An American Indian film company is doing its part to fight the diabetes epidemic in the Native American community. Conquering Diabetes Naturally — The American Indian Warrior Diet is currently in development by Rich-Heape Films and the Sovereign Nation Preservation Project. Rich-Heape Films president Steven Heape says Type II diabetes is being report in children as young as the eight-to-twelve age group. A large percentage of Indian children in this group are also chronically overweight, Heape adds. Diabetes is an incurable chronic condition of high blood sugar caused by too little insulin, resistance to insulin, or both.

Native Americans affected by diabetes have six times the national average rate of kidney failure, 15 to 40 times the risk of leg amputation and three to four times higher risk of foot amputation. In Cree territory, the incidence of diabetes is estimated at 16 to 17 per cent of the population. Quebec recently declared a diabetes epidemic after an estimated three per cent of Quebecers have the disease.

The film will focus on the havoc diabetes is bringing to the Native American community and the struggle faced by those fighting the disease. It will be made available to Native health clinics and hospitals at little or no cost.

“We have been making films that preserve American Indian heritage and now we are making a film that will save American Indian lives,” says Heape, adding that education is the best weapon we have for fighting this disease.

A group of dedicated Cree are doing their own bit for diabetes awareness. More than 40 members of various Eeyou Istchee communities are currently on an epic walk, and have covered over half the territory to publicize the diabetes challenge facing the Cree.