Southern First Nations Continue to Lead on Transforming Health for Anishinaabe and Dakota Citizens

Press Release

June 4, 2024

“I look forward to continuing to support our Nations as they strive to support and improve the health and well-being of SCO citizens across what is now southern Manitoba.”–Grand Chief Daniels

ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) hosted a Chiefs-in-Summit today in Treaty One Territory. Key resolutions that will positively impact the well-being of SCO citizens were passed by Chiefs and proxies in attendance at the event.

“As First Nations continue to grapple with an 11-year-gap in life expectancy in comparison to non-First Nations people in Manitoba, it is imperative that the Southern Chiefs’ Organization continue to work diligently to transform health for our SCO member Nations. People’s lives are depending on us to get this right,” shared Grand Chief Jerry Daniels.

The first resolution for discussion was brought to the Summit by Chief Cornell McLean of the Lake Manitoba First Nation. The resolution called for the SCO’s Chiefs Executive Committee and Grand Chief to remind Indigenous Services Canada of their obligation under the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and advise Canada that they need to uphold their obligations under the MOU and provide SCO Health Transformation the allocated portion of the $25 million Indigenous Health Equity Fund in the amount of $13.7 million.

It also called for the SCO’s Chiefs Executive Committee and Grand Chief to advise the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs that under the Political Unity Accord on First Nations Health, that SCO Health Transformation has the authority to negotiate on behalf of SCO member Nations and is the primary decision-making body for the Indigenous Health Equity Fund (IHEF) as it pertains to the 34 southern First Nations it represents. The resolution also states that any discussion on jurisdictional funding allocations for the IHEF not impede or derogate from the sacred agreements and sovereignty of SCO member Nations as negotiated in Treaty.

“It is essential that SCO continue to work towards transforming health,” stated Chief McLean, in regard to the first resolution passed by the Chiefs. “Much work in this area has already been completed and SCO is well on the way to establishing a Southern First Nations Health Authority.”

The second resolution focused on honouring the sacred laws of Anishinaabe and Dakota Nations. The resolution was brought forward by Chief McLean. It directs the SCO’s Chiefs Executive Committee and Grand Chief to meet with the Chief Medical Examiner and the Minister Responsible of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to share the Summit’s concerns about the extended period of time for the return of deceased family members. The resolution also directs that the Sacred Laws of Anishinaabe and Dakota Nations be acknowledged and respected so that ancestral ceremonies and burial practices can be followed. The resolution asserts that ceremonies be able to take place in a timely manner.

“Thank you to all the leaders who joined us at our Chiefs-in-Summit as we received updates and had important discussions on topics related to the health and wellness of SCO member Nations,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “The leaders of our Nations continue to work diligently on protecting, preserving, promoting, and enhancing the inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions of First Nations peoples’ through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process. I look forward to continuing to support our Nations as they strive to support and improve the health and well-being of SCO citizens across what is now southern Manitoba.”

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The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 87,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

For media inquiries:

Email: media@scoinc.mb.ca

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