The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Assembly of First Nations Manitoba Call for Restructuring Medical Transportation System After Delayed Medical Response for First Nation Infant

Press Release

October 12th, 2022

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and the Assembly of First Nations Manitoba (AFN) issued the following statement after an infant was not given prompt transportation from Pimicikamak Cree Nation to Winnipeg for emergency care. The ill infant waited 24 hours after triage at the nursing station because Medevac rerouted two airplanes before finally clearing a third to bring the family to Winnipeg.

“The AMC has identified this need to redesign and restructure the medical transport system for remote First Nations for decades,” said AMC Deputy Grand Chief Cornell McLean. “The non-insured health benefits (NIHB) funded by Indigenous Service Canada is wrought with institutional and systemic racism against First Nations that allows for tragic incidents to occur too often. It’s been less than two weeks since the leaders in the north signed the Declaration to Eliminate All Forms of Indigenous-Specific Racism and one week since the nation came together to support the #EveryChildMatters sentiment. This news is very disheartening.”

Currently, AMC and AFN are advocating for First Nations to exercise their right to sovereignty and self-government of health care. “There have been issues with staffing and maintaining safe and accessible health care resources in First Nations communities for years,” said AFN Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse. “Indigenous Services Canada has been aware of the impending crisis that is now upon our citizens and has sat idle without providing solutions or interventions. It is through this systemic racism that our children continue to suffer, and generational victimization continues, as seen with the medical care, or lack of it, that this baby and their family have experienced. Despite implementing Jordan’s Principle, the westernized health care system fails to provide timely and proficient care to our future generations.”

“Our people are dying from things that can be prevented,” said Chief David Monias of Pimicilamak at the Declaration to Eliminate All Forms of Indigenous-Specific Racism event hosted by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) in Thompson, Manitoba on September 26, 2022. He said during his first term as Chief, there have been 55 deaths in his community – two by suicide, four by natural causes, and the rest from lack of health services. “We support Chief David Monias of Pimicikamak Cree Nation in calling for further systemic change to ensure the safety and longevity of all First Nation citizens,” Deputy Grand Chief Cornell McLean said. “The delay in delivering the urgently required medical care for this infant demonstrates a serious flaw in accessibility to basic health care for northern First Nations in Manitoba. We pray for a fast recovery for the child and send prayers to the family and the leaders in Pimicikamak Cree Nation as they navigate this recurring health care crisis.”

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