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MKO getting $23.7 million in federal health and safety funding

Most of the money will go towards enhancing First Nations leadership of health care service delivery.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee, right, with a picture presented to him by Indigenous Services Canada Minister Patty Hajdu, left, during a Nov. 25 announcement of $23.7 million in federal government funding for MKO to transform the delivery of health services by its First Nations and to enhance their law-making capacity.

The federal government announced Nov. 25 that it is investing $23.7 million in efforts by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak to deliver health services and develop public safety initiatives for the 23 Northern Manitoba First Nations it represents, many of which are remote and do not have year-round road access.

Indigenous Services Canada Minister Patty Hajdu made the announcement in Winnipeg. 

$23 million will got to MKO and its health organization Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin, which is Cree for Northern Peoples’ Wellness, over two years to help them transform how health services are delivered to members of MKO First Nations.

“Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak and Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. are leading the way on Indigenous designed and led services,” said Hajdu in a news release. “Self-determination is the path to better care, healthier people and communities.”

The federal government and MKO signed an memorandum of understanding in 2018 that they would work together towards a First Nations-led health care transformation in MKO territory. Two years later, MKO established KIM to help ensure that Northern Manitoba First Nations people have access to health-related services that reflect their needs and priorities.

“During the pandemic, Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. has demonstrated ability, and progressive leadership in health transformation for First Nations people in Northern Manitoba,” said KIM CEO Dr. Barry Lavallee. “Our partnerships with the First Nations communities are the foundation to health transformation. The federal government has provided solid support that will allow our team to continue to build towards a new and innovative healthcare system for First Nations. Moving forward our relationships with the federal government, other regional parties play a significant role in changing the healthcare system.”

$715,000 will also go to MKO over three years through ISC’s Pathways to Safe Indigenous Communities Initiative. This money is intended to help it enhance the law-making capacity of its First Nations and to advance recognition of, respect for and enforcement of First Nation laws, bylaws and customary bylaws.

“It is the vision of the MKO First Nations that our MKO First Nation communities are the healthiest and safest places for our citizens to live,” said MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “The recognition, respect, enforcement and adjudication of enforceable First Nation health and public safety standards and laws that reflect community priorities are a key part of the path toward the health, safety and well-being of the MKO First Nations. MKO is working in partnership with KIM and Canada to develop community safety and well-being plans centred within an Indigenous world view and perspective and founded on Indigenous protocols, customary laws and objectives for public safety, health and wellness.”

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