New strategy aims to improve Aboriginal health

Saskatoon – Hundreds gathered today as a new Aboriginal Health Strategy was presented to the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority by Strengthening the Circle – a partnership between Kinistin Saulteaux Nation, the Central Urban Métis Federation Inc. (CUMFI) and the Saskatoon Health Region.

The partnership officially began with a pipe ceremony back in April 2008 and has been building relationships with the Aboriginal community and seeking feedback about health services provided by the Saskatoon Health Region.First Nations and Métis Elders shared their wisdom and guidance throughout this process, including the “Gathering Wisdom Elders” forum held on November 28 and 29, 2009. Over a six-month period, January – July 2009, Strengthening the Circle conducted 34 community focus groups and received feedback from a total of 671 Aboriginal people.

Each participant was asked how Saskatoon Health Region can better meet Aboriginal health needs. This Strategy is the result: it is a guide for creating a unique “patient-first” experience for Aboriginal people.

“Each hospital in Saskatchewan should have Aboriginal healers working together with doctors and nurses,” shared a focus group participant.

“This strategy was built with the understanding of all partners and fosters a true collaboration in addressing issues that face First Nations. It incorporates a cultural presence that enables a comfort zone within the Western concept,” said Chief Peter Nippi, Kinistin Saulteaux Nation. “As a Chief, I want to work toward common goals that foster honesty and wellness at the same trust level, to ensure First Nations’ perspectives are incorporated and implemented within the Saskatoon Health Region.”

“CUMFI is proud and excited to be a partner in the delivery of the Aboriginal Health Strategy.

The Strategic Plan and the Aboriginal Health Council leadership represent the commitment to working with the Saskatoon Health Region, in a creative and collaborative manner, to best deliver services to and with Aboriginal peoples. Our goal is to truly Strengthen the Circle,” said Shirley Isbister, President, CUMFI.

“I am proud to have been a part of this journey over the last two years. I am also excited that the good work our Health Region has been striving to accomplish can now be strengthened and enriched by the contributions of First Nations and Métis people. We look forward to continuing on this journey together now and into the future,” said Shan Landry, VP Community Services, Saskatoon Health Region.

“On behalf of the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority, thank you to Strengthening the Circle and everyone who helped develop the Aboriginal Health Strategy,” said Jim Rhode, Chair, Saskatoon Regional Health Authority. “The board is excited to review the report as we continue working collaboratively to improve the health of Aboriginal people.”

Strengthening the Circle was officially completed in March 2010, but the partnership lives on. First Nations and Métis communities and leadership have accepted the preliminary directions within the Strategy and strongly recommend proceeding with plans to develop an Aboriginal Health Council. The role of the Council is to work collaboratively with Saskatoon Regional Health Authority, Aboriginal communities and other health stakeholders to incorporate the Strategy’s recommendations.

Other recommendations include:

• Recruiting and retaining more Aboriginal employees at all levels throughout the Region, including positions that ensure Aboriginal spiritual and cultural needs are respected;
• Increasing Aboriginal representation on all boards and committees throughout the Region, including the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority;
• Developing an anti-racism strategy; and
• Exploring ways to align traditional healing methods within the current health-care system, etc.
For hard copies of the Aboriginal Health Strategy, contact:

CUMFI – (306) 975-9999
Kinistin Saulteaux Nation – (306) 878-8188 or
Saskatoon Health Region Public Health Services – (306) 655-4600

Electronic copies are available on the Saskatoon Health Region website.


For more information:

Linda Walker
Communications Adviser
Media Relations
Saskatoon Health Region

Aboriginal Health Strategy Document
The Aboriginal Health Strategy is available electronically:

Full Version (PDF – 4.1 MB)

Summary Version (PDF – 1.4 MB)

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