TREK: B.C. minister Mike de Jong to walk 150km across India to raise diabetes awareness

JONATHAN FOWLIE
POSTMEDIA NEWS

Finance Minister Mike de Jong says he’ll travel 220 km across the Punjab next month, 150 km by foot to raise awareness of chronic diseases in South Asia.

VICTORIA — Finance Minister Mike de Jong will spend five days next month walking across northwestern India, an effort he said is meant to raise awareness for diabetes and other chronic diseases that disproportionately affect members of the South Asian community.

“I’m going for a walk across the Punjab,” he declared in a recent interview, making clear his awareness-raising adventure in northwestern India will not just be a casual saunter.

“I’ve only got five days. It [the total distance] is about 220 kilometres. I’ll probably walk about 150 kilometres of it,” he said, explaining he will go from Amritsar to Chandigarh and plans to cover about 30 to 35 kilometres a day.

The rest of the distance, he said, he will cover by car.

De Jong, who as finance minister has announced strict limits on travel and other spending, said he will personally pay all his own travel costs related to the walk.

“I’m covering all the costs for that, including the airplane ticket, myself,” he said decisively.

He explained the for the trip idea came together several months ago, while he was still B.C.’s minister of health.

De Jong represents Abbotsford West, which has a high South Asian population. In a recent interview, he recalled looking at the high incidence of diabetes and certain other chronic diseases among the South Asian population, and wondering what more could be done.

So when the BC Liberal government began planning a trip to India to open two provincial trade offices — including one in the Punjab capital of Chandigarh — he was the first to volunteer.

“I thought maybe this is a chance to profile some of that [awareness raising],” he said, adding he has been to the area many times before.

“So I said, ‘I’ll buy a ticket, I’ll go early, I’ll go to Amritsar and we’ll walk from Amritsar to Chandigarh.’”

De Jong said the plan is to hold information sessions in selected towns and villages, and to hand out literature from the InterCultural Online Health Network elsewhere along the way.

The information sessions, he said, will be conducted by Dr. Gulzar Cheema, a doctor and former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister who is joining de Jong on the walk. Cheema is also paying his own way.

De Jong added the trip has the support of the Canadian High Commissioner in Delhi, as well as the consul-general in Chandigarh.

After the walk, de Jong said he plans to officially open provincial trade offices in Chandigarh and Mumbai. He said costs incurred on those days will be paid for by the taxpayer.

De Jong added the Dec. 3-7 walk is not just limited to an Indian audience, as he said December is a time when tens of thousands of Indo-Canadians, from across the country, return to their home villages in the Punjab.

“Fifty thousand to seventy thousand Indo-Canadians visit at this time,” said Cheema.

“We are asking people who are visiting Punjab during that time from B.C. and other parts to join us on the way so they can start raising awareness and become diabetic coaches in the future.”

Cheema added that given the high incidence of diabetes among South Asians, it is vitally important to spread awareness about the benefits of healthy living.

“In my practice I see 10 to 15 diabetics a day. We have a huge population of South Asians in Canada and out of that I think 20 per cent are diabetic,” said Cheema, who has diabetes himself.

He added that he and de Jong hope that the awareness will spread long after the trip is done.

“People who are diabetic who have gained enough knowledge to manage their diabetes well,” he said, “we are hoping that eventually those people will become diabetic educators.”

 

Tags: , , , , , ,





Featured

Nina Davuluri

Miss America asks US high school to reconsider suspending student who asked her to prom

 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS  YORK, Pa. — Miss America is asking a Pennsylvania school district to reconsider the punishment of a high school senior who asked…
Continue Reading »

biniaz

Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz onto new ventures after Miss Universe Canada reign (w/ gallery)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Life hasn’t always been glamorous for Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz. The Indian-born and Iran-raised beauty spent most of her elementary…
Continue Reading »

PNG0419NVAISAKHI-13_215499176

Gallery: 200,000 flood Surrey streets for annual Vaisakhi parade

VANCOUVER DESI About 200, 000 people came out for Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade on Saturday. Vaisakhi – which celebrates the Punjab harvest time and the…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

biniaz

Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz onto new ventures after Miss Universe Canada reign (w/ gallery)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Life hasn’t always been glamorous for Vancouver beauty queen Sahar Biniaz. The Indian-born and Iran-raised beauty spent most of her elementary…
Continue Reading »

PNG0419NVAISAKHI-13_215499176

Gallery: 200,000 flood Surrey streets for annual Vaisakhi parade

VANCOUVER DESI About 200, 000 people came out for Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade on Saturday. Vaisakhi – which celebrates the Punjab harvest time and the…
Continue Reading »

Kirpans, stylized swords worn by initiated Sikh men and women as dictated by  their religious beliefs, are now allowed in embassies. Jason Payne/ PNG

Canada to allow Sikh kirpans in its embassies and missions abroad

JEFF LACROIX-WILSON OTTAWA CITIZEN Eight years after the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that kirpans – the ceremonial daggers worn by those of the Sikh…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

File photo: Indian villagers gather near the body of an elephant in a field in the northeastern state of Assam on July 8, 2013. It is believed that the elephant was electrocuted by power lines as they walked through fields of growing rice at night . STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Four elephants die from shoddy electrical wires in Indian forest

VANCOUVER DESI A wild elephant has died after it was electrocuted when it stumbled into low hanging electrical wires in a northeastern Indian forest, according…
Continue Reading »

Indian Lovers Party

Gallery: Weird Indian political party names and symbols

VANCOUVER DESI In a country with over 800 million eligible voters, which symbol you vote for is very important. The largest political parties have simple…
Continue Reading »

worship-India

Six-year-old worshipped for patch of hair on his back that has grown into a tail

VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old Indian boy is being worshipped by villagers for a small patch of hair on his back that has grown into a…
Continue Reading »

underage-sex-pregnancy-Britain

Opinion: Britain’s youngest mom — 12-year-old — isn’t a case for the midwife, it’s a case for the police

ALLISON PEARSON THE DAILY TELEGRAPH  A girl aged 12 years and three months became Britain’s youngest mother over the weekend. She was still at primary…
Continue Reading »

nude bath

PETA India urges health ministry to ban sale of animal-tested products

IANS New Delhi – Animal rights group PETA has urged India’s health ministry to ban the marketing and sale of animal-tested cosmetics and household products….
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Porn Queen-desi

Sunny Leone to host MTV reality dating show

IANS New Delhi — Indo-Canadian adult film star Sunny Leone is back to where she started her career in Hindi showbiz – the small screen….
Continue Reading »

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra showcases a creation by designer Neeta Lulla on the sixth day of the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) summer/resort 2014 in Mumbai on March 16, 2014. STRSTRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

Mary Kom shoot harder than hardest for Priyanka

IANS Mumbai  – Months of turmoil for Mary Kom have been “harder than the hardest” for Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, who plays the title role…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Amitabh Bachchan’s Bhoothnath Returns screened before Indian president

IANS New Delhi  – Megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s latest film Bhoothnath Returns, a fun-filled film which also highlights the importance of voting, was screened for President…
Continue Reading »