Siksika Health Services hosts 22nd annual Health Fair

Siksika Health Services hosted their 22nd annual Health Fair at the Piiksapi Memorial Arbour, April 17, celebrating healthcare, mental health, wellness, and athletics.

This year’s event featured UFC hall of famer, Georges St. Pierre, as well as Humboldt Broncos crash survivor, Ryan Straschnitzki.

“It has been an amazing run for us at Siksika Health Services. It is our premier event that we share with the community and it is really our staff that are the driving force,” said Tyler White, Siksika Health Services CEO. “As a CEO, I get a lot of the accolades, but I give everything back to our staff … it is really about bringing a positive health and wellness message to the community, it is about offering hope and empowerment to our youth … and also being respectful to our elders and those with other needs.”

St. Pierre was recognized for his advocacy of health and wellness by overcoming bullying as a young person. Straschnitzki was invited to share his story of overcoming hardships and pursuing dreams in the face of challenges.

This year’s theme of the Health Fair was improving and empowering youth mental health.

St. Pierre, prior to making his way to Siksika to attend the health fair, also stopped to visit the Enoch Cree Nation.

“I grew up near Kahnawake First Nation, so I am aware of some of the problems that might happen in the community. It is often a recurring thing and I am here trying to improve the situation,” he said. “There are places that are worse than others, but when I talked to the Chief … to see what kind of a message they want … growing up from a humble beginning, I understand and I believe a lot of them and they can identify with me because of the history, the life that I had and they can see a spark of hope.”

White added, having been CEO of Siksika Health Services for 25 years, seeing events such as the annual health fair come together has become an emotional experience.

He explained seeing the reactions and the joy of the public in attendance of the event reinforces the need to continue hosting the health fair and similar events.

“I think these events and speakers and activities like this save lives. When you talk about saving lives, that puts another connotation on what we are doing here,” he said. “You can have a nice event and bring in people, but when you are actually doing things to save lives, that puts on a whole different perspective.”

St. Pierre and Straschnitzki were honoured by Siksika for coming to their event with a series of gifts presented before the public audience. Opportunities to meet them were held following their presentations.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times