Cancer control for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in the North : Interview

Read Dr. Corriveau’s interview about cancer control in the north and the cancer control strategy for the Northwest Territories

Dr CorriveauDr. André Corriveau, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Department of Health and Social Services, Northwest Territories, outlines the challenges for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis with regards to cancer control in the North, and discusses the Northwest Territories’ cancer control strategy.

What is the biggest challenge for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis with regards to cancer control in the North?
The Northwest Territories is home to a very small population in a vast area and the majority of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people live in small, remote communities. This makes the cancer pathway a daunting one. From diagnosis through treatment and survivorship, cancer patients must navigate a complicated circuit of services that takes them from the primary health-care centers in their home communities to Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife and the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton—then back home again.

So far from home and removed from their families and community supports, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cancer patients face additional challenges such as language barriers or an absence of culturally appropriate support resources, which makes arranging flights and accommodation through Medical Travel, for example, all the more confusing.

Even at the community level, language and cultural divides between local community members and primary-care providers impact the effectiveness of health promotion and cancer prevention activities and resources, as well as participation rates in screening programs.

The challenges are complex and interconnected, but we expect to progress in their resolution as we work with communities and other partners such as the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.