Since 2016, the Northern Health Bus mobile prevention, education, screening and testing program has spent summers visiting communities across northern Saskatchewan.
Staff member Terri Hansen- Gardiner is one of the staff members that travelled with the Northern Health Bus this summer.
Donated to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency (SCA) by Cameco, the bus visits more than 20 northern communities, seeing 2,500-3,000 people annually. Community stops are by invitation and often coordinated with local events like Treaty Days, wellness/outreach events, family or culture camps.
“Working with communities to identify local needs and prioritize solutions has created a sense of shared ownership,” explained Margot Gough, SCA Population Health Promotion Practitioner.
In addition to cancer education and screening programs, the bus responds to community requests for testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), Hepatitis C, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and blood glucose levels, and tobacco cessation and nutrition information.
The James Smith First Nation pow wow was among many of the stops the Northern Health Bus made during its summer prevention, education and testing tour in northern Saskatchewan.
Community response has been positive. Key to local buy-in has been involvement of cancer survivors and Indigenous staff including nursing and education students.
“The ability to communicate in a local dialect allows for genuine participation with community members and creates opportunities for conversations that would not happen otherwise,” said Gough.