Diabetes wellness conference attendance jumps 100 percent

LEFT: Lindsey Cosh, foot care program coordinator with the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle displays one of the home care kits that each participant in the foot care clinic were able to bring home. photos by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT – The Manitoulin Diabetes Health Network’s biannual Diabetes Wellness Conference 2019 held November 7 at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre attracted over 100 participants, double the previous conference attendance totals.

“We are pretty happy with the turnout,” admitted Noojmowin Teg dietician Natalie Hastings. She explained that the conference is sponsored by the members of the Manitoulin Diabetes Health Network, an umbrella organization consisting of all of the diabetes programs on Manitoulin Island. “The goal of the conference is to bring community members living with diabetes or at risk together,” she said. “We have a number of speakers on traditional medicine, living with diabetes and practical tips like creating low glycemic meals.”

The first speaker of conference was Laurentian University School of Nursing professor Dr. Roger Pilon. Dr. Pilon is the author of ‘Promoting a Decolonized Model of Type II Diabetes. Diabetic Care for Aboriginal People Living Along the Northshore of Lake Huron.’

Dr. Pilon brought the results of a survey on the perceptions and attitudes and insights from his doctoral research towards traditional medicine to the participants.

“My goal is to let people know that some of us in the health care field are listening,” he said. “That there are allies in the field.” Dr. Pilon said that he hopes to shift the culture within the western biomedical approach to be more open to potential of traditional medicines.

“As an educator, I try to share with my students and my colleagues,” he said. “Some of us are listening.”

Dr. Pilon spoke on the impact of colonization and why “things are done the way they are being done.”

Participants in the conference took part in active living experiences such as Zumba and yoga sessions, while in the next room, a foot care clinic hosted by the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle was fully subscribed by the first hour of the conference.

“I really enjoyed the cooking class,” said attendee Laurie Cook. “I really learned a lot.”

Mary Stacey of Wiikwemkoong settles into the lounger as foot care specialist Rose Shawanda sets to work.