11-year-old Humboldt resident goes to Ottawa to lobby for diabetes funding

An 11-year-old Humboldt resident was one of 28 people selected by the JDRF to go to Ottawa to lobby parliamentarians about Type 1 diabetes funding.

Duke Brochu was chosen to go to Ottawa Oct. 28 to 30 after submitting a video outlining his personal story and his effort to raise money for research into the condition. His mother Amanda Brochu encouraged him to send the video.

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He said he was really happy when he found out he would be going on the trip.

“I was jumping because I was happy and I thought it would really cool to go,” he said.

When Duke arrived in Ottawa, he met the other children involved in the lobbying effort.

“It was really fun how I got to meet with other diabetic kids because we could talk about it because when I’m talking with my normal friends, they really don’t understand it as much,” he said. “It was fun talking to them because they had to do everything I have to do on a day to day basis.”

He was paired up with Beth Miller from Calgary.

“The next day, I went to meet with MPs and that was fun because they really cared and they wanted to talk to you about it and they wanted to do stuff about it too.”

Duke met with Saskatoon NDP MP Sheri Benson, Alberta Conservative MP Michael Cooper, Saskatoon Conservative MP Brad Trost and Moose Jaw Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski.

“I told them my story, I told them what I was there for, which was to make the insulin supplies and the diabetic supplies free because it’s medical.”

The costs of diabetic supplies for families can vary from province to province. It can also depend on the types of insurance plan the family has. The JRDF says on their website the supplies are costly and can mean in some cases that people have to choose between medication and essentials like food and shelter.

“We went there and told them that and we told them what they could do,” Duke said. “They can write to the minister of finance or they can join the All-Party Juvenile Diabetes Caucus.”

The delegates also got to see question period, where Vancouver Liberal MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, the chair of the All-Party Juvenile Diabetes Caucus, stood up and announced them. All of the MPs clapped and waved.

The lobbying day happens every two years. As a result of the last one, Ottawa committed to match every dollar the JDRF raised up to $15 million, allowing for a total of $30 million to go towards research.

Duke was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last September. It’s changed how he lives. He now takes at least five insulin injections a day.

“We have to test our blood all of the time, figure out what we’re doing so we miss out on recess at school or hanging out with our friends or missing some hockey practice or baseball practice because we’re fixing our sugars.”

He has to keep an eye on how many carbs he eats so that he can measure out how much insulin he’ll have to take.

“I think a big misconception with Type 1 diabetes is that for Duke he’ll go to a friend’s house or he’ll go to a birthday party and people will think that he can’t eat cake or he can’t have a cupcake,” said Amanda. “He can still eat whatever he wants to east, he just needs to take the proper amount of insulin to offset that.”

Back in Humboldt, Duke is organizing a second annual skate-a-thon to raise money for the JDRF. All donations made to Duke up to Nov. 30 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $20,000. There will be a raffle table and some Humboldt Broncos will attended.

“I hope to see everybody out at the skate-a-thon this year,” Duke said.

The event is on Nov. 12 at the  Elgar Petersen Arena from 2 to 3:30 pm.

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