Entitlements and Health Services for First Nations and Métis Women in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

K. Bent
J. Havelock
M. Haworth-Brockman


“It almost seems like the general population doesn’t understand that there’s specific benefits for each of us and if you are First Nations you can access as long as you have that 10 digit number but First Nation women without Treaty Status, Métis women, and other women are distinctly different and if they do not have that 10 digit number they do not have access to the same kinds of services and programs.”
– Service ProviderIn the Constitution of Canada Indian, Métis and Inuit people are all recognized as Aboriginal. However, there are differences in legal status among Aboriginal Peoples that determine what health services they are entitled to receive. Sometimes it is appropriate to use the term “Aboriginal”. Many times the term “Aboriginal” and “First Nations” are used interchangeably or casually, without appropriate recognition of who is included under a label; Métis may not be included at all. Frequently it is not clear which group of people is being referred to in research and discussions. According to LaRocque, “stereotypes, politics and government policies have contributed much to the confusion.”

However convenient the term “Aboriginal” may be, Aboriginal groups have unique cultures with different languages and traditions that influence self-identify, and should not be thought of as a homogeneous group. Furthermore, this confusion of terms has particular implications in the realm of health care, because terminology, identity and legal status have direct bearing on who receives what health benefits. More often than not, when looking at health services, it is more suitable to recognize the differences between First Nations, Métis and Inuit women.

This paper was written for both health researchers and policy-makers to examine the legal entitlements for health care services, clarify the terminology, and most importantly to demonstrate how they affect the women seeking health services. This understanding can then be taken into account in new research and policy development.

In keeping with Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence’s mandate, specific to Manitoba and Saskatchewan, this paper is focused in those two provinces. The discussion in this paper focuses on First Nations and Métis people, who comprise the vast majority of Aboriginal people in the two provinces.

The report is arranged in four parts. Part 1 reviews the history behind the different entitlements to health services in Canada, and outlines current developments. Part 2 provides some information about the health services available. A qualitative research project, described in Part 3, documents the experience of front-line workers who work with Métis and First Nations women and provides their suggestions for reducing barriers to good health. Part 4 provides suggestions for policy-makers and researchers, based on the findings of the preceding sections.

To begin, we give some background about First Nations and Métis women in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

To read the full report, download in pdf format (666KB)

Report Brief

Across the Road: Understanding The Differences In Health Services Available to First Nations and Métis Women.
Download pdf (213 KB)

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