Garry Sugarhead completes 700 km diabetes awareness walk
Tim Brody - Editor
On May 30, Garry Sugarhead of Kingfisher Lake First Nation began a 700 kilometre journey from Pickle Lake to Thunder Bay to raise diabetes awareness.
Sugarhead completed his journey on June 13, arriving in Thunder Bay where he was welcomed by First Nations leaders and health officials.
“We are proud of Garry and we support his efforts to raise awareness about the terrible impacts of diabetes in our communities. Far too many of our people suffer from complications associated with diabetes and are forced to leave their communities to access treatment,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox. “Everyone in NAN territory is affected by diabetes, and I recently lost my mother to complications from this disease. We will continue to advocate for more education, and prevention services, and for increased access to treatment in our communities that will allow those affected to be cared for closer to their families.”
Sugarhead is calling on both the federal and provincial governments to work with Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) to provide more diabetes services in the North.
“Our people have been devastated by diabetes and we need more done to help prevent it. We all have family members and friends that have left this world too soon because of this awful disease,” said Sugarhead. “I believe that with changes such as the creation of walking trails to promote exercise, moving away from processed foods towards our traditional ones, and treatment in our communities we can begin to see relief. It is my hope that together we combat this disease.”
“Services for diabetes treatment and prevention are included in NAN’s approach on Health Transformation, a broad-ranging initiative that will see First Nations take control of health care in their communities.
“Type two diabetes has been reported in 21.6 per cent of First Nations people living on-reserve, far above the rate (4.8%) of those living off-reserve, according to a 2016 report by the Canadian Diabetes Association. A 2013 report found the prevalence of diabetes in Indigenous people as much as five times higher than non-Indigenous Ontarians,” a NAN news release informed.
Sugarhead has completed other walks, raising awareness for issues including drug and alcohol abuse in remote First Nations in 2017 and suicide awareness in 2015.