This celebration of Aboriginal cultures within Canada aims to bring about awareness to the rest of Canadian society, of all aspects of art, music, oral history and traditional games.
I thought it especially important to recognize this day because of what work the World Conference on Breast Cancer Foundation does. We reach out to all who want to hear or speak about issues related to breast cancer to raise awareness. We strive to provide delegates with tools so that they can share information and create support infrastructure back in their communities.
We talk about nations that do not have access to services and about cultural barriers that prevent women from seeking assistance when they find they have a lump in their breast or learn they have breast cancer.
You do not have to travel outside of Canada's boarders to find women in this situation. Sandra Ahenakew, who is on the WCBCF Board of Directors and leads the Aboriginal Outreach Commitee told me that Aboriginal people are uncomfortable talking about cancer, let alone breast cancer. There are the same stigmas with male doctors, for Aboriginal women as there are in other cultures throughout the world. She also told me that women who are diagnosed often do not have access to services and feel very isolated.
Today, if you are in Canada, take a little time to learn more about our First Nations people in your geographical location. If you are elsewhere, learn something about a different culture. Understanding our cultural differences will help us understand and deal with barriers associated with raising breast cancer awareness in all cultures.
In my region the Aboriginal people are the Squ-HO-o-meesh (the Squamish people) and fall under the modern name of Coast Salish. I learned that the people in this region, after contact with European settlers, decided to come together as one band in 1923. The intent was to protect and fight for their land, which was being taken by railroads and settlers. They were and are governed by 16 Chiefs and successfully stopped others from taking their land reserves. They are a water people. The Squamish Nation was a co-host of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.