SIX NATIONS – Last Friday in Chiefswood Park at Six Nations firefighters and Elected Band Council members, along with their family and friends gathered at 2pm for a picture to commemorate the over $400 they raised for breast cancer research. Nationwide, businesses, clubs, schools, and organizations of all sizes teamed up with the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, each simultaneously hosting their own event, to mark the 17th Annual DRESS for the CAUSE. The event was previously called “Dress Down Day”; this year the event collectively raised over $2 million for breast cancer research in Canada.
Employees had to wear a pink or white shirt to be included in the picture, and were encouraged to invite their family and friends, even if they weren’t Council employees or participants in the actual fundraising. The Organization/Team name was ‘Six Nations of the Grand River/Six Nations Fire Department’. Due to the nature of their work, firefighters have a higher risk of developing cancer and other job-related health complications.
Dr. Tee Guidotti, a leading expert on occupational and pulmonary medicine explains that there is much needed (and costly) research in terms of firefighters and their environmental exposure to toxins known to cause cancer. “The problem is that although we have lots of studies on firefighters, they don’t tell us everything we need to know. There are lots of uncertainties and because any one study is usually small and local, it often does not reflect the true risk for firefighters as a whole. We need more research that addresses gaps in information. We need studies that really drill down on specific exposures and specific cancer types, and this will take more funding. We know that every exposure to a fire is a dangerous and poisonous event. We need to use the same studies that document cancer risk as guides for prevention, so that future firefighters are better protected.”
Participation was a first for Six Nations Elected Council, but even with little time the money raised is a huge success. Next year Six Nations Elected Council hopes to organize an even bigger event, with the inclusion of the Health Department. There was also talk of getting a portable mammography machine so people could do breast cancer screenings on the spot. There is no doubt that firefighters risk their lives daily to ensure the safety of others. It is a beautiful thing to see community members step up and support the need for research that will seek to understand health factors for firefighters and determine prevention methods for their optimal health.