Children’s health starts with real food and a united community

I had the privilege of attending the International Meeting on Indigenous Child Health this past weekend in Ottawa. It is good to know that so many healthcare professionals do take a keen interest in Indigenous health. I highly respect the work they continue to do to address the alarming health disparities amongst our Aboriginal populations across North America. In the past 8 years of working in health promotion and diabetes prevention, I have attended many of these events and the message always seems to be consistent: although we are doing many things at many levels to address change, large health disparities continue to exist in our communities.

Knowing the urgency of the health crises that we are faced with and being fully aware of the pressing need for social and systemic change, it can be very disheartening to realize how much is yet to be done. But the opportunity to create change at the community level is always within reach.

As a diabetes prevention coordinator, I try my best to share and inspire at the community level, person by person, wherever and whenever I can and I know there are so many frontline workers doing the same in order to build healthier, stronger people, families and communities.

We need to get to the bottom of it all, and this involves addressing root concerns. More specifically, we need to get to that place where all minds come together as one, and we collectively focus on our health and well being in order to set the stage for future generations. Ideally, this involves each and every one of us taking a reflective moment to determine if our current actions are going to have a positive impact on the health of our children, grandchildren, and all of the faces to come. Just as importantly, are our current actions having a positive impact on our own level of wellness? This is something to mindfully consider and be aware of.

During the last presentation that I attended on Sunday, a health care practitioner from Alaska spoke of how food is medicine. Please take a moment to let that sink into your deepest level of consciousness and carefully consider this truth. Close your eyes and imagine the trillions of cells that comprise your body – your sacred vessel. Each one of these cells require proper fuel to carry out the chemical processes necessary for our day to day function and long term health.

Real food is sacred and delicious but in reality, it is medicinal, contributing to our overall energy level, mind state and spiritual connectedness.

Contrary to the belief that healthy eating is costly, there are still many ways to get traditional, nutrient dense foods from our environment. The information is still out there for us, and it is very much accessible. We have many knowledge carriers within our communities who hold a wealth of information that can guide us in the right direction. And if food is medicine, it is important to clarify this in more detail by acknowledging that real foods are good medicine. Highly processed and artificially enhanced foods are medicines that contribute to sickness, disease and unwellness when not consumed with great moderation.

Our perception of food and activity has been clouded by continued developments in western ways, as well as our own conditioned habits and routines that have developed as a result of drastic cultural, environmental and social changes. It is definitely up to us to make connections within and around our communities where it concerns ways of improving our health and wellness.

First and foremost, we need to take collective action despite the possibility that government initiated systemic change is not in our immediate future. Although we should continue to voice our concerns and make rightful demands as a demonstration of our unwavering communal spirit, we don’t ultimately have control of the outcome.

We need to work together at the community level to empower one another! Set your mind to a place of peace and freedom and carefully consider all that is needed to be liberated. You will realize that our health is an essential piece of being truly liberated. All people can make a difference. We must not forget the power of collective action and like minds. Healthcare professionals, community members, front line workers, traditional and non traditional leaders, medicine people; no one is excluded.

Collectively, we need to bring a very essential concept to the forefront of our minds at individual, family and community levels. We need to repair our sense of empowerment and take full ownership for ourselves and our future as Nations full of distinct, beautiful, and original peoples. And we can do a whole lot more when we put our minds together as one bundle to demonstrate the unity, strength and persistence Creator has gifted us with. As we have learned in our history, it takes an entire community to raise a child.

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