Scaling up: Diabetes Alliance unveils new website ahead of second Indigenous Quality Improvement Workshop

Nearly 30 years has passed since Dr. Stewart Harris first arrived in Northern Ontario to begin his research on the mounting diabetes epidemic affecting First Nations peoples.

Today, his work is carried forward by the Diabetes Alliance, a multidisciplinary research team located at the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine. Previously known as The National Diabetes Management Strategy (TNDMS), the team rebranded in summer 2018 with the launch of its new website. The timely rebrand reflects the transition towards a unified and collaborative approach to diabetes research, focusing on Indigenous health, Hypoglycemia and Clinical Trials. You can view the new website at

Underlining the team’s Indigenous Program is the award-winning Quality Improvement strategy that empowers community-centered teams to identify barriers to diabetes care and conduct tests of change that can lead to improvements at the grassroots level. By creating space to centre Indigenous knowledge and resources, this approach demonstrates significant potential for sustainable solutions that are owned and implemented by communities.

On September 12-13th, the team held its second of three Indigenous Quality Improvement Workshops in the 18-month intervention of SOAR – Pathway to Wellness. The jointly implemented Workshop brought together four Indigenous communities, local healthcare partners, Co-Investigators and expert presenters from four provinces. Among the participants were: Abegweit First Nation (PEI), Oneida Nation of the Thames (Ontario), Serpent River First Nation (Ontario), and Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation (Newfoundland). Organizational healthcare partners also in attendance included: Southwestern Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC), First Nations & Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB), and N'Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre (NAHAC).

The two-day virtual workshop was held over videoconference and focused on exchanging best practices and strategies for improving diabetes prevention and management, as well as the use of quality improvement tools. Individual breakout sessions were facilitated by members of the Diabetes Alliance to provide opportunities for teams to prioritize and develop new initiatives using Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles that will improve diabetes care in their communities.

The Workshop also provided an opportunity to launch a new online networking forum, known as Connect4QI. This forum creates a virtual space for community partners to share ideas, experiences and strategies that will strengthen knowledge exchange, collaboration and mentorship. While most communities involved in SOAR are hundreds of kilometres apart, the ability to collaborate through the online forum will bring them closer together as they move forward through the program and on their journey towards wellness. 

To learn more about the Diabetes Alliance, please visit or contact Mariam Hayward.