Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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February 16, 2016

‘HEALING JOURNEY HOME 2016’ TO RAISE AWARENESS OVER HEALTH SERVICES

THUNDER BAY, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler supports a group of walkers led by Webequie First Nation member Norman Shewaybick who has launched Healing Journey Home 2016 to raise awareness of the lack of health services in remote First Nations following the loss of his wife last year.

“We’d like to thank all the supporters, the Ontario Provincial Police and the drivers on the road for giving us space to walk,” said Norman Shewaybick during a rest today rest in Savant Lake, northwest of Thunder Bay. “We’ve been talking to a lot of people who have been telling us their stories and saying ‘thank you’. These stories keep us going. We don’t want what happened to us to happen to anyone else.”

Shewaybick, a high school teacher in Webequie, his sons Leon, Erick and Brandon and supporters are walking in memory of his wife Laura, who was medevaced from the remote First Nation in respiratory distress after the nursing station’s supply of oxygen was extinguished. She passed away while hospitalized in Thunder Bay in October 2015. They are honouring her memory by carrying an oxygen tank back to their community, a journey of approximately 1,000 kilometres.

The walk began at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit on February 12. Travelling an average of 120 kilometres per day they are expected to arrive home by the end of the month.

“We are pleased to support Norman, his family and the Webequie community and our thoughts are with these walkers as they make their way back home,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “We were deeply touched by these tragic circumstances and we are proud to support their efforts to raise awareness of the need for health care services in their community and other remote First Nations.”

Shewaybick and his sons are encouraging members of the public to share their health care experiences on their Facebook page Healing Journey Home 2016.

“I read the stories people share and carry them with me while I walk. When I hear the animals in the distance, I give the stories to them,” he said.

First Nation leaders and representatives of the Government of Canada including Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and Health Canada officials have been invited to meet with Chief and Council upon the walkers’ arrival.

NAN has called on the Government of Canada to engage with First Nations and take action to improve health care services after a scathing report by the Auditor General of Canada in 2015 concluded that First Nations in remote communities are severely marginalized when it comes to access and delivery.

The Auditor General documented the continued failure by Health Canada to address the heath care needs of First Nations communities, which has resulted in the health of the First Nations people being considerably poorer than that of the rest of the Canadian population.

 

For more information and updates on their journey please visit:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/healingjourneyhome2016

Donations can be made through:

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Account Name: Healing Journey Home 2016

Branch: 2087

Account Number: 7754590


For more information please contact:

Norman Shewaybick – (613) 982-5336

Roxann Shapwaykeesic, Communications Officer – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4906 or (807) 251-6876 mobile or by email rshapwaykeesic@nan.on.ca


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