For immediate release
January 23, 2020

Treaty Five Territory, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, MBManitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) Inc. held a Chiefs’ Special Assembly on Health over the past two days in Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Manitoba. The Assembly was an opportunity for leaders from 26 First Nations to come together to work on transforming health in the North.

“Health transformation is one of the major issues we are working on at Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak,” stated Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “First Nations citizens know that health is holistic and isn’t simply about the absence of illness. We know that health includes aspects such as housing, education, safety, employment, child welfare, and poverty. Over the past two days we discussed many issues connected to the social determinants of health. We will continue to work to address and advocate on a wide variety of issues impacting the health of people living in Northern Manitoba.”

The Chiefs-in-Assembly unanimously passed seven resolutions during the event. The resolutions were on:

  • First Nations Safety Officers Program
  • Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and the Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. to support the Opaskwayak Health Authority in establishing itself as one of the regional centres
  • Health service gaps to Northern First Nations communities
  • Transformation funding: Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc.
  • Transition of programs and services to Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc.
  • Opioid replacement therapy
  • Caring for children: Support for sexual assault kits to be made available along with the relevant specialize support systems in the North, including for Nursing Stations

Representatives from Indigenous Services Canada and the Northern Health Region attended the Assembly to provide updates and information to the leadership. Staff and leadership from the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) in Northern Ontario attended the event to provide information on what is happening in health transformation in the NAN region. The Chiefs Task Force on Health at MKO also provided updates to help move work forward to establish a health entity for Northern Manitoba.

The Chiefs Task Force on Health signs a bylaw to establish Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin on January 22, 2020.

“History was made at our Assembly on January 22, 2020, with the signing of a bylaw that establishes the Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc.,” shared Grand Chief Settee. “I am encouraged by the leadership from MKO territory for supporting the creation of this non-share corporation that will support, provide, and contract for health and wellness-related services to First Nations citizens living in Northern Manitoba.”

MKO and Grand Chief Settee will work to move the resolutions forward to enhance the health of children, youth, adults, and seniors/Elders from Northern First Nations.