Some may have noticed red scarves suddenly appearing on lampposts and landmarks in Sturgeon Falls on December 1st. The scarves were distributed as part of The Red Scarf Project, an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign for World AIDS Day. Each garment had a card attached encouraging people to take a scarf and pass along the message about HIV and AIDS in Canada. It was a joint initiative between the West Nipissing Community Health Centre (WNCHC), its West Nipissing Knitting Circle program, and the AIDS Committee of North Bay & Area.
The event began at the WNCHC with some words from various delegates and volunteers. Among the speakers were mayor Kathleen Thorne Rochon on behalf of the municipality, Dr. Jean Anawati on behalf of the WNCHC board, Suzanne Louiseize on behalf of the Knitting circle and volunteers who work to make the event possible, and two representatives from the AIDS Committee of North Bay & Area who provided resources and information on HIV/AIDS.
Volunteers then went out and attached the scarves to lampposts all the way through the downtown portion of King Street, some on Main Street and some along the highway. Over 80 scarves were distributed, double the amount from last year. “Hopefully next year we can put up a little bit more,” says Renée Vaillancourt, Coordinator of Community Programs and Communications with the WNCHC.
Vaillancourt explains that this event takes a lot of work and planning and she gives credit to Suzanne Louiseize. It takes the whole year for the volunteers to knit the scarves, and Louiseize is already hard at work mobilizing them for next year’s event. “We start knitting in January and the scarves go up in December,” describes Louiseize. The Knitting Circle is one of several health promotion programs run out of the WNCHC, and they craft the bulk of the scarves that go out every year.