“Implementing the treaty right to health is much more meaningful because we’re practicing it,” File Hills Qu’Appelle tribal council Chief Edmund Bellegarde said.
The new facility boasts nine dialysis machines and six new units that will serve up to 24 patients per day.
“It was really the importance of…the needs within the First Nation population as it relates to dialysis, but also the importance of setting up a structure so we can look at improving health outcomes in other First Nation people,” Scott Livingstone, CEO of the SHA, said.
Indigenous peoples are among the highest-risk population for diabetes, particularly Indigenous women and girls.
“First Nations people in this province do not fare as well as other Canadians with respect to health outcomes and there’s a big gap for us to fill,” Livingstone said.
“It’s had an impact and the prevalence of diabetes in our communities, amongst our population, is much more prevalent than in major society,” Bellegarde said.
Prior to the facility, patients in the Qu’Appelle Valley had to travel to Regina for treatment – a costly and time-consuming venture that compelled the All Nations Healing Hospital to bring the technology closer to home.
“Not having to traffic these highways in the middle of winter, not having to leave their communities, or go further from their communities – that’s a huge thing,“ Bellegarde said.
The new facility does more than answer a community need, it’s the beginning of a new way of looking at medicine in Saskatchewan – offering traditional healing for patients and the best of modern medicine.
“There are ways of knowing and ways of healing in the Indigenous people’s ways and then there’s Western science. So it’s respecting and recognizing both,” Bellegarde said.
The project is the first the All Nations Healing Hospital has worked on with the SHA, but it could be the blueprint for healthcare options across the province.
“We’re very interested in looking at opportunities to expand our scope of services, improve access towards local communities, but also close that gap and help disparities with First Nations and First Nations people,” Livingstone said.