SAMSON CREE FIRST NATION – HEALTH – Samson Cree Nation welcomed Elders, a Member of Legislative Assembly, Health Providers and Community members in launching an exciting new initiative Ekaya Pihtwaw – a Tobacco Cessation project.
The project launch was chosen to coincide with “World No Tobacco Day” which was held worldwide on May 31.
The goal of the Ekaya Pihtwaw project is to work together to reduce the harmful effects of the non-traditional use of tobacco.
Specifically Ekaya Pihtwaw aims to prevent the use of tobacco among young people and adults; protect from exposure to second hand tobacco smoke; promote cessation among smokers and provide education and support to those who smoke to help them quit
Ekaya Pihtwaw is working with the First Nation communities of Samson, Montana, Louis Bull, Ermineskin and Pigeon Lake in undertaking this initiative.
The project conducted a survey between February and April of 2015 with 839 adults and 52 youth regarding tobacco use. The survey found that at the present time 45% of the adult population smoke daily and 28% smoke occasionally. It also found 13% of the youth population (under 18) smoke daily and 22% smoke occasionally.
Ekaya Pihtwaw learned that 55% of the current adult smokers started smoking when they were between the ages of 13 and 16 years, so a priority of this project is to focus on prevention activities for children and youth.
The tobacco cessation initiative found that 65% of the current adult smokers have tried to stop smoking at least once – mostly by relying on their own willpower. A priority of the project is to introduce additional cessation supports to encourage more success.
Some of the specific activities will be:
- To advocate for smoke free homes.
- Awareness campaigns of the dangers associated with second hand smoke.
- Tobacco Awareness Workshops.
- Working with parents / families to increase awareness and reduce access to tobacco products for children and youth.
- Peer mentorship programs on smoking cessation for youth.
- School based education and awareness programs to educate youth on the harmful effects of tobacco products.
- Community workshops / presentations by Elders on the cultural use of tobacco for ceremonial purposes.
- Weekly smoking cessation support groups.
Community Wellness programming will include smoking cessation workshops.
Honoured guests who participated in the launch included Elder Margret Montour, Holly Johnson-Rattlesnake, Samson Cree Nation, Justin Strongman, Montana First Nation, Bruce Hinckley, MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose, Randy Littlechild, Executive Director of Maskwacis Health Services, Nina Lindberg, Wetaskiwin Community Addictions & Mental Health and Jackson Heriad EMT/RN, Maskwachees Ambulance Authority. Northern Cree was the host Drum and traditional dances were performed by local dancers pictured above.
The launch began with a 4 kilometre walk followed by an Education and Awareness barbecue at Samson Community Wellness. Two hundred people gathered at the event where exhibitors provided information on the harmful effects of commercial tobacco use. Exhibitors included Ekaya Pihtwaw, Maskwacis Environmental Health, Alberta Health Services, Wetaskiwin Community Addictions & Mental Health, Wetaskiwin Primary Care Network and Samson Community Wellness. Hawk Radio 89.1 FM provided live broadcasting throughout the event.
Ekaya Pihtwaw is funded by the First Nation and Inuit Health, Federal Tobacco Control Strategy.
For more information on how to stop smoking or to have an educational presentation in your workplace or school setting please contact Ekaya Pihtwaw, Samson Community Wellness at (780) 585-3634.