Diabetes is a Pandemic

November 15, 2017


Aboriginal peoples living in Canada are among the highest risk populations for diabetes and related complications. Community-based and culturally appropriate prevention strategies and surveillance of diabetes indicators among this high risk population are essential to reducing health disparities.” 



If you identify as having an Indigenous background, then chances are you know someone or maybe even a few people that are living with diabetes. The Diabetes Education Program at De dwa da dehs nye>s seeks to empower Indigenous people living with diabetes. We have a medicine wheel approach to enable community members to win this fight with the strengths they have, building more strength along the way.  It is no small feat to truly understand and acknowledge how the constant assault of generations of systemic injustice have undermined our community’s health.

As part of Healthy Living  Department at De dwa da dehs nye>s,  our educational approach to health  has taken a wider perspective to encompass the mental, the physical, the spiritual and the emotional.  Relationships are paramount and it sets the stage for the many conversations that we have with our clients. When people enter the program, we have a comprehensive risk assessment on their layered risks to health that goes beyond the conventional diet and exercise mantra; we listen to them and explore them with them.

People are led to investigate their own belief systems, their personality traits, look at the roles of stress and trauma and even begin to think about the way they sleep (to name a few areas). We examine with our patients the power of  preventing and managing disease in the body lies in lifestyle, your personality, having sense of purpose and spirituality, being around people who share the same beliefs and creating the right environment to succeed with your community and family.

Traditional healing services are available as an additional resource as a part of our circle of care to help clients with their trauma and allow for different approaches to their personalized plan of care. As part of a new approach to community programming at the centre, health promotion and the diabetes team have joined together to develop different way of empowering our client to learn more and manage better respecting and knowing the truth of what Indigenous people have faced in this country. What does this have to do with diabetes? You may not think that the past is not playing out in our present day clinics.  I can tell you that it is. There can an element of mistrust in mainstream clinical settings.

Diabetes is complex. Everyone who has this disease should be a member of a Diabetes Education Program. The program is geared to educate people in a comprehensive way that a six minute visit falls short.

Contribution by Anastasia Blackey & Christine Patterson of De Dwa Da Dehs Nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre http://dahac.ca/

For more information about submitting a Community Guest Blog please contact Sherry Meilleur, Community Relations Coordinator smeilleur@aptn.ca