Healthy Living in the North

Tales from the Man Cave: The Dudes Club

Dudes Club

What do you think of a Dudes Club North?

Support groups for men are not all that common but the Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS) has one that has been very successful.

Recently a group of health and other professionals got together with men from the Dudes club and the physician from VNHS with a view to seeing if one could be started in the north.

What is the Dudes Club?

Well the “dudes” are: Downtown Urban-knights Displaying Equality and Solidarity.

We were at the Fire Pit Prince George recently and it was very pleasant atmosphere, friendly and welcoming.

The day started with breakfast followed by a prayer in English and Musqueam which reminded me of our common humanity and desire for unity and peace. At the table for this meeting of The Dudes Club initiative were people from the Vancouver Native Health Society and an array of local organizations. It was an all-inclusive Dudes gathering with a handful of women present. Humor flowed back and forth between everyone there.

The stories were very moving. One person told us that the Aboriginal survival rate from colonization was estimated to be 1 out of 10 – a heart wrenching statistic. One of the presenters was a man who spent a great deal of time on the streets of downtown eastside Vancouver. Dudes Club for him was a lifeline that allowed him to pull himself out of the quicksand.

Not just a shave and a haircut

This particular group of “Dudes” from the south started among the poorest of the poor in downtown eastside but it quickly expanded to include men from other socioeconomic groups. Their group is large – it has a regular attendance of around 70 and meets bi-weekly. Its main focus is men’s health and was originally based on the black barber shop men’s groups from the US which combine haircuts and health care – typically blood pressure checks within the barbers’ shops, but also a lot more. These groups have been the focus of increasing research in the US.

In this club, barbers come to the group and provide free haircuts, while the group itself provides a healthy meal. There is a physician connected to the group and gradually men come to that source and have some of their health care needs met. Different activities take place including bingo, hockey, and Tai Chi as well as outdoor activities.

Taking health care to where the men are

The group can also separate into smaller focus groups. Although there are a great deal of activities provided, the group’s main aim is to provide a place where they can build solidarity and brotherhood and its key concept is to take healthcare to where the men are, build a strong sense of community and to gain a sense of pride and fulfillment.

Would a Dudes Club North be of value?

The folks around the table seemed to think so and thus a conversation begins, of which I will keep you posted.

What do you think?

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.