HBMI Health Fair draws large gathering to tribal community

1 month ago

HOULTON, Maine – Bringing the latest trends and updates in the health field to tribal citizens is one of the main missions of the Houlton Band of Maliseet’s Health and Wellness Center.

And if this year’s health fair is any indication, the message of healthy lifestyles is reaching far and wide.

Allison Gooding, right, of ACAP speaks with Margaret Sabattis Saturday, June 8, at the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Health and Wellness Fair. More than 200 people attended the event. (Courtesy of HBMI)

“This was one of the best attended health fairs we have had,” Maliseet Health and Wellness Center Director Michelle Barrows said. “There were 210 participants who registered.  I believe there were more than that, but some folks snuck by without registering and others failed to sign their children in.”

The Maliseet Health and Wellness Center hosts a health fair each year to raise awareness about healthy lifestyles and just how important it is to receive certain screenings, maintaining a good diet and exercise and how prevention is key to healthy longevity.

“Each year, the Maliseet Health and Wellness Center hosts a community health fair with a theme, and this year’s theme was Cultural Health Connections,” explained Krystal Caron, community health representative/safety officer. “We chose this theme because there are so many things that affect our health such as our cultural beliefs and diversity, sobriety, mental health, genetics, and in general our way of life. With this theme, we could showcase many things that affect our health.” 

The fair featured a sacred fire, health screenings, fitness program activities, and included booths for domestic violence, education, Indian Child Welfare, Maine Breast and Cervical Health, Aroostook County Action Program, Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness, Maliseet Behavioral Health and Wellness and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Krystal Caron, community health representative/safety officer for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians’ Health Center, goes over a brochure with an attendee at the annual Health and Wellness Fair Saturday, June 8. (Courtesy of HBMI)

“We focus on all sorts of health related topics such as healthy blood pressure, nutrition, mental health and substance use prevention, fitness, dv and sexual assault awareness and many other important topics,” Barrows explained. “We also invite other agencies to participate along with our Tribal programs.”

This year’s attendance was so successful that some vendors ran out of materials early. 

“We were pretty happy with the turnout and as always if it changed one person’s perspective or veered them in a better route then we have exceeded our goal,” Caron said. “These health fairs have so much to offer everyone. There’s a lot to learn about your health and about preventing health complications, knowing what new resources or trends are available.”