COVID-19 and Diabetes Resources

Recognizing that the most vulnerable population that will be impacted by COVID-19 is people with chronic conditions like diabetes, the National Indigenous Diabetes Association Board of Directors is sharing some information with you to help you during these times.

The Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council (I·SPARC) has shared their existing YouTube workout channel for their FitNation exercises. The format is 2 exercises and 1 workout per week (Movement Monday, Wiggle Wednesday and Flex Friday), all with different levels to each workout.

ISPARC is also currently developing videos with their FitNation leaders who will be filming additional exercises from across British Columbia to share with Turtle Island, including such things as Elders workout, introductory workout, intermediate workout, advanced workout and a high intensity workout, all ranging from 10-20 minutes long.

ISPARC also recently release its Healthy Living e-bulletin that informs about healthy living at home during these times.

“For the Healthy Living team, maintaining our physical and mental wellness is key to adapting to our new world. We wanted to share some of our favourite ways we’re taking care of our wellness during this time of uncertainty. And we chose to pair our tips with one of our favourite plants, NETTLE! Nettle is an incredibly versatile, resilient plant that grows in huge patches – where you find one, you’re sure to find another! And that’s our current feeling on today: we are strong, resilient people, with endless wellness options at our fingertips, and we are in this TOGETHER!

Here is a link to some online FitNation workouts with Indigenous leaders across the province. There are 3 full workouts (introductory, intermediate and advanced)

FitNation Workout

Make cookies. Cookies are good for the soul and a fun family activity. We’re loving these peanut butter cookies from our pal, Rachel Dickens.

Think about your garden. Growing season is just around the corner and what a perfect time to start growing your own food.

Get outside!! The spring air feels so good, and there’s nothing better for your immune system than a few deep inhalations among some tree friends. The Japanese call it Forest Bathing (

Nourish your body. Being at home more makes us more inspired to get in the kitchen. Check out Healthyish for easy(ish) healthy(ish) ideas!

Listen to podcasts. Our pals at Teachings in the Air are our #1 🙂

Teachings In The Air is a new podcast focusing on Indigenous health and wellness that aims to inspire, motivate, and empower men to be sound in mind, body and spirit – because that’s what healthy means.”

Robynne Edgar, Director of Healthy Living at ISPARC and NIDA Board Director, is also sharing these recipes and information on various teas…

A quick note on the importance of tea:

Many of you may have listened to the audio clip currently circulating on COVID-19 and how the Chinese are coming to understand the behavior of the virus based on recent autopsies.

Yesterday I connected with some of my herbalist friends and colleagues and it seems there is a lot of merit to the recommendations being brought forward, such as the importance of hot beverages at the onset of a sore throat. Lucky for us we all love tea so much 🙂

So why tea?

Tea making can be an art, it’s a science, and a part of many ceremonies and cultures around the world.

Dried herbs are used for tea because during the drying process, plant cell walls break open and dehydrate, creating the opportunity for osmosis when you pour boiling water over these plants, allowing the herb to extract it’s medicine! You can use fresh plants as well, however you will need to chop VERY finely, and it won’t be quite as strong!

Long story short, DRINK TEA…and lots of it ☺

“My son Coleman invented this relaxing nighttime blend aptly named “Coleman’s Sleepy Tea” with antiviral/bacterial herbs.

Coleman’s Sleepy Tea:

1 teaspoon Skullcap or Scullcap
1 teaspoon Lemon Balm
2 teaspoons Peppermint
1 cup boiling water
Steep covered for 15-20 minutes

Fun Fact: All these plants are in the mint family & high in volatile oils, therefore should always be covered while steeping to keep in the medicine!

More information:

Scullcap is a calming herb for the nervous system and also excellent for tension headaches. It can reduce anxiety and has antibacterial and antiviral properties, nice for people who are over stimulated or overwhelmed. If you can’t find Scullcap tea you can always purchase tincture/extract and use 1-2 dropperfuls (30 drops) per one cup of tea! All of the herbs in this blend can also be used individually, however I prefer to blend Scullcap as it can be bitter.

Peppermint is mostly known to be a calming herb, relieving stress, anxiety and mental strain. It also assists with digestion although some people experience heartburn if they consume too much. It’s the menthol present in peppermint that relaxes muscles and acts as an antispasmodic! I like to think of peppermint as the salt of herbs….meaning it can be used in almost any tea blend to bring together or “marry” all of the other flavors, just like salt does in cooking!

