Earlier this year, the Lawson Foundation announced the launch of the second phase of our Child & Youth Diabetes Strategy (CYDS) with a more strategic focus on the prevention of type 2 diabetes in northern and remote Indigenous communities across Canada. This ten year commitment to its Indigenous focus within the CYDS recognizes that it takes time to build the knowledge, relationships and trust needed to develop and implement community-based initiatives as well as to measure outcomes. We see this strategy as a journey we will make together with Indigenous partners.

This renewed strategy is guided by the key principles of Indigenous leadership; models of Indigenous wellness; community-centred and strength-based approaches; and relationships, reciprocity and shared learning. 

As we begin this journey, we are pleased today to share news of an initial investment of over $3 million in ten Indigenous-led initiatives over the next three years. These projects will have an impact on Indigenous organizations and communities in northern and remote regions, where geography can often amplify health-related inequities. The first cohort of funded projects reflects the contemporary realities of Indigenous Peoples and their perspectives on their health status and futures. More information about the ten funded demonstration projects is included below.

In addition, we have engaged Reciprocal Consulting, an Indigenous-led firm, to conduct a robust evaluation of the new focus to ensure credible results can inform policy and practice as well as the application of learning elsewhere.

The focus on prevention includes health promotion approaches as well as care for those living with diabetes to prevent complications. Given the Foundation’s overall focus on the healthy development of children and youth, the CYDS is centering its work on children, youth and their families, including maternal and perinatal health.

Project Summaries


NunatuKavut Community Council, Inc.: Learning for Life – Preventing Diabetes Project

The NunatuKavut Community Council, Inc.’s project “Learning for Life – Preventing Diabetes Project” seeks to decrease the number of NunatuKavut Inuit children and youth being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by offering culturally appropriate programs & services that promote wholistic, healthy living, while informing public policy. Building on community assets, practical, action-oriented, community-level prevention initiatives are the center of the plan with NunatuKavut Inuit being instrumental in all aspects. 


Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Program (KSDPP): Mobilizing and supporting Indigenous community to community connections to prevent type 2 diabetes in future generations

The Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Program (KSDPP) and McGill University are working on “Mobilizing and supporting Indigenous community to community connections to prevent type 2 diabetes in future generations“. For 28 years, KSDPP has designed and implemented ever evolving culturally based school, family and community intervention activities in Kahnawà:ke and by increasing capacity to promote healthy lifestyles for all ages through the Community Mobilization Training (CMT) delivered to multiple Indigenous communities. This project supports the Kahnawà:ke Schools Diabetes Prevention Program (KSDPP) Centre for Research and Training to train Indigenous youth from northern and remote communities to deliver the KSDPP Community Mobilization Training (CMT) for type 2 diabetes (T2D) prevention and healthy living to other Indigenous communities and facilitate youth-focused community-to-community knowledge exchange to grow Indigenous-led mobilization across Turtle Island. 


Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle: Waasnooden/Wawatay (Wind Blowing/Northern Lights): Shining a light on diabetes prevention among Indigenous youth

Waasnooden/Wawatay (Wind Blowing/Northern Lights): Shining a light on diabetes prevention among Indigenous youth” is a project of the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle, based in Thorold, Ontario. This project will promote type 2 and Gestational Diabetes awareness and prevention for Indigenous youth in the Treaty #3 region in Ontario by building community capacity by training frontline workers in diabetes awareness and prevention, developing networks among primary care providers, frontline workers and youth in the region, and bringing youth ambassadors and frontline workers together co-create and deliver youth diabetes awareness programming. The project will build community awareness of diabetes prevention and care, focused on supporting youth to develop and maintain positive, culturally-grounded health behaviours that they can carry into their reproductive years and parenting.


Ogimaawabiitong (Kenora Chiefs Advisory: Diabetes and the Seven Sacred Grandfather Teachings (Ma’mo’weh Wii’soo’ka’tiwin)

Ogimaawabiitong (Kenora Chiefs Advisory) has developed the “Diabetes and the Seven Sacred Grandfather Teachings (Ma’mo’weh Wii’soo’ka’tiwin)” project. Ogimaawabiitong will create opportunities for cross-generational knowledge sharing, learning and physical activities throughout the year at their youth & family camps. The program will be delivered specifically to youth and families. The program, supported by community Elders, will include teachings (Creation Story, Clan System, Identity, Seasons), fishing, tracking/snaring, canoeing, preparing traditional foods (fileting, smoking), gathering medicines, drum/moccasin-making, beading, language games and story-telling. The program will prepare youth and families to live a healthy lifestyle while ensuring the sharing of traditional knowledge, wisdom and learning to help prevent diabetes. 


