For immediate release
August 8, 2022 

Treaty Five Territory, Thompson, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) met with Manitoba Minister of Health, the Honourable Audrey Gordon, on Thursday, August 4, 2022. Representatives from Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM), the entity that supports health transformation for Northern Manitoba, also attended the meeting.


MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee states:

“I am thankful for the opportunity to meet with Minister Gordon last week along with Dr. Barry Lavallee, Chief Executive Officer of Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin. I am deeply concerned for the health services available in the North. As Grand Chief of 26 Northern First Nations, I cannot accept the status quo.

The current CEO of the Northern Regional Health Authority (NRHA), Helga Bryant, is expected to retire in March 2023. I believe an Indigenous person should be in the CEO position. MKO has requested to be included in the recruitment process as we want to ensure that every option is explored to ensure that the next CEO is Indigenous. This is important as 73 per cent of the NRHA jurisdiction is First Nation. We need to ensure the NRHA is responsive to the demographic they serve.

Dr. Lavallee, Minister Gordon, and Grand Chief Settee

From left to right: Dr. Lavallee, Minister Gordon, and Grand Chief Settee

Our office has been anticipating the opportunity to participate in the Clinical Preventative Service Plan, which will oversee investments in health services in the North. The plan is a tool to improve health services in the North. We need to ensure that there is fairness in the distribution of investments, from our smallest community health centers to the Thompson General Hospital.

MKO and KIM have been working diligently on addressing Indigenous-specific racism in health care. At our meeting with Minister Gordon, we presented our preliminary work to date. Our work requires a tri-lateral approach to address Indigenous-specific racism to decrease morbidity and death due to systemic racism. We are anticipating a joint announcement within a few weeks.

We also discussed harm reduction services in the North as Dr. Lavallee and his team at KIM have been working to introduce and support harm reduction services. The actions and services KIM have provided has undoubtedly saved the lives of many First Nations people. There is much work that still needs to be done, and our office is committed to supporting ongoing efforts in harm reduction.

MKO and KIM have demonstrated that we have the capacity, skill, and expertise to co-plan and co-develop health services in the North. We need our provincial and federal partners to support innovation and services to ensure all First Nations citizens in Northern Manitoba receive access to equitable and quality health care.

There are still many health-related issues that need to be addressed. I look forward to working with this government to ensure the challenges of the North are addressed.”




For more information:

Melanie Ferris, MKO Communications

Phone: 204-612-1284

Email: [email protected]