Type II Diabetes in Indigenous Populations

A Writing Space for "Bodily Subjects"

Category: Reading Logs

Returning to a Traditional Diet

During my research, I found an interview about a First Nations woman who decided to try going back to traditional foods in order to avoid developing diabetes. I didn’t end up using the interview in my final paper, but I found it interesting nonetheless. The woman, K.C. Adams, “calls it the reclamation of well-being diet.”[1] Adams says that before starting the diet, she recognized the pre-diabetic stages “tired after eating, feeling lethargic all the time, [her] stomach was very large.”[2] Adams is of Cree, Ojibway and British ancestry, and her mother is diabetic.[3] Her diet consisted of food available in North America, sticking to Manitoban local was too difficult.[4] As diabetes was not an issue or Aboriginal people before European contact, Adams and a few of her friends decided to turn to a diet of their ancestors, pre-European contact.[5] I find it interesting that she recognized pre-Diabetes symptoms and decided to turn to more tradition Aboriginal foods to try and prevent Diabetes from developing. Looking back at the interview now, I recognize a few things that I found during my research such as the non-existence of diabetes in First Nations people before the introduction of non-traditional foods.

[1] Kim Wheeler, “First Nations artist goes back to traditional diet to beat Diabetes,” CBC News, Nov. 22, 2014, par. 1

[2] Wheeler, par. 8.

[3] Wheeler, par. 4, 6.

[4] Wheeler, par. 5.

[5] Wheeler, par. 2, 3.

Residential Schools and Diabetes

During the beginning of my research, I came across one study that tried to determine if there is a connection between residential school attendance and diabetes among Indigenous peoples. I was both hopeful and worried that the study would answer all of the questions I was looking to answer. I was hopeful because the topic is so interesting and the possible connection between the subjects would be interesting to see. I was worried because if the study could answer all, or most, of my questions, there would be no reason to continue my research. The study showed that those who attended residential school did have a slightly higher prevalence of diabetes, but the difference was not significant [1]. At the end of the study, the researchers state that “it is possible that the detrimental impact of residential schools on the health of individuals within First Nations communities is so pervasive that it is difficult to find a truly unexposed comparison group.”[2]. Their results ultimately mean that we will most likely never know exactly what long-term effects on health residential schools had on the attendees and the subsequent generations.

[1] Roland F Dyck et al. “Do discrimination, residential school attendance and cultural disruption add to individual-level diabetes risk among Aboriginal people in Canada?” BMC Public Health. 2015: 4.

[2] Ibid., 10.