SCO Releases Transformational Report on First Nations Health

July 10, 2024

“This report provides a blueprint for delivering health care for our people, our way.”

Grand Chief Jerry Daniels

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 10, 2024

ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB —The Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is pleased to announce the official release of a report outlining and acknowledging the paths to true self-determination and sovereignty when it comes to health care delivery for First Nations.

“Decolonization: Recognizing First Nations Sovereignty” is SCO’s response to Canada’s call for engagement on the co-development of distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation to improve access and address health inequities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The report also notes the legal and policy tools required to address the health inequities and calls for decolonization in health, along with successful co-development of First Nations health legislation with our federal, provincial, and other Treaty partners.

“This report is another crucial step towards achieving legislative reconciliation for health care,” said SCO Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “I want to recognize and commend the efforts of SCO’s Health Transformation Team for preparing this vital report for the rest of the world to see.”

The report was unveiled earlier this week by a delegation of SCO leadership and team members at the 17th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. SCO is proud that the report will now be on international record as a leader in health transformation worldwide.

Along with outlining the fact that past and present systems that govern health care have institutionalized and normalized rules and practices that exist for the sole purpose of assimilating or marginalizing First Nations citizens, this new report also explores how to decolonize the health care system.

The proposed model of decolonization requires Canada to relinquish its illegitimate, unilateral control of our lands and system and structures that impact our people. This will enable each member Nation to take care of their Nations, people, and future generations. This must be done in conjunction with fiscal structures that provide SCO member Nations with their rightful share of the prosperity created on their territories. With these resources, Nations will be able to address colonial determinants of health caused by conditions of poverty and start to implement holistic solutions based on positive First Nation determinants of health.

“This report puts an evidence-based stamp on what we have known for so long,” added Chief Kurvis Anderson of the Pinaymootang First Nation. “The most detrimental determinants of health for First Nations citizens stem from the effects of colonization. We cannot delay any longer when it comes to implementing a system that fully contributes to the health and wellness of our citizens.”

First Nations must have control over all the determinants of health that affect them, according to the report. This includes housing, the economy, environment, culture, immigration, and the design and delivery of health care. We must have sole control in our Nations and shared control on our traditional territories. Canada must also recognize that First Nations have a right to the land and to share the wealth from the land so the Nations can properly fund their programs and services, just as Canada uses the wealth from the land to fund its programs and services.

“I am confident that we all share a common goal of developing a healthier future, guided by principles informed by Anishinaabe and Dakota ways,” said Karlene Debance, Chief Executive Officer of SCO Health Transformation. “I am hopeful this report will lead to collaboration with all levels of government as we establish a new health care model where First Nations leadership and health care professionals have increased self-administration, self-determination, and self-governance authority.”

“This report, along with what we heard during community engagements sessions, clearly shows that SCO member Nations want to take back control of their health systems and take care of themselves in every possible area,” concluded Grand Chief Daniels. “We will no longer be invisible in our own lands and territories, and I am excited to see the next stages unfold when it comes to developing health care, our way.”

“Decolonization: Recognizing First Nations Sovereignty 2024,” along with all of our HT initiatives, can be read in their entirety by visiting: www.scoinc.mb.ca/health-transformation/

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The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 87,000 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.

For media inquiries:

Email: Media@scoinc.mb.ca