Aboriginal Pharmacists Association of Canada (APAC)
NEDA DEBASSIGE TOEG, BSP, R.Ph.
Member of the Founding Board of Directors
Neda Debassige Toeg is a Treaty Status Ojibwa from M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island Ontario. She has is known to many as national role model for Indigenous youth aspiring towards a future in the medical fields especially Pharmacy.
In April 2003 she received a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, from the University of Saskatchewan. Earlier, in April 1999, Neda graduated with ‘distinction’ with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, with a strong focus in medical sociology; where she developed a firm belief that understanding the problem in order to heal it, is the most effective approach to health and wellness today. Neda has applied this background to many Government and University research projects, proposals and papers conducted over the past several years.
Notable amongst these was the design and development of a new and unique pharmacy course for the University of Saskatchewan, Health Care Practitioners and the Aboriginal Community – Building Partnerships towards Holistic. This course addresses the importance of cultural sensitivity within the health care field.
Keeping abreast of the latest information on various health issues is critical in providing up-to date information on research projects and policy positions. In 2002 Neda was a student in the health sciences when she received the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Center (IPHRC) Summer Undergraduate Research Award at the University of Saskatchewan. The majority of her research was focused on compiling a complete report on FASD preventative treatments with a strong emphasis on antioxidant micronutrients and endogenous peptides. As a medical sociologist she was able to expand the scope of this project to include training of medical professionals, teachers and social workers who would mobilize community action and enhance the quality of life for affected individuals and their families.
Another of her initiatives that stresses policy development and program design, is The NWT Dene & Inuit Diabetes (NTDID) Project, she created for the Government of the Northwest Territories. The NTDID is an Aboriginal diabetes wellness program designed for: community leaders, health outreach workers, and lay educators who have been trained in diabetes prevention and awareness by health care professional experts to deliver services at the grass roots level.
Aboriginal Pharmacists Association of Canada (APAC)
While working with the Secretary of State for Children and Youth, Neda assisted in the delivery of programs and initiatives that sought to meet the needs of Aboriginal youth in Canada. The experience of working in a Federal Minister’s office in Yellowknife and Ottawa for several summers provided her with the skill sets and knowledge necessary to be effective in any position with a national political organization.
Aboriginal Pharmacists Association of Canada (APAC) Complementing these skills are her organizational, fundraising and leadership abilities that allowed Neda to successfully coordinate the largest event in the history if the Northwest Territories; the Assembly of First Nations 2005 Annual General Assembly held in Yellowknife.
The Aboriginal Pharmacists Association of Canada (APAC) is the premier association of its’ kind in the world and has already gained recognition and support from a variety of Professional associations involved in pharmaceutical care, pharma health and policy in both the United States and Australia. She has been interviewed several times on APTN (Aboriginals Peoples Television Network) and CBC News and CBC Radio for her work as the president and founder of APAC.
While with APAC she conducted a research study on Proton-Pump Inhibitors (PPI’s) which is a class of medication used to decrease the amount of stomach acid and how the force-switch policy of Non- Insurance Health Benefits (NIHB) of Health Canada has adversely affected the health status of Aboriginal people in the NWT.
From a pharmacist perspective the forced removal of effective treatment on stabilized patients for purely monetary reasons are not only unjust but also totally unethical. The fact our Government would force this policy on a population whose current health status is a direct result of a well-documented history marked with the same injustices, is simple unforgivable.
This research study went on to be published nationally and internationally. As a result, the NIHB program has stopped its’ forced switch policy on PPIs and has concluded not to enforce such policies on other classes of medication, such as Diabetes and Cardiovascular medications, as a cost saving tactic.
Neda Debassige Toeg was the first Aboriginal pharmacist ‘North of 60’ and was the first Indigenous pharmacist to be licensed to practice the in the Norwest Territories and Nunavut. She has made a lifelong commitment to the empowerment and improvement of all people; however, her ultimate goal has always been to play a key role in the health and wellness of Canada’s Indigenous people.
Recently relocating to her community in northern Ontario, M’Chigeeng First Nations on Manitoulin Island, Neda working to establish Sweetgrass Pharmacy & Compounding (SG Rx) the premier Indigenously owned and operated pharmacy on a reservation in Canadian History.