Sandra Slobodian

Esquimalt, British Columbia
BC Generations Project participant since 2009

What do you think are the most important issues facing the health of Canadians?

I think cancer is the top health issue, and I have concerns about food regulations such as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and farmed fish.

Why did you decide to get involved with the BC Generations Project?

I hoped that I could help with research, and my family is Metis, which I thought might be important. The Metis by definition are composites of European and Indigenous and the variations in [our] collective data might be interesting and helpful [to researchers].

I am a Metis through my mother. My mother’s mother was from Athabasca area on her mother’s side and Red River settlement on her father’s side. My mother’s father was from the Red River Settlement for three generations and prior to that, lived in Quebec and Nova Scotia.

My father’s mother was from Germany and his father was from Ireland.

I think many First Nations people are a great source of generational information, but may be wary of participating in research projects because many have been over studied, abused by government policies and may not trust the process.

I’ve often thought that, in the full view of human history, Indigenous people have not been exposed to Western diseases and diet for very long, and may still be suffering — though not dying from — small pox [and other diseases].

Do you have any personal experience with cancer and/or other chronic diseases?

My mother, father, sister and daughter have all had cancer.

If there was one thing you could change about health care in your community, what would it be?

Innovation in community clinics — such as extended care and alternative approaches to health — could  encourage more people go into general practice.

My husband was a physician involved in the James Bay Community Project in Victoria, which was a revolutionary project where families, youth, seniors and other community members find the support they need.

What would you say to another Canadian who’s thinking about getting involved in Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project?

These kinds of mega-data studies are one way to find hidden solutions to health issues.

We don’t really know how much about how diet, exercise, environment and other factors are at the centre of health issues, and I think we need more data to guide better living, counter [health] fads and [our] reliance on chemical solutions.