Media Release Agreement with Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada (VLRC) and the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle (IDHC)

September 26, 2023

[Thorold, September 29, 2023] – Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada (VLRC) and the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle (IDHC) are honoured to announce the signing of a strategic Relationship Agreement. This Agreement renews an existing partnership—ensuring continued, collaborative efforts to support Indigenous diabetes wellness, specifically in the area of eye health.

A meeting of key collaborators, and the relationship signing, is planned for Friday, September 29, 2023 at the Indigenous Legacy Gathering in Toronto. The Legacy Gathering, and the signing of the Relationship Agreement, are understood as celebrations—celebrations of unity.

VLRC and the IDHC have partnered to deliver an innovative program increasing access to diabetic retinopathy screenings within Indigenous communities. Local community partners have guided the development and delivery of this Eye Health Screening Initiative (EHSI).

The EHSI facilitates training for frontline health workers comprised of nurses, long-term/primary care workers, community health representatives and volunteers to deliver diabetic retinopathy screening within Indigenous communities. The EHSI features the use of portable fundus cameras and Health Canada approved artificial intelligence (AI) software which increases access to diabetic retinopathy Screening for many rural, remote and urban Indigenous Peoples and communities with results available in approximately 10 minutes. Early detection can reduce the risk of vision loss by 95 per cent.

VLRC and the IDHC have provided direct training to over 40 Indigenous frontline workers. Ninety-five per cent of participants said that they would like to access screening in their community again and would recommend the EHSI to others in their communities. Program outcomes demonstrated high impact with approximately 50 per cent of individuals screened had not seen an eye care professional in over five years if ever.

VLRC and the IDHC are working to enhance ongoing delivery and expansion of the EHSI in continued partnership with Indigenous communities across Ontario!

A Relationship Agreement Placing Indigenous Eye Health at the Forefront
VLRC and the IDHCH have combined in the spirit of Indigenous wellness and capacity building. The two organizations have formed a Relationship Agreement as a part of next step towards optimized eye health. This Relationship Agreement recognizes the importance of cultural safety and culture-as-healing and embraces a wholistic approach to health care—embracing not only the physical—but also the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of wellness embodied within Indigenous ways of knowing and being. This Relationship Agreement is a key part of the continuing journey of Indigenous diabetes wellness.

The Vision Ahead
VLRC and the IDHC and have united with a commitment to increase access to Indigenous community-based eye screening. This relationship is rooted in culturally safe, mutually beneficial practices.

Some of the Principles of the Relationship Agreement:
• Common Vision
• Cultural Safety
• Capacity Building
• Transformation
• Knowledge Sharing
• Collective Voice

Both VLRC and the IDHC will work together to improve Indigenous health outcomes, remove barriers for clients on their respective health journeys, seek solutions to significant systemic issues and continuously evaluate the work ahead for the purpose of ongoing, positive transformation.

All are welcome to explore and celebrate the continuing journey of Indigenous diabetes wellness at the IDHC annual conference set for Thursday, October 26, 2023. The conference features diabetes wellness testimonials, traditional teachings and trauma-informed healing information, an Indigenous canoe teaching and much more! Registration information is located at

About Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada (VLRC):
Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada is a not-for-profit national health care organization and the leading provider of rehabilitation therapy and health care services for individuals with vision loss. VLRC enables people who are blind or partially sighted to develop or restore key daily living skills, helping enhance their independence, safety and mobility.

About the Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle (IDHC):
The IDHC has more than 25 years of experience in Indigenous diabetes health promotion and capacity building, including client services, knowledge dissemination and training. The IDHC delivers culturally based programs focusing on diabetes education, prevention and management in Indigenous communities across Ontario – serving First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities. Facilitating community capacity, building upon traditional strengths and supporting community-driven programs that honour traditional strengths and support community-driven programs remain IDHC’s core focus.

For more information, please contact:
Caitlin Lazarus
Operations & Eye Health Screening Initiative

Roslynn Baird
Executive Director
Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle