Chief Marcel Moody reflects on his community’s investment in SciMar

Chief Marcel Moody
Chief Marcel Moody: “To develop successfully as a community, we need a strong economic base. And even more important, we need a healthy population.”

The following is an edited transcript of a speech delivered by Chief Marcel Moody on December 7, 2019, at a SciMar investor event. Chief Moody is the leader of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN) in Manitoba.

Thank you for the introduction and good afternoon everyone.

I want to tell you about a picture in my mind that I’ll never be able to erase. Years ago I was visiting a friend in the hospital in Thompson. From the other side of the curtain, the other patient in the room said: “Hey Marcel! Is that you?”

I didn’t know who it was, but obviously that person recognized my voice. I pulled back the curtain and there was my old broomball buddy, Hubert. I hadn’t seen him in years. He greeted me from his bed with his big smile, but he couldn’t wave or shake my hand. That’s because both of his arms had been amputated. Both of his legs, too. And he was blind. Hubert was another casualty of the type 2 diabetes epidemic.

It’s hard to find a family in my community, Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation, that hasn’t been touched by this disease. My own wife, Marie, has been successfully managing her diabetes for 32 years. For many others, that journey is even more disruptive, more painful, and more frightening. For some, it includes travelling to Thompson, 90 kilometres away, two or three times a week to get dialysis as their kidneys are failing.

As SciMar investors, we all know that this disease is growing in prominence and affecting many people in Manitoba and the world. Simply put, type 2 diabetes is a crisis in Manitoba’s north and it’s getting worse.

When we met with Mick Lautt (SciMar’s CEO), we learned about SciMar’s science and about the investment opportunity. We paid attention. From a health perspective, we are eager for a new approach, a new direction. We need better outcomes for people who have this disease and we need better strategies and tools for preventing the disease in the first place. SciMar really impressed us from a health perspective. It also impressed us as an investment. And so, in partnership with the NCN Family and Community Wellness Centre, our nation invested in SciMar.

At NCN, we’re working very hard to strengthen our community’s infrastructure and economy for our children and grandchildren. And so we take our business and investment decisions very seriously. We are partners with Manitoba Hydro in the Wuskwatim generating station. We own a grocery store in Thompson and in Opaskwayak Cree Nation. We own a hotel and a gas station in Thompson. We’ve invested in cannabis. We’re involved in many other ventures.

On the infrastructure side, we recently completed the construction of a women’s shelter and $9 million multiplex. And we’re building a new high school and a new water treatment plant among many other projects in our community.

To develop successfully as a community, we need a strong economic base. And even more important, we need a healthy population. You can make all of these investments, but if there are no people to support the investment, then it’s useless, right? So a key to the strength of our First Nation is economic development, but we also have a social conscience and that’s why it was so important for us to invest with SciMar.

We see our relationship with SciMar as a key contributor to the achievement of our objectives. We are hopeful, we are optimistic, we’re excited, and we’re eager for a new reality in the fight against type 2 diabetes for communities in Manitoba and for people everywhere.

I think it’s an exciting opportunity for our nation, for our people. We hope that this research is going to be finished as soon as possible because I’ve heard that eight out of 10 people in this world are going to be affected by diabetes.

This is a tremendous economic growth opportunity for us. More importantly, I think we can find a cure so people don’t have to suffer. So, I’m glad that we are part of the investment and I’m excited to be part of this process and hopefully things happen quickly. So with that, thank you for listening to my presentation and good luck to the research team. Thank you.