Wednesday, February 11, 2009

From the CBC News website today:
Hopefully CBC will keep us updated on his progress.

Innu man crosses Labrador on foot for diabetes

An Innu man from Sheshatshiu, N.L., began a 300-kilometre solo hike across barren wilderness Wednesday morning to raise awareness about diabetes in aboriginal communities.

Michel Andrew, 27, set off on foot from his home in the Innu community, towing a sled packed with traditional gear, intending to walk across hundreds of kilometres of Labrador wilderness along a snowmobile trail. His gear includes a tent, snowshoes, bucksaw and a caribou blanket to sleep on, but Andrew is taking no canned or processed food.

"So we're hunting rabbits or porcupine or partridges or something on the way, on the trail there," he said.

Andrew said he blames the widespread diabetes among aboriginal communities on processed foods, and that's why he will eat traditionally along his hike.

First Nations communities have rates of diabetes as much as twice the national average, according to studies.

Seeing friends and family members struggle with diabetes is what spurred Andrew to undertake the hike and attempt to raise money for research into the disease in aboriginal people and to bring awareness to communities at risk.

He told CBC News he believes Innu, especially young people, need to get back to traditional ways, such as walking everywhere and eating a more traditional diet.

"People used to go down the country, a lot of people. I don't know why they stopped. They stopped and they got this diabetes," he said.

The planned route will take Andrew from Sheshatshiu, near Happy Valley-Goose Bay, to Natuashish on Labrador's north coast, tracing a traditional route Andrew's grandparents used to travel.

"This trip is important for me because of my grandmother and my grandfather used to walk," Andrew said, describing the long distances his grandparents travelled on foot between communities at Natuashish, James Bay and Sheshatshiu.

"This trip, I'm going by myself, my grandfather used to walk by himself. He was busy hunting by himself.… I feel great, I've done this stuff all my life, I'm used to this stuff."

Andrew is not worried about the long journey or the freezing winter conditions he will encounter along the way, but he is worried about diabetes spreading through young aboriginal people, as young as 10 or 11, and he said he hopes his walk will bring attention to his cause.

Andrew expects the trip to take three to four weeks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

interesting story there sandhopper.