The success of Sadie’s Walk last year in raising diabetes awareness in the Cree communities has the Cree Health Board gearing up for this year already. Last year more than 10 per cent of the Cree population showed up to walk. The Health Board says its success was due to having all community groups show up.

“This year the walk will be even bigger,” predicted Sarah Cowboy, Chisasibi’s Community Health Representative.

Sadie’s Walk is an annual event for First Nations across Canada. It is held in memory of deceased diabetes project worker Sadie Muik. After a logging truck hit her car on Good Friday in 1996, other project workers held a walk in her honour. Today it has become an annual event where First Nations participate in solidarity with all those people living with diabetes.

Chisasibi’s Dr. Robert Harris says the Crees should be aware that they are at risk. Currently 800 Crees have been diagnosed with diabetes and the number is growing.
“In my clinic I see a new one every week,” said Harris. Studies say the actual number of people with diabetes is usually double the diagnosed cases. This means 800 more Crees could be walking around without realizing they have diabetes.

This is one of the reasons why the Diabetes Awareness and Action Network was created to help raise awareness of the Cree diabetes risks and what you can do about them. Harris said three things are important if you have diabetes: 1) you can control it through exercise, 2) good eating habits and nutrition are important and 3) control the stress in your life.

Cowboy agreed: “Let’s start taking control of our own health. We can’t always depend on doctors and nurses to tell us what to do.” Cowboy said she’s looking to see more people out at the walks this year. Cowboy said seeing so many people from all walks of life show up was great. “I was surprised and happy last year. I didn’t expect so many people,” she said. “This shows the traditional closeness is still out there in the Cree communities.” Each of the nine eastern James Bay Cree communities will be walking at or around Good Friday, April 2.