Since 1997, the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative has been leading the way throughout Ontario in the pursuit for Indigenous health and wellness. Our passionate team vision is that ‘Indigenous peoples have the tools, knowledge and ability to make healthy choices and live free of diabetes now and in future generations’.
In Canada, Indigenous people suffer from Type 2 diabetes at rates much higher than the general population. We are also seeing an increased number of young children diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and women diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Factors such as general diabetes awareness, geographic location, transportation, income and support system, greatly impact access to resources and proper care. Often times, Indigenous people move from diagnosis to insulin very quickly. Given the alarming presence of diabetes and its complications in our Indigenous communities, SOADI has been diligent about exerting efforts to provide a framework under which to offer guidance and support.
Over the years, we have realized many changes within our community-based programs and services, naturally moving toward a more elaborate and inclusive approach to holistic wellness as it pertains to diabetes prevention, diabetes management, and day to day healthy living for everyone in the circle.
When generating services and resources for our communities, we consider the various stages of the lifecycle so that all community members can relate in some way to the messages we are sharing. In this way, we continue to ensure the suitability and effectiveness of what we develop and present. Utilizing the umbrella of holistic wellness, SOADI services and resources are produced and offered in a body, mind and spirit approach.
Our Circle of Care Program falls under the “body” sector of wellness and aims to provide foot care services to Indigenous people that are affected by or at risk of diabetes and its complications. With the provision of education, self-care resources, professional screening, ongoing care and referrals through our many holistic foot care events, we are able to remind people of their own personal determination and encourage them to view foot care and general holistic self care as important and time-worthy priorities.
The Family Wellness Worker Program addresses the “mind” sector of wellness and promotes diabetes awareness from an Indigenous perspective through several resources and services. Healthy eating, exercise, stress management (i.e. peace finding), and diabetes awareness are a few examples of informative presentations that are offered through the Family Wellness Worker Program, along with the practical aspect of each which allows participants to actively engage in the activities. We promote the cultivation of knowledge, but also the importance of applying it to produce positive health outcomes.
The last SOADI program component and identified by the “spirit” sector of wellness, is our Traditional Knowledge Program. By combining current mainstream diabetes education with traditional wisdom that consists of First Nations, Inuit and Metis influences, we have brought many health and wellness training opportunities to Indigenous frontline workers and organizations. When addressing health and wellness, we strive to provide culturally influenced content so that frontline workers are inspired to make advancements in their own wellness journey and just as importantly, empower their community members and clients in a safe, culturally sensitive learning environment.
When designing and delivering frontline worker training within the Traditional Knowledge Program, SOADI seeks to include traditional knowledge and teachings.
Through continued avid efforts to promote and embody holistic health and wellness, SOADI remains an effective leader in educating and engaging the community with diabetes awareness and healthy living initiatives that address our “whole” being. As such, we deeply appreciate the participation and feedback of the many brilliant partnering agencies and community members we work with and have yet to cross paths with on our journey forward.
For more information please visit our website at www.soadi.ca. Nya:weh, Miigwetch, Thank you.