When Mystery Furtado, Founder of Type Diabeat-it, came to Canada, she hoped to find solutions in Canada’s medical and healthcare system to potentially solve the long battle of diabetes back in her home country. She soon realized that she was going to be in this for the long haul. “In my mind, when I came here, I thought, Canada doesn’t need me because they don’t have any challenges, but when I started working, I realized that’s not the case,” says Furtado. Inspired by her personal experience of losing her grandparents to diabetes back in Belize, Mystery Furtado is now on a mission to empower Canadian BPOC folks, who are more susceptible to diabetes, take control of their health through Type Diabeat-it.  

A not-for-profit organization, Type Diabeat-it empowers, educates, and supports healthy eating for the Black and People of Color communities to help prevent diabetes and build their path to a healthy lifestyle. Since starting in 2018, the organization has grown significantly, expanding their initiatives, programs, and community collaborations. Delivering 750 hot meals in the summer months to low-income and underserved groups, the organization emphasizes food literacy through elaborate curriculum delivered in schools and food website portion control classes. In addition to this, Furtado has been very keen on growing fresh produce to help families eat meals with high nutritional value and has been actively growing Afrocentric plants and vegetables in a greenhouse located in Western Fair District. Producing and distributing over 310 lbs of fresh produce, Furtado’s recipes are not just nutritious, but also inexpensive. “All our recipes in our food literacy program are under $20 and entirely plant-based, so we’re encouraging people and families to eat more vegetables, while maintaining their culture and helping them manage diabetes,” shares Furtado.  
Living in Canada since 2010, Furtado first recognized the need for an organization such as Type Diabeat-it when she saw the lack of cultural competencies in the healthcare system. From suggestions of dietary changes that might not meet the cultural food habits of these underrepresented communities, to long wait times for appointments, and lack of representation of BPOC individuals in the healthcare system, she soon realized that an intermediary such as her organization might be THE bridge to create an efficient healthcare system that benefits all.  

Highlighting these barriers in the healthcare system is not to point to fingers, it is to address them. I see myself and this organization as something that is holding onto you and encouraging you while you wait and get that professional help.

Mystery Furtado, Founder of Type Diabeat-it

With bigger plans, broader vision, and a passionate mission, comes more funding requirements, resources, and support from the community. This is where Furtado, like many other women-identifying, Black founders, often struggle, “There are often assumptions made about the way my organization has been established – there are doubts about the processes, about the structure and I’ve often come across surprised reactions on my organization being registered and legally operated.” According to a report called ‘The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2023 by Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, Black women-owned businesses often had difficulty with financing and borrowing costs due to race-based discrimination. The fight for equality, both racial and gender, has a long way to go. However, this does not stop women such as Mystery Furtado in achieving their dreams.  

Understanding the importance of technology, Furtado released an app, Type Diabeat-it, to help people get information and education on the health and nutritional values of Afrocentric plants, right at the click of a button. Available on Google Play store and Apple Store, the app was designed in partnership with Brescia College students who have helped build the toolkit that provides information not only on the nutritional value of these Afrocentric plants, but also depicts how they can be grown right in your backyard! “For now, the app has 20 such Afrocentric plants, but our plan is to add recipes that can be made using these plants and vegetables, and eventually also collect data to generate a database of eating habits among BPOC people,” shares Furtado. Recognizing a gap in reporting on the health status of BPOC communities, Furtado believes that collecting this information through surveys will help their mission and provide Canada with much-needed information that is currently missing.  

Shifting to a 1.5 acres land, generously leased by Cardinal Fine Cabinetry and funded by United Way, to continue growing fresh produce along with a new relationship built with the Thames Valley Board District to deliver their Afro-Heritage Food Literacy Program to various local schools here in London, Furtado is on her way to growth for 2024. “We are so excited for our growth in general. Our app has so much potential, our literacy program will be delivered to so many more individuals, and we are also going to have 5 more staff members that will be added to the team,” shares Furtado. Hoping to continue her collaboration with community members such as LUSO, Pillar Non-Profit, London Food Bank, London Intercommunity Health Center, University of Western University and others, Furtado has bigger plans for the organization with more funding and investment currently in the works.  
To learn more about Type Diabeat-it, visit their website here.