FREDERICTON (GNB) – A series of paintings depicting First Nations experiences with cancer treatment will be on display in Saint John and Moncton.

This project is part of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer's initiative entitled A New Path-Improving the Journey for New Brunswick's First Nations Patients Along the Cancer Care Continuum/Ajiglu'g Nutawti'nen/Pilawtihkasik: A New Path. The goal is to advance improvements in the continuity of care in a culturally responsive way for First Nations.

"The goal of this project was to capture the journey of First Nations cancer survivors from diagnosis to remission in a culturally relevant manner through visual art and storytelling," said Premier David Alward. "Prints of these paintings will be displayed in the province's two major cancer centres in an effort to ease the burden of the cancer journey for First Nations people by making these spaces more culturally welcoming."

The original paintings will be on display this spring at the Saint John Regional Hospital and the Dr. Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton.

The six paintings were created by Natalie Sappier, an artist from Tobique First Nation. The pieces are based on interviews conducted with First Nation cancer survivors and their families as well as the overall vision shared by First Nation communities and health care partners.

The project was launched today at Government House in Fredericton, with the assistance of Lt.-Gov. Graydon Nicholas, who is also from the Tobique First Nation.

"I am deeply touched by these works, and the spirits they will call into play for all cancer patients on their own deeply personal journeys," said Nicholas.

This initiative is a partnership between First Nations communities, the Department of Health, Horizon Health Network, Vitalité Health Network, the New Brunswick Cancer Network and the Extra-Mural Program. The initiative focuses on four strategic areas:

●    community-based health human resource skills, capacity and community awareness;
●    culturally responsive resources and services;
●    access to programs and services in remote and rural communities; and
●    patient identification systems.

"These paintings serve as a visual recording of the collaboration that has taken place among government, the regional health authorities and First Nation communities as we work to make the health-care system more culturally sensitive," said Health Minister Hugh Flemming.