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Lennox Island voters not hopeful election will lead to better health care

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Lennox Island voters not hopeful election will lead to better health care

Lennox Island First Nation voters know what they need: better health care and more support for the large proportion of the population that lives with diabetes.

For Lennox Island voters, there's a need for better health care, but not much faith in federal politicians

Newly elected Chief Darlene Bernard said she is hoping to lobby whoever gets elected in the upcoming federal election. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Lennox Island First Nation voters know what they need: better health care and more support for the large proportion of the population that lives with diabetes.

Right now, a doctor visits Lennox Island's health centre a few days a week and only does about 10 appointments a day. But that doctor is expected to retire soon, and more and more often, it's a nurse practitioner visiting in his place.

Sitting in the health centre on a Wednesday morning, Charlie Lewis said he's one of the lucky ones. 

“I mean I have a doctor but there's people here that don't have one,” he said. “There's something that needs to be fixed.”

Charlie Lewis waits for his appointment at the Lennox Island health centre. A doctor visits the centre a few days a week. Recently, it's been a nurse practitioner. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

More doctors, support for diabetes needed

Newly elected Chief Darlene Bernard said she is hoping to lobby whoever gets elected in the upcoming federal election for a full-time doctor dedicated to serving Lennox Island.

“Help us to deal with finding innovative and better ways to deal with the incidence of diabetes, which is very prevalent in our communities right across the country,” Bernard said.

Lennox Island Chief Darlene Bernard says she's optimistic about working with the federal parties on the need for a permanent full-time doctor in the community. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

It's a problem that Paula Clory knows all too well. She lives with diabetes, and said almost everyone she knows on Lennox Island does too.

“If they don't have it, they're probably going to get it,” Clory said.

She said she wants the election to lead to better day-to-day support for people who have the disease. Currently the health centre has a dietitian and a nurse that helps with foot care.

“With that many people that have diabetes, they get stretched pretty thin,” Clory said.

'A lot of trash talk'

The needs on Lennox Island are clear, but for some of its 253 eligible voters, knowing who to vote for is not. A common theme among voters is a general dislike or distrust of federal party leaders.

“They all seem to be promising a lot of stuff but a lot of talk, a lot of trash talk,” said Lewis, who's currently undecided.

Destiny Myers says right now, none of the federal party leaders has her vote. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Clory knows how she'll mark her ballot come Oct. 21, but said it's like picking “which lesser of all evil.”

“I think it's just a lot of the same old, same old,” she said of the federal leaders' promises. “People saying they're going to do this, they're going to do that, but at the end of the day, you know they're not going to.”

It's this attitude that has Destiny Myers considering skipping out on voting altogether.

“I've seen recently a live debate against all of them and honestly it looked like a bunch of toddlers just arguing over each other, crying about little things,” she said.

“They weren't really going into depth on important things. I've seen racism. I've seen lots of words just being outright rude, and I don't think I want any leaders like that running.”

Chief optimistic about collaboration

As for what would change her mind, Myers said she'd like to see federal politicians have a presence on Lennox Island, but is skeptical that will happen.

“Unless it's election time, then you see their faces going around and they're trying to get you to voice your concerns, when in reality, they're not going to come back,” she said.

Chief Bernard said she's more optimistic and is ready for any candidate who may be in office after the election.

“I'll be knocking on their door pretty much right away and saying 'come and talk to me and let's talk and let's set the agenda for how we move forward to work together for the people of Lennox Island and for Prince Edward Island.'”

More P.E.I. news 

About the Author

Nicole Williams is a video journalist with CBC P.E.I. She previously worked as an associate producer with CBC News in Toronto.

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