photo: contributed Arielle Findlater with lobby partner Sage Stobbe and Dan Albas MP Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

West Kelowna girl takes aim at Type 1 diabetes

Arielle Findlater took a trip to Parliament to lobby for Type 1 diabetes

Arielle Findlater wants a cure for Type 1 diabetes and she even went to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to lobby MPs for support to meet that aim.

The 12-year-old West Kelowna girl was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes Sept. 26 2013, when she was seven. Five years later, she has become used to the routine finger pricks she does daily to test her blood sugar. The only thing diabetes holds the young musician and advocate back from is playing the guitar. Her fingers are too sensitive to hold the strings but she still loves to play the ukulele she won from a contest at Big White Ski Resort.

The granddaughter of former West Kelowna Mayor and now Coun. Doug Findlater is no shrinking violet.

“Arielle is a very confident 12-year-old and could handle a press conference if need be, there is no shyness there,” said her father, Dave Findlater.

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Arielle and her family are hopeful that during her lifetime she will be able to speak of her diabetes in past tense.

The young advocate was one of 28 young people picked from across Canada to take part in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Kids for a Cure Lobby Day at the end of October. They had more than 90 meetings with over 100 members of Parliament and ministers of health and national revenue.

There were also a dozen senators in attendance.

They were asking for support for the foundation’s recommendations that included amending the Income Tax Act, making it an eligible activity for a disability tax credit, a national registry for Type 1 diabetes patients, new funding for research and to find a cure, prevention and treatment.

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There is no history of diabetes in her family. Findlater has become a local celebrity in West Kelowna, from singing the national anthem at hockey games, her grandfather and walking the JDRF walk each year.

When Arielle found out she was going to speak at Parliament she says she couldn’t control her excitement.

“We got the phone call and I knocked the air out of my dad hugging him,” she said.

The father-daughter duo applied on the last day of the application window and were unsure if they would have the opportunity to participate.

Arielle says she was ready to pack right away, even though the trip was a few months away.

“I was super excited and I don’t usually get nervous because I do a lot of public speaking and stuff and I am really talkative and I am not afraid to talk and meet new people,” said Arielle.

She said she has several friends that have diabetes and hopes that they can all be cured from the disease in the future.

JRDF explains that Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin that allows people to get energy from food. Its triggers are not entirely known. More than 30,000 Canadians live with Type 1 diabetes and the rate amongst children under the age of 14 is estimated to increase by three per cent world wide. The life expectancy of people with Type 1 diabetes can be shortened as much as 15 years.

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Arielle Findlater with lobby partner Sage Stobbe and leader of the Green Party Elizabeth May photo: contributed

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