Raven Indigenous Capital Partners & Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba: The Next Generation Birth Cohort Study: A Mixed Methods Study of Pre- and Post-Natal Programming to Reduce Barriers to Initiation and Continuation of Breastfeeding to Prevent Intergenerational T2D in a First Nations Community

Raven Indigenous Capital Partners, the University of Manitoba and four Island Lake communities will be working on “The Next Generation Birth Cohort Study: A mixed methods study of pre- and post-natal programming to reduce barriers to initiation and continuation of breastfeeding to prevent intergenerational T2D in a First Nations community”. The project will increase breastfeeding rates in communities by providing prenatal education regarding activity and nutrition for a healthy pregnancy and pre- and post-natal discussions and decisions regarding breastfeeding specifically, and will determine facilitators and barriers to breastfeeding to optimize community based infrastructure and breastfeeding support.


O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation & Thunderbird School: kwayask pematisiwim kakinohkotayak (How We Have Shown Good Family Life)

O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation and Thunderbird School are partnering on the “kwayask pematisiwim kakinohkotayak (How we have shown good family life)” project, which will support students and their families to become healthier and reduce the incidence of chronic health problems. Increased health will be achieved through increased physical activity during land-based harvesting and culturally aligned sports, and by shifting the current diet from highly processed store foods back to more traditional and land-based foods. When families harvest, they will contribute traditional foods to a school-based family cooking program. Elders will share related teachings on respectful harvest and relationships with the land, water, plants and animals. 


Opaskwayak Culture & Healthy Living Initiatives – Opaskwaya Identity: Connecting youth with local knowledge through land-based practices

Opaskwayak Culture & Healthy Living Initiatives has developed “Opaskwaya Identity: Connecting youth with local knowledge through land-based practices“. In the project, Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) Indigenous youth will gather knowledge, skills and experiences that will prepare them to take responsibility for and control of their health and well-being. Drawing on local Elders’ land-based knowledge and practices, youth will learn to identify, harvest, and prepare traditional foods and medicines and foods grown in the community garden. Youth will also take a canoe trip through their territory’s waterways, where they will be able to apply their land-based knowledge and skills. Related resources and curriculum for the community and schools will be developed to support the maintenance of activities beyond the project term.


Government of Northwest Territories Department of Health and Social Services: On the Land Diabetes Prevention and Care Program

The Government of Northwest Territories’ Department of Health and Social Services’ project, “On the Land Diabetes Prevention and Care Program”, will develop, in partnership with Indigenous governments and communities, immersive on-the-land educational camps to provide culturally relevant, whole-person and family-centered prevention and management of type 2 diabetes by integrating Indigenous knowledge, culture, foods, and ways of being with health system resources including case management, physician, nurses, dietitians, and diabetes educators. Community designed and delivered immersive on-the-land diabetes prevention and care camps that are whole-family centered are the foundation of this project. 


Bearspaw First Nation: Bearspaw Diabetes Action Team

Bearspaw First Nation’s Diabetes Action Team, through Bearspaw’s Stoney Trail Wellness Centre, will reduce the impact and rates of diabetes on youth, families, and pregnant women in the community of Eden Valley by developing a wholistic diabetes awareness program grounded in culture and community. The program will be spearheaded by this new Diabetes Action Team, made up of youth community champions, multi-sector professionals, and Elders and knowledge keepers. This team will empower families to take ownership of their health by working closely with them in their own homes, by supporting food, nutrition, and cultural health initiatives across the community, and by gathering the critical data that is needed to build a long-term vision for a healthy Eden Valley.


Ahousaht First Nation Education Authority & Maaqtusiis Secondary School: Tee Cha Chilt – Getting Well Again, Ahousaht Whole Community Engagement for Youth Diabetes Prevention Through Connection to Nuu-chah-nulth (NCN) Cultural Food Systems and Land-Based Physical Activity

Ahousaht First Nation Education Authority in partnership with Maaqtusiis Secondary School have developed “Tee Cha Chilt – Getting Well Again, Ahousaht Whole Community Engagement for Youth Diabetes Prevention Through Connection to Nuu-chah-nulth (NCN) Cultural Food Systems and Land-Based Physical Activity“, which will empower Ahousaht youth to build resiliency and address the diabetes trajectory through community-based programming by re-establishing food systems and correlating land-based activity, defining how youth’s cultural engagement improves wellness. 

For more information on the Child and Youth Diabetes Strategy, please connect with Jeff LaPlante.

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