Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber, on behalf of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today announced federal support for a project designed to help reduce cigarette smoking rates among Aboriginal people in Alberta.

The project is a three-year community based initiative that will adapt cessation training modules to be more culturally appropriate and train cessation leaders to help Aboriginals quit non-traditional tobacco use.

"This project will provide Aboriginals with the tools they need to decrease the misuse of tobacco and increase cessation rates while supporting the sacred use of tobacco and the health and well-being of Aboriginal people," said Mr. Rathgeber.

The Aboriginal Tobacco Cessation Project will be undertaken by the Nechi Training, Research and Health Promotions Institute, an Aboriginal movement committed to holistic healing and healthy, addictions-free lifestyles. Nechi's mandate is to provide culturally relevant training in the area of addictions to Aboriginal people and professionals who work with Aboriginal people. Some of the partners the organization will work with include: the Tobacco Reduction Unit of Alberta Health Services; the University of Alberta; Poundmaker's Lodge; and the Wood Buffalo Tobacco Coalition which will engage First Nations surrounding the Fort McMurray area and Treaty Eight territory.

These partners will help provide best practice information for the content of teaching modules, advise on implementation and provide knowledge and community connections for trainers throughout Aboriginal communities in Alberta.

"The Government of Canada is proud to be working with the provinces, territories and communities across the country to help curb non-traditional tobacco use among Aboriginal populations," said Minister Aglukkaq.

"Health Canada's support for this project will assist Nechi in developing a tobacco cessation curriculum as well as evaluating, piloting and monitoring tobacco cessation for cultural health and well-being within the Alberta Aboriginal population," said Josie Auger, Chief Executive Officer of the Nechi Institute. "Given that tobacco is a sacred plant for Aboriginals, the focus of this project is on the non-traditional use of tobacco."

Health Canada is committed to reducing tobacco use among Canadians. Under the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy, the department is taking a multi-faceted approach to ensure that fewer youth begin smoking and that smokers who want to quit and stay tobacco-free get the help they need.

The aim of the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy over the next three years is to reduce tobacco-related disease and death in Canada. The strategy will continue to be based on an internationally recognized, comprehensive, integrated and sustained approach to tobacco control with the four key elements of prevention, cessation, protection and harm reduction.

Since 2001, the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy has helped reduce smoking prevalence in Canada from 22 percent to 18 percent. However, more remains to be done, with approximately five million Canadians still smoking and 37,000 dying each year from preventable tobacco-related diseases.

The Nechi Training, Research and Health Promotions Institute will receive $371,349 for the Aboriginal Tobacco Cessation Project. Please visit the Nechi Institute's website for more information on the Nechi Institute.

Please visit Health Canada's website for more information on Health Canada's tobacco control efforts.

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