A social worker with a passion for supporting the Aboriginal path to health and healing has joined the Central East Regional Cancer Program. Kathy MacLeod‐Beaver is the cancer program’s new Aboriginal Navigator, and she has extensive experience in health promotion and counselling for First Nations Inuit Metis (FNIM) peoples from her work with the Nogojiwanong Friendship Centre in Peterborough and Alderville First Nation Health and Social Services.
Over the next several months, she’ll be working with FNIM communities to improve system access to cancer care for FNIM peoples across the region.
“We are pleased to further offer services through our Regional Cancer Care program that will meet the needs of our diverse community,” says Sari Greenwood, Patient Care Manager, Cancer Care Program at The Scarborough Hospital.
“Kathy is an outstanding addition to our team at a time when cancer rates for Aboriginal people are on the rise,” says Tom McHugh, Regional Vice‐President of the Central East Regional Cancer Program. “Her arrival and our focus on meeting the distinct emotional, physical and spiritual needs of this community will help to lower the risk of cancer, break down barriers to care and ensure better longer lives for people who do get cancer.”
The introduction of Aboriginal Navigators is part of Cancer Care Ontario’s three‐year Aboriginal Cancer Strategy which seeks to address higher incidence of cancer among FNIM peoples. Survival rates for major cancers in FNIM communities are also considerably lower when compared to other Ontarians.
Kathy will work directly with FNIM communities to assess and evaluate the services that are currently available to FNIM peoples to identify any gaps. Her role will also include facilitating and coordinating access to palliative and supportive care that addresses cultural and spiritual needs of FNIM peoples.
“I’m excited to work with the cancer teams across the region to help FNIM families feel at ease knowing that we are here to walk with them on their healing journey,” says Kathy.
Since 1991, incident rates for colorectal, lung, breast and prostate cancers have been increasing in Status First Nations.
First Nations in Ontario have poorer survival for cancers of the breast, colorectal, prostate and lung than other Ontarians.
There are 133 distinct First Nations in Ontario. Approximately 51% live on reserve.