First Nations bringing back Health and Wellness Fair this week

Diabetes: Sue ‘Mrs. Pudding’ Schaefer will be delivering a lighthearted look at the increasingly prevalent disease.

Local First Nations will be bringing a wealth of health care practitioners from around Vancouver Island to Lake Cowichan for a Community Health and Wellness Fair, set for March 7 at Centennial Hall.

Both floors of Centennial Hall will see an assortment of organizations behind the booths, including Vancouver Island University, Curves and St. John Ambulance, among others. The main stage will also be filled with health-based demonstrations and performances, including Zumba and yoga tutorials by Cowichan Lake Recreation, storytime and e-library demonstrations by the Vancouver Island Regional Library, a “learning to exercise again” demonstration and more, each lasting around thirty minutes.

While organizers are not working around a particular theme for the Health and Wellness Fair, coordinator Melanie Hamilton said they were aiming to provide “a little bit of everything” for the inaugural event.

A guest speaker Hamilton said she was very enthusiastic about is Sue “Mrs. Pudding” Schaefer, a diabetes nurse educator who Hamilton said brings a “not-so-serious approach to a serious disease.”

Diabetes is one of the fastest rising health problems in Canada, having reached a 7.6 per cent prevalence across Canada (though it remains slightly lower in British Columbia), which is estimated to reach over ten per cent of the population in the next five years.

The disease is also becoming increasingly prevalent within First Nations communities, with 17.2 per cent of First Nations people living on reserves being diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes.

“It’s fairly serious for First Nations overall, but also within the broader community as well,” Hamilton said. “It’s one of the silent [diseases] people don’t often talk about. It can just hit you, regardless of lifestyle. [Schaefer] takes a lighthearted approach; she brings awareness to diabetes in a healthy and fun way, which is why we wanted to have her at the Health Fair.”

Though this will be the first Health and Wellness Fair to be organized by Lake Cowichan First Nations, the town saw a similar event last spring, when Choose Cowichan Lake organized their own after receiving a one-time grant to do so.

Hamilton said that although they have yet to see how next week’s event turns out, they’re hoping to continue the Health and Wellness Fair as an annual offering.

“We’re excited to take the lead on something we’ve never done before,” she said.

The Health and Wellness Fair is also being used to help fund the Nation’s totem pole project set for Ts’uu baa-asatx Square. Admission is free, though donations will be accepted and used to offset the costs of the materials and artist. The rough carving of the pole is still set to begin in April, and residents are invited to participate.

The pole project is expected be finished in late August, when the pole will be raised in Ts’uu baa-asatx Square following a traditional ceremony and blessing of the pole.

The Health and Wellness Fair is scheduled for March 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Centennial Hall, next to the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena on 309 South Shore Road.

Lake Cowichan Gazette