Keeping “DUDES” connected during the pandemic

By: Danielle Perras, Communications advisor, Canadian Red Cross

To note, the photos included in this blog were taken pre-COVID.
“The primary goal of our work is to increase social connectedness,” explains Frank Cohn, director of DUDES Club, a British Columbia-based non-profit organization that promotes men’s health and wellness, particularly among Indigenous communities.
The self-described brotherhood focuses on activities that are centred around cultural-based teachings and traditions, connecting with mentors and Elders, and breaking down stigma and barriers associated with western medicine.
 Photo of DUDES Club
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the suspension of in-person gatherings and, like many other non-profits, the organization was forced to adapt its approach to helping communities.
Hoping to expand its digital presence to help keep men connected during this challenging time, DUDES Club applied for funding through the Canadian Red Cross Emergency Support for Community Organizations program.
“We know that when social connections are improved for men, their health improves as a result,” says Cohn. “This includes connections to community, culture, language and most importantly, connections to each other.”
With funding in hand, the organization was able to facilitate a smooth transition from in-person gatherings and activities to online community support. This allowed for meaningful gatherings to continue at a time when it’s easy to feel isolated and alone.
 Photo of DUDES Club
“We want to acknowledge that the support from the Red Cross has helped us grow our capabilities and our capacity exponentially,” says Teka Evestz, national coordinator for DUDES Club. “We are seeing healthy growth and our engagement numbers are rising, especially within the youth demographic. There is a continuous want and need for further ways to engage with these men.”
DUDES Club is open to all individuals who self-identify as men. Initially established in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside 10 years ago, the organization has expanded and formed partnerships with the First Nations Health Authority and the Provincial Health Services Authority. The Club now works with more than 500 people, in 42 communities. All gatherings (more than 10,000 and counting) and groups across the province are facilitated by DUDES Club but are led by men from the community for others who live there.  
While the organization used to travel to communities for support, training, and coaching, it is now able to provide the same services via online forums to help keep these DUDES connected.  
For more information on DUDES Club visit
The Canadian Red Cross is funding this project thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund granting program.
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