THUNDER BAY – Sandra Cornell has seen Fort William First Nation’s annual health fair expand since the first one held more than 20 years ago.
Then it was in a tiny venue with limited access but now it has grown to where the 21st annual installment filled the main room at the Fort William First Nation Community Centre on Monday.
“It was very small when we first started,” said Cornell, who works in the native nurses’ entry program at Lakehead University.
“It’s gotten bigger and there are a lot more organizations and prior to this there were barely any Aboriginal organizations even out there. That’s one area that has really expanded.”
Many groups, such as Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, offer a wide variety of services. Dilico, in particular, has extended beyond just services for children but offer assistance for families.
At its origin was the need to connect members of the community with the different health-care organizations across the city and to build relationships.
Providing access to supports and resources is a vital function of the fair, said Fort William First Nation director of health and social services Karen Bannon.
“Our elders are getting on into the years and odds are when you get to be their age you have a lot of ailments for the last 10 years of your life,” Bannon said. “Most of the booths concentrate on education for them and getting them the help they need.”
Home care was a prominent point of emphasis at the fair, providing information on how the elders can receive treatment in the comfort of their own homes.
Various referral services were also highlighted how people can find the best course of treatment.
That peace of mind can be valuable not only to the individual but to their family as well.
“I think the more information they can get, the better they can be,” Bannon said.
“It will make their life a lot easier and a lot simpler. Sometimes they don’t know why certain ailments are happening to them and the information at the booths gives them that opportunity.”
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