Lemonbalm (or Melissa) – this section is brought to you from my friend and fellow Herbalist Valerie Segrest from Muckleshoot Tribes!

“The gladdening herb. Very safe herb for such a complex herb that does a lot of things. Great for wintertime depression, SAD, ADD, helps lower thyroid a little and used in Europe for high thyroid – great for someone who feels hot and racy / manic all the time, stressed. Good for hyperactive kids, antiviral, fights for Epstein bar family of viruses, good for common colds, Topically: Lemonbalm essential oil (is very expensive) 3 or 4 drops – can use for shingles mixed with St. Johns Wort infused oil, 3 or 4 drops of heilcrysum (or everlasting) essential oil”

Nettle & Mint Tea

Nettle is a bio accumulator, meaning it easily absorbs toxins and heavy metals from the environment where it grows! SO, when harvesting stinging nettle always make sure you are doing so on clean soil. This aspect of nettle also acts the same way in your body when you ingest it as food!

Nettle is a SUPER food and it kicks ass on Spinach and Kale.

Nettles are the first wild offering of our Creator, nourishing our bodies with all the vitamins and minerals we need after a long winter!

If you can’t get out to harvest your own Stinging Nettles, “traditional medicinal” teas sells it in teabag form at most grocery stores, or you can purchase loose nettle tea at Self Heal Herbs in Victoria or from the Community Farm Store in Duncan.

Directions for Nettle Tea:

Steep 1 tablespoon dried Nettle in 1 cup of water for a minimum 20 minutes (preferably overnight if possible) to extract it’s many wonderful nutrients.

Add 1-2 teaspoons of mint for something extra peppy and just add a bit more water!!

Lemon, Ginger, Honey Tea

Lemon – Lemon is a great medicine, it loosens and breaks down mucus allowing you to cough it up, it is high in vitamin C & flavonoids (antioxidant) therefore strengthening to your immune system!!

Ginger – Ginger is warming and as a result, promotes blood flow and can help break a fever. It
contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds and is a
classic home remedy for sore throats, asthma, arthritis, and other conditions that are improved by
reducing inflammation. Ginger also helps to expel mucus
and can ease coughs and stubborn respiratory
congestion including bronchitis. I would also highly recommend cooking with a lot of ginger, and garlic.

Honey – Honey is a MIRACULOUS substance. For millennia, raw honey has been revered for its nutritive, immune stimulating and antimicrobial qualities. Fun fact, 2,000-year-old honey was found in tombs in the Egyptian pyramids. Honey contains over 75 different compounds including vitamins, minerals, and proteins. One of my favorite authors on Herbal Antibiotics, Stephen Harrod Buhner, highlights recent scientific studies that affirm honey’s medicinal effectiveness for treating antibiotic resistant bacteria, traumatic wounds, severe burns, diabetic ulcers, respiratory ailments and immune deficiencies – just to name a few. He claims that honey is the premier wound healer on this planet.


If using fresh ginger (fresh is best) a decoction is recommended because it is a root! Decoction is just a fancy way of saying add cold water to your ginger and bring to a boil on stovetop… then let simmer for 20-30 minutes (covered if possible).

Add fresh squeezed lemon and honey after your decoction is done.

Make a lot and keep in fridge for up to 3 days.

A medicinal strength tea ratio is 1 tablespoon of herb to 1 cup of water (drink 3-6 cups per day)

Indigenous Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative – APPLY

To support Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs who are ready to launch agriculture and food systems projects and others who want to build their capacity to participate in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector. Maximum of $500,000 per year for 5 years.

Salmon Soup Recipe, shared from our friends at FNHA

4 cups (1 L) water
¼ lb. (125 g) salmon roe
1 lb. (500 g) fresh salmon, cubed
½ lb. (250 g) potato, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch curry powder
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Dry seaweed for garnish


In a large soup pot, sauté onion, celery and potato in oil.

Add water and bring to a simmer.

Heat salmon roe in a small saucepan and add to soup stock.

Add salmon, salt, pepper, curry powder and bay leaf.

Bring to a boil.

Simmer over low heat until potatoes are just tender.

Discard bay leaf.

Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with dry seaweed.

