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Bkejwanong Territory (Walpole Island First Nation) signs Relationship Protocol with Cancer Care Ontario

October 31, 2019

4 min read

Today representatives from Bkejwanong Territory (Walpole Island First Nation) signed a Relationship Protocol with Cancer Care Ontario to formalize their partnership and outline the principles of how the parties will work together to address common cancer care priorities. The agreement was signed in the community Governance Buildings.

The first strategic priority in Cancer Care Ontario’s third Aboriginal Cancer Strategy (ACS III), and forthcoming First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Urban Indigenous Cancer Strategy (Strategy 4) is to build productive relationships based on trust and respect. This Relationship Protocol will foster and support the relationship between Bkejwanong (Walpole Island First Nation) and Cancer Care Ontario as they work to improve the health and well-being of community members.  

“It is very alarming to me, the number of people with cancer in our community, and even more upsetting is the number of people who have died from cancer. Addressing the impacts of cancer in our community is an important priority for us. The signing of this Relationship Protocol represents a significant step on our journey to improving the health and wellbeing of our community members. We are very pleased to be working so closely with Cancer Care Ontario and look forward to continuing a respectful and productive dialogue in the months and years to come,” said Chief Dan Miskokomon, Bkejwanong Territory.

“Formalizing our partnership with Bkejwanong Territory marks an important milestone as we work towards our common goals of reducing the burden of cancer,” said Michael Sherar, President and CEO, CCO. “As Cancer Care Ontario transitions to Ontario Health, we look forward to building on this important work together in a way that honours the Indigenous Path of Well-Being.”

The facts:

  • First Nations peoples have higher mortality rates from preventable cancers, show higher rates of some modifiable risk factors and tend to present with later-stage cancers at the time of diagnosis.
  • More research is needed to understand cancer amongst First Nations in Ontario and this partnership will help enhance this knowledge.
  • Since 2012, eight Relationship Protocols (inclusive of that which is being signed today) have been signed between Cancer Care Ontario and First Nations and Inuit communities and organizations. This includes Bkejwanong Territory (Walpole Island First Nation), the Anishinabek Nation, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Grand Council Treaty #3, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Inuit Service Providers, Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Cancer Care Ontario has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Métis Nation of Ontario as well as a Letter of Relationship with the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians.
  • ACS III and Strategy 4 are comprehensive plans that guides how Cancer Care Ontario works with partners to improve the performance of the cancer system for First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous peoples. ACS III focuses on six strategic priorities to improve health equity: build productive relationships; research and surveillance; prevention; screening; supportive care; and education. Strategy 4 will also focus on these areas, with an additional priority: equitable access.

ACS III is a direct deliverable of the Ontario Cancer Plan IV and reflects the shared priorities of Cancer Care Ontario, the Regional Cancer Programs and Aboriginal communities. The forthcoming First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Urban Indigenous Cancer Strategy (Strategy 4), will be released in late 2019.

To contact an Indigenous Navigator who can help First Nations and other cancer patients and their families who identify as Indigenous, please visit Cancer Care Ontario’s website.

About Bkejwanong Territory (Walpole Island First Nation)

Bkejwanong Territory, also known as Walpole Island, is located near Wallaceburg, Ontario at the mouth of the St. Clair River. It encompasses six islands that have been occupied by the Ojibwe, Potawatomi and Ottawa peoples for thousands of years. These Nations also represent the Council of the Three Fires, which is a political and cultural confederacy that has survived the test of time. Walpole Island has never been set apart as a reserve, giving it the distinction of being unceded territory.

Today, Bkejwanong First Nation has a total membership of 4860 people with 2371 people living in the community.  Bkejwanong is home to some of the most diverse wetlands, oak savannas, and tallgrass prairies of the Great Lakes region. Recreation and tourism are important to the local economy, as Walpole Island’s unique ecosystem is an attraction for hunters and fishers worldwide. Community members not only provide guide services, but they also continue to hunt, fish and trap on the land. Agriculture is another significant industry, and the First Nation farms several thousand acres under a co-operative called Tahgahoning. Bkejwanong is also home to a number of private and First Nation-run business enterprises. The largest employer on Walpole Island is the First Nation itself, which delivers programs and services to the community.