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Giant Colon aims to spread awareness of colon cancer screening amongst Indigenous people in Interlake-Eastern RHA
SELKIRK, MB - Today, health directors and dignitaries from indigenous communities within the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority (RHA) attended an event to learn about opportunities available for colon screening education.

At 20 feet long and 10 feet high, a giant colon was featured to educate attendees on colon cancer and the importance of getting screened. Event participants were able to walk through the giant inflatable colon set up at the Canalta Hotel in Selkirk. They could also book a similar event in their community with the giant inflatable colon and resources to educate community members.
In 2019, the Interlake-Regional Health Authority (RHA) and CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) received funding from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) to understand, address, and overcome barriers to colon cancer screening in Indigenous populations. Together with the support from the Southeast Resource Development Council Corp (SERDC), Interlake Reserves Tribal Council (IRTC) and independent communities: Beren’s River, Sagkeeng, Lake St. Martin and Fisher River the project began. 

“We acknowledge that talking about poop and colon cancer isn’t easy, it’s not something that normally happens at dinner tables in Manitoba. Thinking and talking about poop and colon issues is something that is normally limited to the bathroom or discussion with primary care providers, it may not even be something that spouses feel comfortable discussing,” says Kyra Gawalko, prevention and education lead, CancerCare Manitoba. “But we want people to feel comfortable talking about their health and what they can do to prevent or check for cancers, such as screening for colon cancer. We are hoping to bring about change so those discussions and screening are a part of everyday life for Manitobans.”

Donna Anderson, community engagement liaison in Interlake-Eastern RHA was at Thursday’s event and will be hosting future sessions and providing education in communities.  

“The hope is that this toolkit will raise awareness of the importance of colon cancer screening, and provide an opportunity for multigenerational conversations,” says Anderson.

Between 2005 -2015, colon cancer was the highest diagnosed cancer among First Nations people in Manitoba. As of 2015, First Nations people in the Interlake Region had lower screening rates compared to all other Manitobans in the region. 
In 2021, the project team completed phone-based interviews and safe sharing circles to understand how to address the barriers that may exist. These conversations highlighted the need for local, multigenerational community-based events to raise awareness about colon cancer screening. 

Tracy Abraham and Laryssa Sawchuk, project co-leads say the project has been a great initiative to enhance collaboration and networks.  “We endeavor to learn perspectives on how people can become more aware and increase their participation in cancer screening. We have gained some great information at the local level that led us to provide this Giant Colon Community Tour that aims to increase participation.”

The giant colon roadshow will commence in early 2022 and continue for the first half of the year.

The current colon cancer screening recommendation is that Manitobans age 50 – 74 should complete a home screening test every two years. For more information, please visit:

The giant inflatable 20 feet long, 10 feet high, 13 feet wide colon was set up at the Canalta Hotel in Selkirk on December 16, 2021 to raise awareness of colon cancer screening amongst indigenous people in Interlake-Eastern RHA.
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