SIX NATIONS – An event celebrated those that have been affected by cancer to walk for awareness throughout a 12 hour period in which meals and support are provided at the Ohsweken blue track.
Tents were set by those wishing to stay for the full 12 hours as well as booths, a band and even a kitchen to provide entertainment and food for walkers and supporters.
This great event was headed by the Miles to Go Cancer Support Group, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, of which Spokesperson and Cancer Survivor Erinn Monture said “it’s neat how everybody comes together.”
“[The walk] relies on everybody pitching in and supplying something,” said Monture. “It brings awareness to cancer, cancer issues within the community and resources; that’s why we have the table set up. So, it just brings the community together, because even though we have the group not everybody attends all of the time,” she said.
But the walk isn’t solely for awareness.
“It raises funds, everybody was asked to get pledges or donations for it because Miles to Go is a not-for-profit and it relies solely on donations from the community,” she said.
The money that is raised through walk pledges and donations is then pooled and offered back to the community in the best way possible – rather than going to cancer research the money goes to the people by means of helping with the coping process and even gas money to appointments.
Monture explained that the group and the walk go hand-in-hand and focus on “our people helping our people.”
“A lot of people get cancer and there’s a lot of more being diagnosed with cancer today, problem is they’re very passive so they don’t want to come to groups and stuff like that. But, our [Miles to Go] group is not like a group off of the reserve,” she said.
“It’s not like we’re sitting there talking or whatever, this is different. It’s meant to support each person in our community – our people understand our people,” she said. “I am now the representative for Juravinski Hospital for the patient advocacy board, and that’s what I’m trying to bring. I’ll be the first First Nations going in to Juravinskis board with their oncologist and president, to bring awareness to how our culture is different from main stream culture,” she said, using diet and living conditions as factors.
One of the booths at the event that focused on bringing awareness was the Palliative Care booth, in which Professional Services Secretary Alicia Hill said she thinks that what the Palliative Care Unit does is “awesome and wonderful.”
“Six Nations is kind of like the model, like the first Aboriginal Palliative Care Team in Ontario,” said Hill, explaining that this team allows members of the Six Nations community suffering from cancer in need of at home care, to receive it from their own people.
“They looked at the traditional values and they also looked at the Christian values and it gives people the opportunity to, rather than being in a hospice where it’s not very Onkwehon:we friendly, it gives people the chance to come home to their daughters, husbands, or whoever, even their homestead. It gives them the peace of mind coming home on their last days, weeks or months in their own home, and having their own people coming in to service them,” she said, explaining that many off-reserve hospice nurses and caretakers don’t quite understand how to approach members that desire traditional practices.
“We have community members that are receiving care in Hagersville, [some are] knowledge keepers, and their staff can’t identify with that,” said Hill. “One’s guys really worried about like ‘I have all of this language that I haven’t taught, I know this ceremony and that ceremony and I haven’t wrote it down,’ and the nurses are just like ‘so?’”.
Hill then explained that cultural sensitivity is key, and many off-reserve care teams are trying to start to understand.
The efforts being made behind the scenes in regards to cancer awareness are bright and big within the Six Nations community – with as much success as has already been achieved, only more can come.