Sweet Bloods: Indigenous Pathways to Health

 In NCI News

“In the late ’80s, Simon was out on the territory, stake-claiming with a friend. Snowshoes strapped on, he was trudging through the snow, and he was thirstier than he had ever been in his life. He had no energy at all. Sure, he had gone a bit soft around the gut, but he was still an athletic man whose body had always done what he had told it to do. Now he had to guzzle jug after jug of juice just to keep going, and his friend was up ahead waiting for Simon to catch up.”

(The Sweet Bloods of Eeyou Istchee: Stories of Diabetes and the James Bay Cree)

Simon was soon diagnosed with diabetes, a heartless disease where the pancreas does not create enough insulin to stabilize sugars in the bloodstream.

It is no secret that diabetes has a much higher incidence in Indigenous communities everywhere, and Manitoba is no exception.  Indigenous peoples are diagnosed with diabetes at a younger age, have worse symptoms when diagnosed, face higher rates of complications, and more troubling outcomes than other people.  Here are some statistics on the prevalence of diabetes:

  • 17.2% among First Nations individuals living on-reserve,
  • 12.7% among First Nations individuals living off-reserve,
  • 4.7% among Inuit people, and
  • 9.9% among Métis people,
  • 5.0% of the general population




Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Very thirsty and hungry
  • Needing to pee a lot, often at night
  • Blurry vision
  • Numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Often very tired
  • Very dry skin
  • Sores that heal slowly
  • Get infections easily
  • source here





Indigenous Paths that Walk Hand in Hand with Western Medicine


Without a doubt, medical care is necessary for diabetes, but there are ways to heal and bring balance in your body.   Talking Circles are one way.


Talking Circles are a time of sharing and healing; something that happens in community.  The James Bay Cree of northern Quebec are fighting against diabetes in their own way – with a Talking Circle in print!  Collected like precious gems, the stories in The Sweet Bloods of Eeyou Istchee: Stories of Diabetes and the James Bay Cree are about life in the North connected by the theme of diabetes.  These people are strong, real, and never victims.  The stories are meant to help people heal and support the collective journey of Indigenous people.


Copies of The Sweet Bloods of Eeyou Istchee: Stories of Diabetes and the James Bay Cree are FREE for individuals and organizations in Canadian First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, traditional territories, and reserves. Click here to receive your free copy.


Lifestyle Health

You can help yourself!  Diabetes responds well to lifestyle changes.   Eating well-balanced meals at consistent intervals will help to keep your blood sugars constant.  This image shows a healthy meal with ½ the plate vegetable and fruits, ¼ of the plate is protein, and ¼  whole grains.



Keeping active is another great way to help control diabetes and improve your outcomes.  Walking just 30 minutes a day can help you lose weight, improve your heart condition, and manage your blood sugars.


I Need a Doctor?

If you have the symptoms above it is critical to your health that you consult with a doctor!  The longer you leave diabetes untreated the more it destroys your body.

Don’t let distance be a barrier!  If you need to consult with a doctor and you live far from the doctor’s office you can make an appointment with a virtual doctor, for free with your MB health card.  Go to www.SabeWellness.ca to book today!



Native Women’s Association of Canada Diabeites-Toolkit

National Indigenous Diabetes Association on Facebook

Diabetes Canada Information

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