Improving the Health of First Nations Peoples

Friday, June 7, 2013

Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) has united with the Anishinabek Nation to combat cancer. The formal relationship protocol was signed June 5 in Munsee-Delaware Nation. This protocol is a key priority of CCO’s Aboriginal Cancer Strategy II (ACS II), and is an agreement that sets a new course for a collaborative relationship between CCO and First Nation, Inuit and Metis (FNIM) communities.

In Ontario, cancer patterns differ significantly between First Nations, Inuit and Metis populations and the general Ontario population. Cancer incidence is increasing among First Peoples and their cancer survival rates are worse than for other Ontarians.  CCO recognizes the unique needs of   FNIM peoples, and this protocol provides clarity and certainty about how CCO will work with their communities to implement the ACS II priorities.  

“There is a clear need to address the rising burden of cancer among First Nations citizens and CCO is committed to implementing its cancer control strategy to support them,” says Michael Sherar, President and CEO, Cancer Care Ontario.  “To be successful we need strong community partnerships, and this protocol symbolizes our commitment to engaging First Nations leaders in the process.”

Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee said the Anishinabek Nation’s political secretariat – the Union of Ontario Indians – has a primary mandate to protect the interests of its 60,000 citizens. “Whether it’s advancing political positions or ensuring that the Anishinabek have all the information they need to lead healthy, productive lives, we are committed to working with partners who share our goals.”

“We know that First Nations peoples, including the Anishinabek, have unique healthcare needs and by signing the protocol, we are agreeing to work together to tackle this challenging issue,” says Alethea Kewayosh, Director, Aboriginal Cancer Control Unit, Cancer Care Ontario.

The ACS II was developed to reduce new cancer cases and improve the quality of life for those living with cancer amongst First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. The six strategic priorities of the ACS II are: building productive relationships, research and surveillance, prevention, screening, supportive care and education.

Neil Johnson, Regional Vice-President, South West Regional Cancer Program says, “We are honoured to be among one of the first regional cancer programs in the province to solidify this partnership and look forward to working alongside the First Nations citizens to ensure cancer services are targeted to the needs of the population.”

Click here to learn more about the Aboriginal Cancer Strategy II.
Photo: Michael Sherar, President and CEO at Cancer Care Ontario (left) and Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee from the Anishinabek Nation sign the relationship protocol on June 5.