The Grand Council of the Crees


Diabetes Most Important Health Problem

Posted: 2011-02-02

As interim Director of Public Health for Eeyou Istchee, I am pleased to present the 2009 report on diabetes in the territory. Monitoring and reporting on the health status of the population is a primary mandate of Public Health and, since 1997, the Public Health Department has documented the rise of diabetes using the Cree Diabetes Information System (CDIS). 

This report demonstrates once again that diabetes is one of the most important health problem in the region. The report identifies three principal trends which every Cree decision-maker and every healthcare provider should be aware of: 

First, the number of people with diabetes in Eeyou Istchee continues to rise. In 1983, 2.4% of Eeyouch had diabetes. This has increased to 21.4% in 2009. In the past 3 years (2007-2009), 339 Cree adults were newly diagnosed with diabetes, and there are now a total of 1910 Cree living with the disease.

Second, Cree people are being diagnosed with diabetes at a younger age. In 1989, the average age at diagnosis was 48 years; in 2009, it was 41 years. This is approximately 20 years younger than the age people get diagnosed with diabetes in the rest of Quebec.

Third, diabetes continues to affect more Cree women than men. This is alarming because babies born to women who have diabetes during pregnancy (either gestational diabetes or Type 2 diabetes) are at much higher risk of becoming obese during childhood and developing diabetes at a young age.

Taken together, these statistics show the importance of mobilizing the communities in a collective effort to halt or slow down the diabetes epidemic. This is the goal of the Maamuu Nakaahehtaau campaign, an effort led by the Public Health Department to support the development of healthy public policies for diabetes prevention across the region. 

Our public health mandate from the Public Health Act of Québec gives us the responsibility to promote health, prevent disease, protect from illness and report on the state of health of the population. This 2009 Annual Diabetes Report demonstrates the importance of the reporting role of Public Health. Indeed, high quality information and carefully considered analysis are indispensible to our efforts to provide the very best healthcare services to the population of Eeyou Istchee. 

Richard Lessard
Director of Public Health (interim)
Public Health Department of the Cree Territory of James Bay

For more information contact: David Dannenbaum ( or Elena Kuzmina (

CDIS 2009 Annual Update:

Full report/rapport:

Executive summary / resumé :