Indigenous peoples living in Ontario, whether on- or off-reserve, have a higher prevalence of several cancer risk factors. Cancer Care Ontario identified that Indigenous people need more support to access and navigate through the cancer system. The Regional Indigenous Cancer Lead (RICL) is vital to meeting that need in Northwestern Ontario, and there is opportunity now for a qualified person to take on this role.
The RICL is part of Cancer Care Ontario, as well as Prevention and Screening Services and Regional Cancer Care Northwest at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. The RICL advocates for, and addresses the primary care needs of Indigenous people by engaging with a wide range of health care providers, communities, and organizations. This includes providing education about evidence-based clinical guidelines and standards and policies, as well as support to improve screening practices with Indigenous people. The RICL participates in strategic planning and program design, provides expert advisory panels relating to Indigenous patient cancer journey and primary care, participates in peer and community education and training, and leads engagement with health care providers
Susan Bale has been the RICL’s Assistant in Prevention and Screening Services for over five years. “In Northwestern Ontario, 69 First Nations communities are supported throughout the cancer continuum, which includes prevention, treatment, and palliative care,” said Bale. “Considering this large region often makes travel difficult, it is important for us to be advocates for Indigenous people, including reducing barriers to accessing health care services as much as possible.”
In most Indigenous languages there is no terminology for the word cancer, which makes education around the topic much more important. The historical and cultural barriers to health care (e.g., language barriers, isolation, limited access to healthcare resources, etc.) that many Indigenous people face could impact the receptiveness to, and participation in cancer education, prevention and delivery of care. The RICL addresses some of these barriers to improve services and access for Indigenous people in our region.
Prevention and Screening Services is actively recruiting to fulfill the position of the RICL. The position is open to practicing family physicians, nurse practitioners, or primary care nurses with a comprehensive understanding of Indigenous communities. For a full list of requirements, visit jobs.tbrhsc.net. For more information on cancer resources to support Indigenous communities and organizations in Ontario, go to www.cancercareontario.ca and click the tab ‘First Nations, Inuit & Métis’.