AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo Applauds Cole Choken Cancer Run:
Mexico to Canada

OTTAWA, June 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today applauded the initiative and determination of Cole Choken, a First Nation youth from Lake Manitoba First Nation who is running from Mexico to Manitoba to raise awareness and support for cancer research.

"On behalf of the AFN executive and First Nation citizens in Canada, I applaud Cole Choken on his journey to raise awareness and support for cancer research," said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo. "Healthy communities are thriving communities. That's why supporting efforts that promote health and raise awareness of health issues among our people is essential to improving the quality of life in First Nation communities."

Arriving in Ottawa this Friday July 2, The Cole Choken Run for Cancer began January 1, 2010 in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The team, consisting of Choken (24), his mother Brenda and sister Robin, travelled north from Mexico, running approximately 42 kilometers (or one marathon) a day. Their journey will end in Winnipeg, Manitoba on October 2, 2010 at which point Choken will have covered a total of 6,900 kilometers.

At only 24 years of age, this is already Cole's fourth - and longest - awareness run. Previously, he raised over $5,000 for diabetes prevention in various long distance runs in the Winnipeg and Calgary areas.

"Cancer is a battle within my own family. My Great Grandfather passed away of cancer August of last year," said Cole Choken today from the road, adding that he began running for causes in 2006 after a dream where he saw an older man running down a highway, motioning him to join. "Cancer hits us all, in some shape or form. I strongly believe what I am doing is where I need to be in life - to provide hope for the people and break the cycle of this horrific disease. That's what keeps me going, along with encouragement from my Mom and sister. They run with me, drive and cook. They're very encouraging!"

Cancer has become the leading cause of death for First Nations people in some regions and is the third leading cause of death among First Nations as a whole with the incidence of cancer rising faster in First Nation communities than in the general population. Cancer survival rates tend to be worse for First Nation populations because patients are likely to be diagnosed at a later stage of the disease. Although the risk factors are the same for everyone, social determinants of health such as poverty, food security, inadequate housing, poor access to safe drinking water, lack of fresh foods, and exposure to environmental contaminants result in increased vulnerabilities to First Nations.

The AFN is working closely with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer to develop an action plan on cancer control and also working cooperatively with the Canadian Cancer Action Network to ensure the patient's perspective is part of the policy-making process.

"First Nation leadership is committed to better health and improved health resources for all our people," said Manitoba Regional Chief Bill Traverse. "This means working to improve access to family doctors, hospitals and medical equipment, more training for nurses and doctors and more culturally appropriate resource materials for prevention and screening. I want to thank Cole Choken and his family for their commitment and sacrifice in raising awareness and building support for healthy First Nation citizens and healthy First Nation communities. He is a proven role model for all our youth and all First Nations for having taken such a tremendous journey."

Donations for the Cole Choken Cancer Run can be dropped of at Spice World at 862 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R2W 3P1 or mailed to Cancer Care Manitoba Foundation at 675 McDermot Ave, Room ON1160 Winnipeg, MB R3E 0V9 or www.cancercarefdn.mb.ca.

AFN and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. will host a Fun Run Sunday July 18 in Winnipeg, MB in advance of AFN's Annual General Assembly taking place in Winnipeg July 20-22. During the Fun Run, National Chief Atleo will launch an initiative focused on the benefits of healthy lifestyles in First Nation communities.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: For further information: please visit colechokenrun.com or contact: Jenna Young, Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, 613-241-6789, ext 401, 613-314-8157 (mobile), jyoung@afn.ca


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