By Krista Lamb
As Diabetes Action Canada completes its first six years of funding, our Network membership is also shifting. One major change is that Dr. Alex McComber, who has expertly led our Indigenous Patient Circle and co-led our program on Indigenous Peoples’ Health since 2016, will be stepping down from this role.
McComber, a member of the Kanien’kehá:ka community of Kahnawake, came to Diabetes Action Canada with a wealth of experience from his work with the Kahnawake School Diabetes Prevention Program, where he was a Diabetes Prevention Intervention Facilitator, Training Coordinator and Executive Director. He has been an incredible asset in helping Diabetes Action Canada develop research programs that had Indigenous Patient Partners at the forefront, and which supported his message of personal empowerment for healthy lifestyles as a key to healing multigenerational trauma.
“You cannot talk about diabetes in Canada without beginning with Frederick Banting and Charles Best. You cannot talk about Indigenous-led community-based diabetes prevention, care and scholarship without first talking about Dr. Alex McComber,” says Dr. Jon McGavock, who co-leads the Indigenous Peoples’ Health program for Diabetes Action Canada. “Every scientist in my generation references the ground breaking work, guided by Alex’s vision for and respect of Haudenosaunee ways of knowing and doing. From an academic standpoint, this work shaped community-based research and Indigenous Health research in Canada as we know it today. To work alongside Alex, is to work alongside one of Canada’s foremost scholars in our field.”
McComber, who is an Assistant Professor with the Dept of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at McGill University in Montreal, will continue his research in the areas of diabetes prevention, Indigenous health promotion, community mobilization, mentorship and Indigenous research methodologies.
“Diabetes Action Canada was so fortunate to have Alex lead the Indigenous Peoples Patient Circle and guide the vision for how our network engaged with and honoured Indigenous voices in Canada,” says McGavock. “Alex’s academic accomplishments and generation-shaping vision for Indigenous health research, pales in comparison to his humanity and friendship. The world is a better place because of the gift the creator gave us—Alex McComber. A warrior whose commitment to justice for his people is matched by the size of his heart and love of his friends and the people he works with. Working with Alex was one of the greatest gifts of my career and life thus far. My life is richer, and my world is a better place because of the gift the creator gave me in the form of Alex’s friendship and mentorship. I hope this is the beginning of the next chapter in that relationship. Niá:wen ki’ wáhi, Alex.”
Diabetes Action Canada’s Indigenous Patient Circle is now co-chaired by Tamara Beardy.