Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. is hosting a Chiefs’ Special Assembly on Health in Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Treaty Five Territory, on January 22 and 23, 2020. MKO hosts assemblies several times each year as one of the main ways for Chiefs and their proxies to provide direction to Grand Chief Garrison Settee on the advocacy work they want MKO to carry out on their behalf.

The Assembly will begin with a sunrise pipe ceremony on Wednesday, January 22 at 7:30 am. This will be followed by an opening ceremony beginning at 9 am, where a drum group will perform a grand entry song, a flag song, and a victory song. MKO invites Chiefs, dignitaries, Elders, Councillors, and youth delegates to take part in the grand entry. Following the grand entry, an Elder will provide an opening prayer.

Following the opening ceremony, opening remarks will be provided by Onekanew Christian Sinclair; MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee; Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Arlen Dumas; Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) Grand Chief Jerry Daniels; Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Kevin Hart; and MKO’s Executive Director Kelvin Lynxleg. Our emcee for the Chiefs’ Assembly is Kevin Carlson.

The Assembly will cover many important topics and orders of business regarding the transformation of health in the North. The first presenter will be Chief Larson Anderson of the Norway House Cree Nation. As the Chairperson of MKO’s Chiefs Task Force on Health, Chief Anderson will present on the governance of Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin at 10:30 am.

Clinical Care Transformation (CCT) staff member Sharon McKay from the MKO will then provide information on the operations of Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin at 11 am. This presentation will also provide updates and next steps for the CCT Unit.

After lunch on January 22, CCT staff members Dr. Barry Lavallee, Caroline Chartrand, and Joni Wilson will talk about linking Northern First Nations early clinical successes with future planning. Three MKO program managers will then provide updates on their programs, including Justin Courchene of the Mobile Crisis Response Team; Duke Beardy of the Traditional Healing Program; and Bernice Thorassie, MKO’s Client Navigator.

At 2:30 pm, Kelvin Lynxleg will provide information about the transition of MKO Health Programs to Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin.

Day one of our Assembly will feature updates on health transformation from the AMC and SCO. At 3 pm, Melanie MacKinnon, Senior Health Advisor at the AMC, will provide a presentation entitled “Wahbung: Our Tomorrows Imagined.” At 3:30 pm, Debbie Reid, Director of Health Transformation at the SCO, will provide a presentation on health transformation and Southern First Nations.

Day one will wrap up between 4 and 4:30 pm with the opportunity for Chiefs to bring forward any resolutions they would like to pass.

Day two of our Assembly takes place on Thursday, January 23, and begins at 9 am with an Elder providing an opening for the day.

MKO is pleased to have former National Chief Ovide Mercredi join us to share about how the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) in Ontario is handling health transformation. His presentation happens at 9:15 am and will be followed by a second presentation from NAN Deputy Grand Chief Walter Naveau and NAN’s Social Services Director Bobby Narcisse at 10:15 am on the topic of a “National Remoteness Quotient Strategy on Child Welfare.”

Pam Smith, the Regional Executive Officer of Indigenous Services Canada in Manitoba, will provide an update on federal health transformation projects at 11 am.

Following our lunch break, we will hear about community health assessments in the Northern Health Region. Our presenters are Dr. Michael Isaac, Medical Officer of Health; Kara Kozar, Planning and Decision Support Analyst; Charlene Lafreniere, Chief Indigenous Officer; and Joy Tetlock, Vice-President of Planning and Population Health.

At 2 pm, Chief Clarence Easter of the Chemawawin Cree Nation and Ken Mackenzie, Director of Health Services will provide a presentation entitled “CCT First Nations Initiatives & Innovations: Natawiwewak Medical Clinic.”

At 2:45 pm, Health Director Glen Ross will provide a presentation called “CCT First Nations Initiatives & Innovations: Opaskwayak Health Authority.”

At 3:15 pm, emcee Kevin Carlson will facilitate any final resolutions the Chiefs and/or proxies want to make during the Assembly. The Assembly will then close in a good way with a prayer and a drum song to retire the eagle staff.

The Chiefs’ Special Assembly on Health is open to the public and is taking place at the Kikiwak Inn in Opaskwayak Cree Nation. Some of the proceedings will be live streamed on our Facebook page. MKO looks forward to welcoming all Chiefs, proxies, and presenters to the Assembly. You can download a PDF copy of our Assembly agenda here.