Summary of Qualifications
Relevant Work Experience
Communication Skill Set
Administrative Skill Set
Photographic Skill Set
Social Media Skills Set
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
She’s a healthy sexuality worker for the HIV/ AIDS Resource Program at the Group Health Centre.
The program reaches out to high-risk individuals, family and friends. Jolie delves into topics honestly and effectively.
When not embroidering feminists quotes — a typically feminine act that she finds empowering — or making her new house a home with her partner Zac, her two dogs and, Richard, the best cat in the world — Jolie provides education and support for local individuals infected, affected, or at risk by HIV/AIDS and related issues.
“We are spreading a harm reduction and sex positive approach, educating people about sex in a way that is more inclusive of the LGBT community and meeting people where they are at,” said Jolie.
“Appreciating the fact that sex is healthy and normal — so to explore those things from a healthy sexuality point of view — we want folks to be aware of their own boundaries and we want to ensure they are making informed choices.”
The program will provide condoms, lube, a dental dam; “we do whatever we can ... to make resources available and to ensure that people know how to use them,” Jolie said.
“Keeping an open dialogue about what works best for the individual, this is where the sex positive aspect comes in.
“It’s important for them to be in an environment where there is no shame or guilt surrounding their sexual expression.”
Jolie has a degree in Sociology from Algoma U. and a Bachelor of Education from York and is working on a masters degree from Lakehead University in Social Justice and Equity. Her thesis is fat pedagogy, the oppression of people based on their size.
Jolie is looking at how this plays out in schools.
She encourages discussions geared toward changing how we talk about bodies and body size and how we can be healthy at every size.
“It’s imperative that we make the shift from ‘a thin body is a healthy body’ and focus on creating more options for a healthy body.”
Her sociology studies led to her interest in the process of education and “schooling” and their effect on the children.
“Students spend a lot of time in educational institutions, so making these spaces more equitable for kids is really important because it can be so detrimental when their needs are not being met and this isn’t a positive experience for them,” she said.
Her interests lie in working with secondary students though she has a background with primary children.
Study in social justice/equity built the foundation to the understanding of systemic barriers and how they play out in institutions.
They translated well into working in the HIV world, for Jolie.
“Working in the community, I sort of tripped and fell into this job, because of the past experience that I had working with marginalized folks at the Community Hubs run through the YMCA and Sault Ste. Marie Housing Corp.,” she said.
This ultimately brought her, as an educator, into a health care job.
“We have a lot of discussion surrounding stigma, because this is a huge issue that still continues in the community — fear and misunderstanding that really speak to old ideas of what HIV and AIDS are/were,” said Jolie.
Government statistics indicate increasing risk of HIV/AIDS. Sault Ste. Marie is on par with other communities regarding their prevalence, she said.
More shocking to her is that people often dismiss the ailments, stating that they are unaffected — but that’s because they don’t see or know anyone who is HIV positive, she said.
“Kids are not getting the inclusion in sexual education when it comes to sharing identities, and sexualities and the diversities that exist.
“There is a huge miscommunication and a big piece missing between what they need and what they are getting — for a lot of reasons.”
Jolie sees “a lack of understanding and comfort in discussing diversity and possibly a lack of knowledge; these things are not being addressed in teachers college.”
The new curriculum has sparked a lot of controversy, she said. “People put a lot of morality and values on teaching diversities that exist — especially in the queer communities.”
All students need the information, Jolie said. Whether the young people are directly affected or not, “isn’t a call we can make as teachers.
“We don’t know our students sexual identities; this might not be something that is disclosed and this shouldn’t be important because we are a community and we all need to have the knowledge to support each other regardless of where we are coming from.”
The information is critical and generally useful and especially to “the folks who need to hear it and they might not be self-identifying in schools,” she said.
“Children who don’t have knowledge are at a major risk over parts of their sexual behaviour that they don’t understand or how they are protecting themselves,” Jolie said.
“Ongoing discussions are going to make the biggest difference.”
She explained the importance for children of open communication.
They should be able to come home with the questions that they have and be met with enthusiasm to continue to learn.
The harm isn’t in not having the answer, but rather the harm is in shutting down the conversation and saying this isn’t something to talk about or isn’t something that applies, Jolie said.
She advises parent to continue to learn with their children and to access the accurate and supportive resources available to them.
“Oftentimes when we don’t understand something or it is not within our personal beliefs, we become afraid of it,” she said.
“Oftentimes when it’s a new experience we meet it with apprehension and rather than just sitting with it for a minute and instead of looking at what our options are to continue to learn or dispel some of it, we just shut down the conversation.
“These are things that happen to real people that are happening in the world and in our community and they can really negatively affect someone’s life,” Jolie said.
“Everybody needs to matter.”