The following is an excerpt from an article written by Ms Emilea | Karihoo BPE, Provincial Health Coordinator. Alberta Native Friendship Centre Association (ANFCA) . The original article developed for Alberta Centre Active Living newsletter has been forwarded in its entirety to all readers. Emilea is a member of the Indigenous Sport Council Board of Directors representing the Alberta Native Friendship Centres.
As the general health of Canadians continues to decline, physical activity initiatives have become a national priority. Our modern - ay, sedentary lifestyle is contributing to high rates of chronic disease, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are occurring more frequently than ever before (Warburton et al., 2007).
One segment of the Canadian population is affected by these diseases at drastically higher rates. Aboriginal people in Canada are 3–5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes (Canadian Diabetes Association), with both adults and children experiencing significantly higher incidence of obesity than non-Aboriginal .
With the Aboriginal population growing six times faster than the non-Aboriginal population, and with 48 per cent of this population younger than 24 years old (Statistics Canada, 2008), reversing this poor health trend is crucial. As active-living practitioners, you know that physical activity may effectively improve these health conditions (Warburton et al., 2007). Unfortunately, physical activity initiatives that target Aboriginal people in Canada remain relatively underdeveloped and under- delivered as non- Aboriginal health professionals lack the cultural awareness that could help these programs succeed.
Aboriginal peoples in Canada have a range of distinct values, beliefs, attitudes and traditions. As well, they often face many barriers related to low socioeconomic status. In order to succeed, physical activity programs aimed at Aboriginal persons or communities must be reframed to reflect their cultural and socio-economic realities.