One way to combat diabetes is to “walk it out of your life.” That’s according to the placard of one of the participants in November’s Eeyou Istchee-wide, 100-mile challenge in the fight against diabetes.
Scott Langdon, who went double the distance, said that one of the best ways to beat this disease is by exercise. “I lost a few pant sizes during the month so I was happy,” said Langdon, who reached the 200-mile mark by November 29 and then stopped counting.
Langdon has been working as a meat cutter at the Co-op in Chisasibi for the past 10 years.
“I am doing my part in fighting this disease. One of the big reasons is because my sister passed away at a young age. She was born with diabetes. And my other sister back in Newfoundland also has diabetes so I doubled the distance I walked for her.”
Over 500 people in Eeyou Istchee signed up for the walk, said Wally Rabbitskin, one of the organizers of the walk and the Program Officer for Public Health in Mistissini.
“It was a success and a lot of people completed the 100-mile challenge,” said Rabbitskin, whose portfolio includes physical activity,
This is the second annual challenge and the organizers are hoping it keeps getting better. Last year there was no coordinator for the event and numbers weren’t that high, but because more people were aware of the event this year, participation levels are expected to grow.
Diabetes awareness has been increasing every year and Rabbitskin believes the epidemic can be beat, but it’ll be up to the people.
“I think it’s something that people will continue to do on their own,” said Rabbitskin. “They made new friends and it brought the people together, especially the families. It’s nice to see parents walking with their kids. Hopefully they will continue on with their healthy lifestyle.”
The biggest support came from Waskaganish, where over 200 people signed up.
“With the diabetes epidemic exploding at an alarming rate, we need to work together,” said Solomon Awashish of the Cree Health Board. “We’re hoping with more publicity it will really help create awareness and prevention of diabetes in Eeyou Istchee. Walking is a Cree tradition and is the best physical activity people can do to prevent diabetes.”
Health Canada calls November Diabetes Awareness month, Awashish noted. “But we prefer to call it ‘Prevention Month.’ We figured people are pretty much aware of diabetes now and it is time for action and prevention.” Beulah Blueboy, 54, completed the task in 20 days. Although she doesn’t have diabetes, she said that she is walking for herself and her three sisters who do.
“My doctor told me to walk every day and that’s what |’ve been doing since June,” said Blueboy, who walks to and from the airport and in the village. “It’s good for me and I also make sure I watch what I eat too,” she said.
Three Cree Chiefs – Robert Weistche, David Masty and John Longchap – also registered for the challenge.
At press time, it was confirmed that two of them had completed their task. One of them was David Masty.
“Walking really helps me,” Masty said. “I have more strength in my legs now.”
Masty added that his diet mainly consists of traditional foods so he’s not as big of a risk as other people to contract the disease.
“I don’t have a strict diet, but I’m health conscious. Three years ago I stopped putting sugar in my tea and cut out salt,” he said. “Today I feel better and I’m not as heavy as I was.”