by these formidable foremothers, my natural habitat is in circumstances of refracted rather than bright light. An ethnographer by day, I spend time listening, lurking, pondering and observing. Specifically, I am captivated by and genuinely interested in the stories that we, ordinary, everyday people, tell about our lives. Therein lies much learning and wisdom. In understanding the often taken-for-granted circumstances of our lives, we bear witness with humility. There is a promise of transcendence in this exercise. 

I am an HIV importer. I brought this infection back to Canada after living, working and, alas, loving overseas. Thankfully I am a citizen. Had I not been, the possibility of returning for care and treatment would have been shut. Ms. ELISA and her companion Mr. Western Blot changed my life and its direction. My coming out as a positive woman occurred through my address at a Canadian AIDS Society PHA Forum a decade ago when I was in my thirties. I owe my life to supporters who cradled me in early days after diagnosis. I am indebted to caring souls who have more recently guided me to understand the ebbs and flows of anxiety and depression. They help me cultivate knowledge about and a language to express such ideas as acceptance, compassion, patience and guiltless self-care. I am sad that HIV stood in the way of becoming a mother. I am troubled that the movement and migration of people with HIV continue to be fettered in certain contexts. I am haunted that while I can thrive, my former lover, who suffered, withered and died, could not. This is evidence that socio-political boundaries and legal geographies kill.


In contributing to, I seek to connect the dots between the personal and political by exploring the issues gestured toward above, among others. To do this, I propose to deploy my ethnographic skills of listening, observing and analyzing to make the lineaments of everyday people’s lives visible; beginning, it might not surprise you, from the experiences of yours truly: the most ordinary of people!