A partnership between a First Nation and the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) aims to open doors for research projects using an MRI and educational opportunities for Indigenous youth.
The university’s college of medicine signed a memorandum of understanding with the chiefs of James Smith Cree Nation (JSCN) on Thursday in Saskatoon.
“This MOU now is a benefit to our First Nations … this is a huge benefit for the younger generation, especially the ones that are going into Grade 12 back at home,” Chakastaypasin Chief Calvin Sanderson said.
“We had about, I think close to a little over 20 graduates this year alone and there’s all kinds of occupation(s) for our First Nations youth and one of them is medical. This is going to be huge – to be a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist – and this institute is going to help our First Nations.”
Sanderson said after over a year-and-a-half of work they’ve signed a lease agreement to establish a MRI and CT facility in the city.
Under the MOU, the proposed facility would increase access to MRI 3 Tesla (MRI 3T) and other radiology services for U of S researchers.
Officials said the advanced MRI equipment has a magnetic field strength twice as powerful as standard scanners to take extremely clear images. It would be the second MRI 3T in Saskatchewan.
JSCN is roughly 175 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. It is comprised of three separate Cree communities: James Smith, Peter Chapman, and Chakastapaysin.