When Emily’s mother lay dying of kidney failure from years of diabetes, Emily begged the doctors to take her kidney and transplant it into her mom. But the doctors refused — Emily had diabetes too. She would need both kidneys herself.
Like many Indigenous groups around the world, the James Bay Cree of northern Québec have a disproportionately high rate of diabetes. They’re facing it down with a decidedly Indigenous solution: A Talking Circle in print.
In 2012, the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB) assigned local Cree health representatives to choose people with diabetes whose stories they thought significant — people like Emily. Then they hired me, (a freelance writer and academic), to bring them into print.
Gathered in The Sweet Bloods of Eeyou Istchee: Stories of Diabetes and the James Bay Cree, the stories, at least as much about life in the North as they are about diabetes, are part record, part awareness-raising. They reveal unmistakable connections to colonization. And they are meant to help people heal.