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New Reports Reaffirm Trends of Poor Health Outcomes and Under-Funded System for First Nations

October 5, 2022

Under the direction of the Chiefs-in-Assembly, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) has released its Diabetes and Childhood Vaccination Coverage reports. The reports highlight the disproportionate burden of health outcomes and health inequities within northern First Nations. SLFNHA calls for improved resources to support diabetes and vaccination programs.

“We are calling on the Federal and Provincial governments to provide us with a plan to increase supports for food security, food sovereignty, and improved health services for our northern First Nations. The burden of illness is increasing and the disparity between northern First Nations and Ontario is growing.” Janet Gordon, Acting CEO and President

Both reports reaffirm major health care gaps in First Nations, like critical staffing shortages and lack of sustainable funding that have persisted.

The reports also point to major health care gaps in First Nations, like critical staffing shortages and lack of sustainable funding. Findings in the Diabetes Report show that people living in Sioux Lookout area First Nations are getting diabetes at a younger age and are experiencing severe complications at a higher rate compared to the rest of Ontario.

Data from the Vaccination Coverage Report shows that the inequitable health services in northern communities resulted in vaccination coverage rates falling far below provincial averages and national goals. As a result, communities are at risk of outbreaks from vaccine-preventable diseases.

The reports have been released as an urgent call-to-action to address health inequities caused by systemic racism and colonial policies that have altered the Anishinabe way of life. Data from the reports goes to 2019, just prior to the onset of the pandemic.

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Omamun Ziibiis: A Place For Healing

Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority marked National Indigenous Peoples Day by opening the doors to the newest home for healing in the Sioux Region. Omamun Ziibiis, which means Vermillion River in Anishinabe, is the name given to the recently acquired lodge and adjoining grounds. These will be used for healing and other SLFNHA programming. The grounds were formerly known as River’s Edge Lodge, located on highway 664.

The event included a pancake breakfast and tours of the grounds. There was also horseshoe toss and lawn bowling to help break in the newly dubbed Omamun Ziibiis. SLFNHA was also honoured to be hosting special guests Chief Clifford Bull, of Lac Seul First Nation, and Mayor Doug Lawrence, of Sioux Lookout, who both shared their support for the new site.

SLFNHA is proud to present this newly renovated and accessible place for healing for the First Nations it serves, on National Indigenous Peoples Day. The Health Authority also acknowledges the camp is situated on the traditional territory of Lac Seul First Nation, signatory to Treaty 3. Miigwetch to all that joined to celebrate this new step for SLFNHA on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

Quotes

“We’re excited to present Omamun Ziibiis, a location that provides accessible health services connected to the land and the people we serve. This is another step in our organization’s move toward taking control of our own health care. It is important that our people find healing and recovery while having access to the land and this camp helps in that way. Today we are happy to share that the camp is officially open and will be functioning for the benefit of our people.”

  • James Morris, CEO and President, SLFNHA

“I believe the facility will greatly enhance the mental well-being and re

covery of the people in our region. Being on the land and close to the water is conducive to healing”

  • Chief Clifford Bull, Lac Seul First Nation

“It’s a privilege to be part of the opening of Omamun Ziibiis. The camp situated on the traditional territory of Lac Seul First Nation, will provide a naturally beautiful setting for people coming to Sioux Lookout for medical needs. The ability for SLFNHA to provide land

-based programming at this camp will be supportive for clients. We congratulate SLFNHA on the grand opening of the Omamun Ziibiis.”

  • Mayor Doug Lawrence, Sioux Lookout, Ontario

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Health Leaders Discuss Anishinabe Controlled Health Care Summit

 

The Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA) has concluded the 3-day Kanawenimitisoowin Summit: Honouring Community Voices, in Thunder Bay, which occurred from June 7 to 9. Delegates included a cross section of Elders, Chiefs, Health Directors, regional leaders and front-line workers from across SLFHNA’s service area, which includes 33 First Nation communities. The Summit’s Anishinabe title, Kanawenimitisoowin, translates to “Looking After Ourselves in Our Own Way.”

“For decades now, we’ve had access to the money for health care, and been given prescribed activities to design and provide health services. But we’ve never had the control we need to create an Anishinabe health system for our people. Our work here at the Summit is about getting that control.”

– James Morris, CEO and President, SLFNHA

The Summit served as a staging area for future engagement activities with Sioux Lookout area First Nation communities, which range in size from a few hundred to a few thousand. These efforts are to get as much input and commitment from communities about how they want health care designed, accessed and provided. The Summit theme also centred on how the Anishinabe people must assert more control over the health system, to address the systemic issues that have created a vast gap is health equity between Indigenous Peoples and the average Canadian.

One notable guest speaker was Donna Galbreath, from the Southcentral Foundation based in Anchorage, Alaska, who spoke about their Nuka System of Care, which is a relationship-based, customer-owned approach to transforming health care, improving outcomes and reducing costs.

Other speakers included Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Victor Linklater and Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh of Treaty #3. Elders from the region were also present to share their knowledge and experiences with attendees. Bishop Lydia Mamakwa of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh offered prayers to bless delegates and their discussions, at the beginning and end of each day.

At the conclusion of the Summit, all delegates worked together on a Statement to guide next steps. An excerpt reads:

We the people, come together in unity to honour community voices to take control of our health care system by fundamentally changing and transforming the way things are done. We will move forward in developing a health care system that will work for our people based on our culture and values. We come together as Anishinabe people in collaboration as we design our destiny and define the steps along the way. We will continue to assert our inherent and Treaty rights to look after the health of our people.

Quotes

“I share the vision my late husband, Josias Fiddler, had for better health services for the region, and the advocacy that’s ongoing since the Hunger Strike of ’88. Any direction from this gathering should be taken seriously to move forward in a good way.”

– Teri Fiddler, Elder, Sandy Lake First Nation

“I appreciate the opportunity to share my personal Health Transformation journey, and I pray that it has helped someone. In the Summit, we have heard about the challenges of accessibility, and lack of services in our communities. I believe that in time, we can move the yardstick to improve the health outcomes of our people.”

– Victor H. Linklater, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief

 

Guest presentations and recordings of the Summit are available the SLFNHA website at https://www.slfnha.com/kanawenimitisoowin-summit.

 

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For more information please contact:

Hugh Mullally

Communications Manager
807-697-3206
807-738-6801
communications@slfnha.com