FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 27, 2023
ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — Today, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Canada to ensure that First Nations leaders are included in health discussions on February 7, 2023.
“Health care systems are in crisis. They are not meeting the needs of First Nations people, and this is why we are working to transform health at the Southern Chiefs’ Organization,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “First Nations citizens know that we need better services and systems to be healthy, and we need to be able to speak on behalf of our Nations at the First Ministers’ meeting dealing with federal health funding transfers next month.”
First Nations citizens experience disproportionate health challenges and a lower life expectancy compared to non-First Nations citizens in Manitoba.
“The Province of Manitoba continues to receive funding from the Government of Canada to provide health services to us and yet, many of our citizens continue to experience significant challenges when we try to access these services. One major challenge we face is the racism that is embedded within these systems,” shared Grand Chief Daniels. “A first step in combatting this insidious racism is for us to be able to represent and advocate on behalf of our citizens. It is essential we work directly with the federal government to improve health for our First Nations.”
SCO calls on the federal government to invite First Nation leadership to the meeting on February 7 as a sign of respect for First Nations.
“While the Prime Minister’s Office indicates their desire to build a reliable health care system, SCO asserts that First Nations leaders must have the opportunity to speak on behalf of our needs. Ottawa says it wants more data from provincial health care systems. I remind all leaders in government that First Nations must be able to control, access, protect, and own the data for our people. I urge the Prime Minister to ensure we have a seat at the table on February 7,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels.
SCO continues to move ahead with health transformation. In June 2022, the Province of Manitoba committed to develop an Agreement-in-Principle with SCO and Canada. This First Nations led tripartite table will result in the formation of a southern First Nation Health Authority in Manitoba.
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 83,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.
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