Shared from our friends at FNHA 🙂

COVID-19 Resources

During this unprecedented time, we will continue to follow the rapidly changing situation with COVID-19 and provide resources as they become available…

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Information from CDC

WHO myth busters – COVID-19

NIDA Board Director Laurie Ann Nicholas has shared the following about food safety, as found in an article in the National Post…

“COVID-19 food safety: Separating the myths from the facts
What food safety practices should you adopt during the COVID-19 pandemic? A professor of food science dispels the myths”
by Laura Brehaut
April 7, 2020

As well, Dietitians of Canada has shared some great information via frequently asked questions on their site…

Dietitians of Canada Advice for the general public about COVID-19
Updated April 1, 2020

Dietitians of Canada and dietitians across the country have been asked a number of questions about nutrition and dietary issues related to the COVID-19 / Coronavirus outbreak.

It is important to receive information from credible, trustworthy sources during this time. Dietitians are regulated health professionals committed to providing evidence-based advice and information that is tailored to your personal needs and challenges.

Can I boost my immune system through my diet?

Simply put, you cannot “boost” your immune system through diet and no specific food, supplement or natural health product will prevent you from catching COVID-19. Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others.

There are many nutrients that are involved with the normal functioning of the immune system and therefore we encourage eating a variety of healthy foods each day in order to support immune function.

The bottom line is that a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables, protein foods and whole grains is important for a strong immune system as are other healthy lifestyle habits (e.g exercise, not smoking, adequate sleep, managing stress etc).

You can find more information on nutrition and healthy eating at or Health Canada’s, Canada’s Food Guide.

What nutrition advice would you give for someone who may have contracted COVID-19 and is self-isolating as a result?

At this time, there are no natural health products or dietary supplements that are authorized to treat or protect against COVID-19.

If you are self-isolating and especially if you have symptoms, it is important to maintain good nutrition and hydration. Make sure you are eating and drinking regularly, even if you have a low appetite.

If you have specific nutrition needs, it is important that you continue to follow the dietary recommendations made by your dietitian, doctor or nurse practitioner. This may involve asking a family member, friend or neighbour to get you specific foods so you can continue to meet your specific needs. Contact your dietitian, doctor or nurse practitioner by phone or email if you have serious concerns.

Everyone is encouraged to be aware of people in their community that may have difficulty accessing food, and look for ways to support each other.

What should I do to prepare?

At this time, it makes sense to stock up on non-perishable food items so that you do not need to go shopping if you become sick, but avoid panic buying.

It is easier on the supply chain if people gradually build up their household stores instead of making large-scale purchases all at once. To do this, you can add a few extra items to your grocery cart every time you shop. Good options are easy-to-prepare foods like:
• dried pasta and sauce
• prepared canned soups
• canned vegetables and beans

It is also a good idea to have extra stores of:
• pet food
• toilet paper
• facial tissue
• feminine hygiene products
• diapers (if you have children who use them)

The reason for stocking up on these items is not necessarily because you will need to self-isolate. Having these supplies on hand will ensure you do not need to leave your home at the peak of the outbreak or if you become ill.

Visit the Government of Canada’s website for more information on being prepared.

Can COVID-19 be spread by eating or touching raw fruits and vegetables?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through eating or touching raw fruits or vegetables. When preparing fresh fruits and vegetables, wash or scrub them under cold, running, potable tap water prior to consumption.

Visit the Government of Canada’s website or local public health authorities like BC Centre for Disease Control or MAPAQ for more information on food safety.

How do I find a dietitian?

It is important to receive information from credible, trustworthy sources during this time. Dietitians are a regulated health profession committed to providing evidence-based advice and information that is tailored to your personal needs and challenges.

There are several ways to connect with a dietitian. When contacting a dietitian, ask if virtual appointments are available.

  1. Your family doctor or specialist may be able to refer you to an outpatient clinic with access to a dietitian. The dietitian in these clinics would be covered, or paid for, by your province.
  2. If you belong to a Family Health Team or Primary Care Network, ask to speak to the dietitian.
  3. Public Health Units and Community Health Centres offer counselling, free programs and workshops with access to a dietitian. Criteria to access these services will depend on the program and organization.
  4. If you receive homecare services, you can call your case manager to see if they can connect you with a dietitian. A physician’s referral is typically not required.
  5. You can also see a dietitian and pay a fee for an appointment. Visit Find a Dietitian to find someone in your neighbourhood and search by postal code, city and/or specialty. Your employee benefits may cover dietitian services. Check your plan today.
  6. If you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, you can ask your doctor or self-refer to a publicly funded Diabetes Education Program.
  7. These provinces have Provincial Call Centres where you can speak with a dietitian at no cost:
    o In British Columbia, call 8-1-1 or visit the website.
    o In Manitoba, call toll free 1-877-830-2892 or 204-788-8248 in Winnipeg, or visit the website.
    o In Ontario, call Telehealth Ontario toll free at 1-866-797-0000.
    o In Newfoundland & Labrador, call 8-1-1 or send an email.
    o In Saskatchewan, contact Eat Well Saskatchewan by phone 1-833-966-5541 or email

Should I continue to breastfeed my baby if I have COVID-19 or suspect I have COVID-19?

