APTN National News
Alberta First Nations in Treaty territories 6, 7 and 8 have come together to form a health consortium to ensure equal health care for children living on reserve.
The consortium met Tuesday at Enoch Cree Nation.
The mandate of the consortium is to improve communications between the province and federal government when it comes to First Nation children receiving medical and mental health treatment as soon as it’s needed.
“The First Nations Health Consortium will develop and demonstrate child-centered service coordination that will effectively and efficiently meet all the health and social needs of all First Nations children in Alberta,” said First Nations Health Consortium President Tyler White.
The consortium will also incorporate Jordan’s Principle. It was created after Jordan River Anderson was born in Manitoba with severe health problems. He died in 2005 when the province and federal governments couldn’t decide who would pay for his services.
Jordan’s Principle ensures a child receives care first, and who pays for the services is decided later.
“This tragedy is only one example of what our people feel on a daily basis,” said Siksika Chief Joseph Weaselchild. “We are not here asking for a handout. The time for talk is done. We have our own traditional and contemporary knowledge holders. This is what we’re going to be incorporating.”
Health Canada will provide $5 million over three years to help with the project.
“We are the link between the child and the needed program, service, supplies, equipment and support,” said Weaselchild.
The Alberta government said its committed to improving health and mental services to First Nations youth.
“I am pleased that here in Alberta our government will put the needs of the child first when making decisions about the delivery of programs and services to children. But we can always do better and we must,” said Alberta Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee.
Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy’s child advocacy centre based in Calgary will assist the consortium.
“I think when we communicate as a group and really share the pertinent information that is in front of us to do the best we can with the information in front of us…the child in front of us. The family in front of us will get better outcomes. That is what I know,” said Kennedy.