Sudbury·Audio

NOSM med students start sustainable menstrual-care products campaign for Fort Severn

Two students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine are tackling a health and reproductive issue that is particularly challenging for people in rural and remote communities.

Lucie Menard and Ashley Perreault want to tackle a problem in Fort Severn First Nation

Northern Ontario School of Medicine students are asking for people's help to buy sustainable menstrual products for the fly-in community of Fort Severn First Nation in northwestern Ontario. They have partnered with Sudbury's Lady Crimson Cloth Emporium to provide reusable menstrual pads to the community. (Lady Crimson Cloth Emporium)

Two students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine are tackling a health and reproductive issue that is particularly challenging for people in rural and remote communities

Lucie Menard and Ashley Perreault, local officers of reproductive and sexual health at NOSM, believe menstrual products should be free, but they're often scarce or too expensive in fly-in communities. 

Menard and Perreault decided they wanted to give back to Fort Severn First Nation, a northern Ontario community of approximately 400, so they began consulting with community members. 

"Through our discussions we came to realize that natural products can be four or five times the price that we would get them in Sudbury or Thunder Bay," Perreault said.

"So we thought this was a community that really had a need for sustainability and could benefit from the menstrual product drive that we were hoping to initiate now."

Ashley Perreault, is a medical student and local officer of reproductive and sexual health at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. (Ryan Wallace)

Perreault said the response from community members was "ecstatic.

"But we did realize, through our own research, that there are so many different types of menstrual products," she said. "There is the single use, there are tons of reusable ones. But, unfortunately, reusable products are much more expensive."

Other options, like the Diva Cup and reusable underwear, were also mentioned. In the end, the community decided that reusable pads would be the best option.

"A lot of the cups require sterilization, and water, but they had boil water advisory on for a very long time," she said. "So we just wanted wanted to be mindful of that. However, with pads, as most women will know, or others individuals who menstruate, there are different types of pads, you know, panty liners, thin pads, thick pads, you name it."

They broke down the costs to about $35 for a regular flow set, and $40 for a heavy flow kit, which includes five reusable pads for one individual. 

The kits are supplied by Sudbury-based Lady Crimson Cloth Emporium. 

Lucie Menard is a medical student and local officer of reproductive and sexual Health at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. (Trish Huard)

Menard said the two started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money for the kits, which she said will help deliver a basic human right to the remote community.

"We don't choose to menstruate. It's something that we have to go through as women or anyone with a uterus knows," Menard said. 

"And it's really unfortunate when we learn the realities of how expensive these products are and how sometimes people have to decide on basic essential products...versus other things. We're really hopeful that this will have a positive impact on their lives."

 

With files from Jessica Pope

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