Sadie’s Walk set for Good Friday 

By Jan Murphy

 Local Journalism Initiative

Sadie Muik will again be on the minds of many Indigenous people across the country on Good Friday.

As will health and diabetes prevention.

The walk, an annual event for First Nations across Canada, is held in the memory of deceased diabetes project worker Sadie Muik, who was killed when her car was struck by a logging truck on Good Friday in 1996. Following Sadie’s death, other project workers held a walk in her honour, which has become an annual event marked by First Nations people across the country.


Locally, Sadie’s Walk will begin at the Community Wellbeing Centre in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory on Good Friday at 8:30 a.m.


“Participants have to register and receive a passport and then go to complete the five-kilometre walk,” Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Chief R. Donald Maracle said, adding that the MBQ walk typically draws between 120 and 130 participants. “Many come back with their families and younger generations.”


During the walk, there are four to five checkpoints where representatives of the Community Wellbeing Centre will ask participants questions regarding diabetes prevention. Participants are then given a stamp on their event passport, which, once completed are returned to the Community Wellbeing Centre and entered into draw prizes. Participants are also given a healthy bagged lunch upon completion of the walk.


The MBQ have participated in Sadie’s Walk since 2000, Maracle said.


“I think there was a recognition that there was a need to do more to deal with diabetic management,” he said, which includes thing prevention. “Things like quitting smoking, watching your diet, maintaining physical exercise, maintaining stable blood sugars through diet and medication and following up with doctor’s appointments,” Maracle added.


The majority of cases in MBQ are Type 2 diabetic, Maracle said.


“Most of the people who have diabetes in our community would be Type 2 diabetes, which means that your pancreas can produce some insulin, but not enough,” the chief said. “We have about 300 patients who are diabetic that our nurses provide services to in the community. I’m informed by our community health nurse that about 80% of them are Type 2 diabetic and high number of them would receive nursing attention for leg ulcers, diabetic-like leg ulcers and that can be caused by cardiac problems or diabetes issues. Diabetes is a very serious concern in the in the First Nations everywhere.”


MBQ has, in recent years, focused more attention and resources on education and prevention when it comes to diabetes, Maracle noted.


“Well, what we’ve done here is we’ve hired a nurse, Shelly Brandt, who’s a diabetic educator. And we have Lauren Gilbey on staff, who is a dietician. She provides education in terms of what to eat, how to cook it to maintain a healthy diet from a diabetic management and from a food perspective. We also have the fitness centre to encourage more physical activity, particularly walking and exercise to help stimulate circulation to the extremities. And then we have nurses that provide direct in-home care of 300 patients. So we’ve done a lot.”


It’s not lost on the longtime chief how supportive community members are when it comes to public events such as Sadie’s Walk.


“(It tells me) that the community cares and recognizes that these issues are important and they all they do their part to encourage awareness and greater awareness of what the events are about and through greater awareness, we can achieve better results,” Maracle noted, adding that MBQ are dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone in the Territory, and beyond.


“We have a very dedicated staff too, who do their jobs and provide services to the community and encourage people along the way to do the right thing. It’s everybody working together to maintain the best quality of life that can be achieved.”


The Community Wellbeing Centre is located at 50 Meadow Dr. in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.


Jan Murphy is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Belleville Intelligencer. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.


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