What do Alvera Solomon-Johnston, Earl Frimeth, Rodney Bobiwash, Len Beamish, Melanie Omeniho’s family, Don Marshall, Leah Train and Elijah Harper all have in common?
Unfortunately, they all passed away as a result of complications due to diabetes. There are both Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals in this list.
Diabetes is an insidious disease and does not recognize the cultural background of its victims.
However, it plagues Aboriginals in Canada at rates up to five times higher than the rest of the non-Aboriginal Canadian population. Health projects across the country are attempting to bring those numbers down.
These projects require funding!
The beginnings and history of PADDLE:
The Aboriginal Heritage Festival in Fergus was founded by myself (Jack Frimeth) and Naomi Smith (Chippewas of Nawash). The first event was a one day gathering at Centre Wellington District High School in March 2011. It was called Native Heritage Day.
The Festival then moved to the Wellington County Museum, where it expanded to two days (Friday and Saturday). It was held in April 2012 and most recently April 2013. The Festival is an educational and cultural event that is inclusive of all three Aboriginal groups in Canada. It started with and has continued to have an association with SOADI (Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative).
Admission to the Festival is by donation and all monies collected are in turn donated to SOADI.
These monies are used to help promote a new initiative called, PADDLE (Paddle Against Diabetes Display Love for Earth).
In July 2012, SOADI, under the direction of Crystal MacDonald, and myself (Jack Frimeth) initiated the program on 2 levels.
The first was a COMMUNITY PADDLE.
This event took place on the Grand River at Six Nations. It was well attended and tremendously successful. Approximately 30 people (mostly families) paddled together for two hours then discussed healthy active living. Natural, healthy foods were provided by SOADI. It is hoped that these community PADDLE’s will become popular amongst other communities in Canada in an effort to increase awareness of diabetes and promote active living.
The second was MY PERSONAL CANOE TRIP FUND RAISER.
In July 2012, I soloed the Kattawagami River to Moose Factory and all
monies raised went to the Weeneebayko Diabetes Health Unit in Moose Factory.
In July 2013, I will be going solo down the remote Notakwanon River in northern Labrador and finishing at the community of Natuashish (nee Davis Inlet). This will entail driving from Guelph Ontario to Sept Iles Quebec and taking the Tshiuetin Railway to Schefferville Quebec. I will then fly in by float plane to the headwaters of the Notakwanon in Labrador.
All monies raised will be donated to the Natuashish Diabetes Health Unit.
Diabetes is an especially significant problem in Natuashish.
Many local families have lost loved ones as a result of diabetes.
If you are interested in the PADDLE initiative either at the level of trying to organize a COMMUNITY PADDLE or would like to DONATE to the Natuashish Health Unit, please contact me or go directly to the PayPal page.
Thank you for taking the time and interest to read this!