The Lawson Foundation has a long history of supporting work in diabetes. While important progress has been made on a number of fronts, diabetes continues to be an epidemic in Canada and around the world. Today, more than 11 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes – and rates are on the rise, with type 2 diabetes in Indigenous youth recognized as the fastest growing pediatric chronic disease in the world. For First Nations individuals at 20 years of age in Canada, the lifetime risk of diabetes is about 80%.
Given the magnitude of the challenge and our commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the Foundation has narrowed its Child & Youth Diabetes Strategy to focus on the prevention of type 2 diabetes and its complications in Indigenous Peoples and communities in northern and remote areas of the country. In addition, we will work with partners on public policy related to diabetes and its complications more broadly, as a way to create systems change. The Foundation will also use all its tools, including impact investing and convening, to advance the goals of the Strategy.
We are committed to investing in this Strategy for the next 10 years.
Our recent work in partnership with Indigenous communities tackling this epidemic has given us a much stronger understanding of the opportunities and needs in these communities. It has also enabled important relationship building as well as trust building with Indigenous partners. Our experience so far reinforces the importance of working differently, recognizing the unique cultural and social characteristics of individual communities and the impact of colonialism and intergenerational trauma. This work can and must only be undertaken in close collaboration with Indigenous advisors and partners.
The Strategy will focus on supporting and enabling community-based initiatives and action research, promote the mobilization and sharing of knowledge, and inform and influence shifts in public policy.
We are currently engaging with our advisors to shape and inform this approach and next steps. More information about how we will proceed will follow later in 2021.