13 Mi’kmaw Nations in Nova Scotia begin process to take over health care services

The chiefs of 13 Mi’kmaw Nations in Nova Scotia have signed an agreement with the federal and provincial governments that will allow them to take over health care services for their people.

“We have a voice in healthcare and we can now lead the way in transforming and making sure that the programs being delivered are the ones that we need, not the ones that are being told we need,” said Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul.

The transfer of services will be handled by Tajikeimik, a health and wellness organization.

Sharon Rudderham, the director of the organization, said there are “dramatic differences in our mortality.”

“Our health and chronic health conditions from mental health to cardiovascular to every category there is in cancer,” she said.

“You know we have higher rates of health issues that are facing our Mi’kmaw health communities,” said Rudderham.

The transfer of federal health services will create a new system that is Mi’kmaw led and culturally safe to improve healthcare and services for the Mi’kmaw.

Health transformation helps Canada meet its commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, states in Article 23, “Indigenous people have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programs affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions.”

The federal government is paying $15 million over three years to help with the transfer and lead to better services.

“Services that are designed by Indigenous people and delivered by Indigenous peoples have the ability to better reflect the needs of the people that they are serving,” she said.

The transfer is expected to be completed over the next seven years.

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