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Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre opening Wije’winen Health Centre

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Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre opening Wije’winen Health Centre
WATCH: The Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre already offers over 50 services to support the urban Indigenous community and now, they're adding another. The center will soon be opening a health clinic to address the health needs of Indigenous individuals in a culturally appropriate way. As Alicia Draus reports, doctors will start seeing patients next week – Jul 7, 2022

A health clinic for the urban Indigenous population has been identified as a need for decades. Now it’s becoming a reality in Halifax.

“So we’ve been looking for a while for an Indigenous doctor and we were very blessed out of the blue I get an email from Brent and here we are,” said Pam Glode-Desrochers, executive director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre (MNFC).

Brent Young is the academic director for Indigenous Health and assistant professor on the Faulty of medicine at Dalhousie University.  He recently completed his residency in Calgary and will now be the clinical lead for the urban Indigenous Wellness initiative with MNFC.

“Being from the urban Indigenous context, myself, it was always very important for me to be able to serve this community,” said Young.

Dr. Brent Young checks heartbeat of patient Charlotte Bernard. Alicia Draus / Global News

“I’m Anishinabek but my mom was a 60s-scoop survivor. My grandmother was a residential school survivor. So we landed back here in Nova Scotia and I grew up in Cape Breton.”

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Read more: Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre gets federal cash influx for new facility

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The clinic, located in the Friendship Centre, will begin accepting reservations Friday with the first patient appointments scheduled for next Thursday. The clinic is reserved for indigenous clients and expects to serve between 800-1000 patients in it’s first year.

“Due to colonialism and racism here in our country, indigenous people face very unique barriers and and very unique challenges in terms of social determinants of health,” said Young.

“That is things like access to training employment, housing and food, that result in health disparities like addictions mental health issues, diabetes. ”

The wellness centre will provide services tailored to those specific needs and in a culturally appropriate manner.

Wije’winen Health Centre wait room. Alicia Draus / Global News

“Many community members are often left out of mainstream services,” said Glode-Desrochers.

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“They don’t see themselves in that space so they don’t go there….this will actually help bridge some of those gaps.”

In addition to Brent Young, the staff will have two part-time physicians, a full time registered nurse, a nurse practitioner and two administrative assistants.

“The reality is health care is in a crisis point. It’s not one solution that’s going to fix it, it’s going to be many, and we’re hoping to be one piece of that puzzle,” said Glode-Desrochers.

 

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