“Time capsules” so as not to forget people who have disappeared or are living with HIV-AIDS

“Time capsules” so as not to forget people who have disappeared or are living with HIV-AIDS
“Time capsules” so as not to forget people who have disappeared or are living with HIV-AIDS

Even though there are multiple conferences on HIV-AIDS, there are clinics specializing in HIV-AIDS treatments in Montreal and elsewhere in the province and many books have been written on this subject, among other things. , new generations are not necessarily aware of this epidemic which wreaked havoc in the 1980s-1990s. With the aim of not forgetting this past and this wave of deaths of gay men, mainly, Denis Cormier-Piché in collaboration with the Gay Archives of Quebec (AGQ) is relaunching the project of “HIV-AIDS time capsules: long-silenced stories “. HIV-positive people or those around them will be able to testify and these stories will be kept for 25 years, until these “time capsules” are opened.

We already spoke to you about it in January when we launched this project almost confidentially. But thanks to the federal government’s “New Horizons for Seniors” program, “we can relaunch this time capsule project in a more sustained manner,” says Pierre Pillotte, the AGQ coordinator. “The idea came to me from a poster at the Parc de l’Espoir during the 24th international AIDS conference, which was held in Montreal in July 2022,” explains Denis-Cormier Piché, who has been governor of the Fondation Émergence since 2016. There are plenty of private stories from people who lived through the AIDS period, who never revealed it or from people close to people who died from it. All these people can thus testify. […]»

But why this 25-year prescription, why wait until 2047 to use these capsules? “Out of modesty, out of respect, because some have never told their family, their parents, etc. It’s simply to free speech. There are no legal or technical questions here, just to free up the floor, for people to testify and I know there are going to be so many. Because it can be that emotional for a person to do it. […] It is a duty to remember, so as not to forget these people. It will be very touching, that’s for sure,” continues Denis Cormier-Piché who also works on various projects linked to 2SLGBTQ+ realities at UdeM, Concordia, Laval University, INRS and INESS/Table digital health.

And who will be able to have access to such documents? “Everyone will be able to have access to it, the general public who is interested in this question, doctors, students, researchers, authors too perhaps, etc.,” underlines Denis Cormier-Piché. We want it to be available to as wide an audience as possible at that time.” How can this project be of particular interest to the Quebec Gay Archives? “We found it to be a good project because it fits into our mandate to collect archives on the past of LGBTQ+ communities. We fully support Denis Cormier-Piché in his efforts to make these time capsules known and to involve people in this duty of memory,” indicates Pierre Pilotte.

“I thank the Archives for choosing me to work on this initiative,” says Denis Cormier-Piché who proposed these capsules last year and who planned the various stages. To participate, the formula is very simple, in fact it’s everything that can fit into a No 10 envelope (9.5 inches/24cm x 4.25 inches/10.5cm), that is to say poems, texts, drawings, photos, images, or USB key (digital media, video, etc.). “This idea came to me from the Ministry of Justice, whereas in a trial, we can present something to the court, we will then open such an envelope to read its contents. At the same time, everyone can use such an envelope, so it’s not complicated,” adds Denis Cormier-Piché. To send it, everything is listed on the AGQ website.

As part of Montreal Pride, next August, the Archives will offer four evenings of screenings at Parc de l’Espoir (corner of Panet and Sainte-Catherine). Thanks to a grant from Montreal Heritage, we will essentially screen three subjects: Act Up Montreal demonstrations, HIV-AIDS prevention posters and quotes. “During these evenings, two people from the AGQ will be on site to also distribute material on the time capsules and will encourage people to participate,” adds Pierre Pilotte. This material will also be offered during Montreal Pride Community Day, at the Archives kiosk, on Saturday, August 10.”

But all this is conditional, taking for granted that the Quebec Gay Archives will still exist in a quarter of a century, for the opening of these envelopes, otherwise what will happen? “We could potentially bequeath them to the Bibliothèque et Archives nationaux du Québec (BAnQ) which will take possession of them and anyone will be able to have access to them in 25 years if the AGQ will no longer be there […]», believes Denis Cormier-Piché. Eventually, other activities related to this project will be revealed; you will need to monitor the details on the AGQ website.

INFO | If you decide to participate in this project, you will be given an information and consent form. All the details are at the following address: http://agq.qc.ca/capsules-temporelles-vih-sida/

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