The Vancouver DUDES Club has been active since 2010. It began as an initiative to promote health awareness among Aboriginal men of the Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. With so few programs tailored to men’s needs, it has expanded to respond to the demand from many men in the community.

Health topic discussions at the Vancouver DUDES Club are driven primarily through peer-support and facilitated by Elders, guest speakers, physicians, psychologists, and public health nurses. Gatherings are accompanied with hot meals, activities and haircuts organized by the Dudes, which help to build a sense of brotherhood, solidarity and spirituality.

With support from Movember, the DUDES Club launched an evaluation of their program in 2014. The Vancouver-based research team is also committed to sharing the model with other interested communities as part of their extension project.

Whether ice fishing or tossing the chicken, Northern dudes know that humour is good medicine. Three dudes clubs go live in Northern British Columbia.

As of January 2015, the Vancouver team is supporting three distinct communities in British Columbia to each establish and run their own unique men’s group based upon the DUDES Club model in Vancouver. These sites include 1) Prince George, an urban city centre within a rural context; 2) Smithers, a rural town; and 3) Moricetown, a remote First Nations community. The Vancouver Team recently returned from site visits to the new DUDES clubs launching in Northern BC.

“Our research team is excited to share that the men’s groups in all communities are gradually growing in numbers of men with each group being carried forward by a smaller group of core members” shared project manager Viviane Josewski.

At each of the three sites, the men’s groups are encouraged to select a local Elder who is committed to the men, can provide important guidance to the group, and reports back to the research team in Vancouver. In Prince George, Rod George accepted the honour, and Steve Monds is the group’s elder in Smithers. Moricetown is expected to announce their group’s official Elder shortly as well.

All of the community groups are striving to hold their “Dudes Club” on a bi-weekly basis. With such regular meetings, the men had already gathered a multitude of stories describing both similarities and unique features of their Dudes Club meetings. For example, while both groups have evolved around men’s interest in health and mental health issues, such as anger management, depression, grief and loss, the men’s group in Smithers has shifted to alternating the meeting content between health discussions and social activities.

On a recent social outing in Smithers, the men hosted a fantastic day of ice fishing – even though no fish were caught! As the group shares, humour is good medicine. Even when the experiences discussed by the group are somber, laughter is guaranteed once the next man catches the fake stuffed chicken that serves as the talking stick for the group.