The NWT Cancer Strategy

The NWT’s first territorial cancer strategy was released in the winter of 2015. This strategy, Charting Our Course: Northwest Territories Cancer Strategy 2015-2025, will guide the health and social services system and our partners toward the achievement of five goals:

  1. Support NWT residents to lead healthy lifestyles that reduce their risk of cancer;
  2. Improve cancer screening rates among eligible NWT residents;
  3. Improve patient transitions between each stage of the cancer journey;
  4. Support health professionals to communicate within the circle of cancer care; and
  5. Improve the quality of life of cancer patients, their families and caregivers, and cancer survivors.

These goals emerged from extensive consultation with partners and stakeholders and describe our most urgent needs.  Charting Our Course will not resolve all of our challenges, but will help us to make significant progress and lay a foundation for continued improvements. The successful implementation of this strategy will lead to the best health and best care of all NWT residents in all communities, charting our course for a better future.

The Executive Summary of this strategy is also available in French 

Cancer Sharing Circles

“I know every family has been affected by cancer. If we can get together and start talking, that’s what our community really needs.”
(Cancer sharing circle participant)

Cancer sharing circles facilitate open discussion about cancer in a safe environment. The objectives of cancer sharing circles are: to give community members the opportunity to voice their concerns and share their stories about cancer; to enhance community knowledge and awareness of cancer and how it impacts community members; and to motivate community members to initiate their own activities to address barriers and gaps they face in cancer care and support.

DHSS support may be available for a cancer sharing circle in your region. If you would like to learn more, please contact us.

To see the sharing circle reports, please follow the links below.

Breaking the Silence: Report on the Inuvialuit Settlement Region Cancer Sharing Circle (January 2015) 

Believe in Our Healing Journey: Report on the Dehcho Cancer Sharing Circle (September 2013) 

It’s Never Too Late to Start: Report on the Fort Resolution Community Cancer Sharing Session (August 2012) 

Let the Tree Grow, Not Cancer: Report on the Fort Good Hope Community Cancer Sharing Session (June 2012) 

Are you interested in holding a cancer sharing circle in your community? The Department of Health and Social Services may be able to help. Please see our Community Action Toolkit for resources, including a cancer sharing circle proposal template that you may use to seek funding. 

Believe in Our Healing Journey: Supporting Continuity of Care for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Cancer Patients in the Northwest Territories (Continuity of Care Project)

The Continuity of Care Project, funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, runs from March 2014 to February 2017. 

NWT communities are a critical part of our health care system. This project will strengthen the cancer care system in the NWT and assist communities to support cancer patients. We aim to improve the patient experience at all stages in the cancer journey. This involves relationship building, developing language and tools to speak productively about cancer, and integrating greater support for patients and caregivers along the continuum of care.  By adopting a systems strengthening approach—from the bottom-up and top-down—all NWT residents will benefit from this project.

The DHSS works closely with communities, regional health and social services authorities, Aboriginal governments, the Stanton Elders’ Council, Alberta Health Services, the Northern Health Services Network, the NWT Breast Health/Breast Cancer Action Group, and other important stakeholders in the NWT.

Dialogue and Storywork in Support of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Cancer Patients throughout Oncology and Primary Care Transition Experiences (Dialogue and Storywork Project)

The Dialogue and Storywork Project, funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, runs from January 2014 to January 2017.

The DHSS leads the Dialogue and Storywork Project in collaboration with Alberta Health Services, CancerCare Manitoba, the British Columbia Cancer Agency Centre for the North, and Saint Elizabeth Health Care.  This project emphasizes trust and relationship building between Aboriginal cancer patients and communities, health care providers, and other stakeholders. We will use storywork methodology and multimedia to develop information and resources for cancer patients in the NWT and across Canada.

Addressing Community Concerns about Health Risks from Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) Infection

The DHSS receives funding from the University of Alberta to support the H. pylori Project, from September 2014 to 2018.

This project aims to develop community-driven strategies to manage H. pylori infection. Research is being led by the Canadian North H. pylori (CANHelp) Working Group, a University of Alberta academic research team. Research began in 2007 in Aklavik and has since extended to Tuktoyaktuk, Fort McPherson, and Old Crow, Yukon.

For more information on the CANHelp Working Group, please click visit their website.

Working on Wellness in Strategic Populations (WoW)

The WoW Project is a workplace wellness initiative that runs from October 2013 to September 2016. WoW is funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and Health Canada through the Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention (CLASP) initiative.

WoW aims to increase awareness, education, and access to appropriate workplace health promotion resources. The project develops and supports comprehensive workplace wellness programs to provide employees with opportunities to engage in wellness activities, and increase employer capacity to implement wellness programs. The project is currently being implemented in five pilot sites: De Beers Group of Companies; Dominion Diamond Ekati Corporation; Diavik Diamond Mines, Inc.; Worker’s Safety and Compensation Commission; and DHSS.

Project partners include the BC Health Living Alliance; Canadian Cancer Society, BC & Yukon; Council of Yukon First Nations; and Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada.

For more information on  Working on Wellness, please visit

What do these initiatives mean for NWT communities?

  • Active collaboration with the DHSS
  • Enhanced visibility of local cancer champions
  • Dispelled myths and reduced stigma with regard to cancer
  • Other forms of healing (traditional medicine) are valued
  • Enhanced understanding of the needs/perspectives of all cancer patients
  • Support for community-based initiatives to improve the continuity of cancer care
  • Opportunity to provide feedback and guidance on current challenges and potential solutions for cancer care in the NWT
  • Increased education, awareness, and promotion of cancer screening and cancer prevention
  • Greater availability of culturally appropriate written and visual information

Our key partners

  • Regional health and social services authorities and Stanton Territorial Health Authority
  • Aboriginal governments, band and Métis councils, community corporations, and municipal governments
  • Stanton Elders’ Council
  • Alberta Health Services, including CancerControl Alberta and Northern Health Services Network
  • Canadian Partnership Against Cancer
  • Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Chapter
  • NWT Breast Health/Breast Cancer Action Group
  • Other GNWT departments within the Healthy Choices Framework