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) have released a statement on COVID-19 in pregnancy. Within this statement, they make the following postpartum and newborn care recommendations:
• Women who choose to breastfeed should be allowed to do so after appropriate handwashing and while wearing a mask. It is possible that the mother can transmit antibodies to the infant through breastmilk; however, there is limited evidence of this transmission and the potential benefits are unclear.
• Management in the post-partum period should be guided by a patient-centred discussion about the available evidence and its limitations.
• We do not recommend universal isolation of the infant from either confirmed or suspected infection in the mother. However, depending on a family’s values and availability of resources they may choose to separate infant from mother until isolation precautions for the mother can be formally discontinued.
• Women should practice good handwashing before and use of a mask while engaging in infant care.
Please refer to the SOGC website for up to date information.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (United Kingdom) have also issued wide ranging advice relating to breastfeeding COVID-19 / Coronavirus and pregnancy. Within this they make the following recommendations:

“At the moment there is no evidence that the virus can be carried in breastmilk, so it’s felt that the well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.

The main risk of breastfeeding is close contact between you and your baby, as you may share infective airborne droplets, leading to infection of the baby after birth.

A discussion about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding should take place between you and your family and your maternity team.

If you choose to breastfeed your baby, the following precautions are recommended:
• Wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles
• Try and avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while feeding at the breast;
• Consider wearing a face mask while breastfeeding, if available
• Follow recommendations for pump cleaning after each use
If you choose to feed your baby with formula or expressed milk, it is recommended that you follow strict adherence to sterilisation guidelines. If you are expressing breast milk in hospital, a dedicated breast pump should be used.”

This guidance may change as knowledge evolves, so please refer to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website for up to date advice.

You can also visit Unicef’s website for additional information on what parents should know about COVID-19.

Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle has added a lot of accessible content to their social media…

Quarantine Video Messages from:

• IDHC Leadership
• Elders Renee Thomas-Hill and Alan Jamieson Sr.
• Subject-Matter Experts such as Joseph Pitawanakwat on Traditional Medicines, Foot Care Program, Traditional Practitioners on self-care
• Promoting and Sharing the work and information as provided by partner organizations such as:
• Quarantine Indigenous Reading List from Toronto Public Library and other favourites
• Quarantine Comedy (Charlie Hill)
• Connection to Virtual Pow Wow and allied virtual events
• Quarantine Culture for Adults (Music)
• Quarantine Culture for Kids (games, story telling)

Modification of Existing IDHC Programming:

• Cooking with Chef Laura Lenson, cooking classes now available on our Facebook feed
• DEP services such as one on one session with Elders and Traditional Practitioners are now offered by phone appointments
• Foot Care Practitioners in process of setting up phone support appointments
• May 7, 1pm on line foot care demonstration for self care, mail out of self care kits across Ontario to participants (will be announced on our face book page)
• June 18th, online workshop, Men’s Health with Cody McGregor (will be announced on our Facebook page)
• On-line Nutrition Bingo TBA, incentives of grocery gift certificates for participants
• TBA, online fitness classes, yoga

IDHC Diabetes Community Support Workers Certification:

• Promoting front line workers to be certified as Diabetes Community Support Workers and other equivalencies as relevant to front line workers experiences in partnership with ICBOC. All certifications completed on-line
• TBA next training module that is being modified to be fully on-line


• IDHC is redistributing supplies from the foot care program, masks and gloves, to Aboriginal Health Access Centres
• Working with NIDA re: Food Response, gathering medicines and growing food information
• Purchase of bulk order of hand sanitizers and gloves for redistribution

Some at-home activity tips from NIDA Board Director David Gill

Stuck at home?

Kids need to move?

Here’s a fun workout you can do as a family in front of your screen!

Healthy Eating

Recipes for healthy eating during COVID-19 from your community nutritionists at FNIHB Healthy Eating Cookbook

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National Indigenous Diabetes Association Inc.
202-160 Provencher Blvd
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
R2H 0G3

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