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(March 30, 2022 Fort McMurray, AB) – Athabasca Tribal Council (ATC) and Alberta Health Services (AHS) are excited to announce that they have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will establish the basis for a partnership to design and implement an Indigenous Health Clinic at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC) in Fort McMurray.

“Over the next five years, ATC and AHS will be working collaboratively to improve access to quality health care for Indigenous people in northern Alberta,” says Karla Buffalo, CEO of Athabasca Tribal Council. “This will ensure that the five First Nations served by ATC will directly determine the services they need most. ATC is looking forward to working directly with communities to deliver health care to Indigenous people of the region.”

Clinic services will be determined following community engagement. More information about engagement opportunities will be shared with the community once this planning is finalized.

Part of this work may include supporting cultural awareness and sensitivity, helping users navigate the healthcare system, and assisting with referrals to addiction and mental health supports. This partnership will help to ensure that anyone needing quality health care can access the services and support they need.

“This is, at its heart, a conversation with Indigenous communities on the problems they have experienced accessing quality health care. Working together with AHS we will ensure that First Nations people receive the services they need while recognizing our traditional culture,” says Chief Allan Adam, President of Athabasca Tribal Council.

“AHS is committed to continuing to work with our partners and Indigenous communities to improve the care we provide, ensuring culturally safe, accessible healthcare for everyone,” says Murray Crawford, AHS Senior Operating Officer, Fort McMurray. “We look forward to working with the Athabasca Tribal Council, and engaging with all Indigenous residents and communities to plan and design the Indigenous Health Clinic. Once open, this clinic will provide accessible, culturally safe health services for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in the Fort Murray region.”

“We are excited to see this new Indigenous Health Clinic take shape in Fort McMurray,” says Jason Copping, Minister of Health, Government of Alberta. “As part of our mission to provide care for all Albertans, no matter where they live, this partnership is an important step to providing culturally appropriate care and will help build stronger communities, families and health care capacity for Indigenous peoples and northern Albertans alike.”

“The Northern Lights Health Foundation is honoured to be a partner in the creation of the Indigenous Health Clinic,” says Cindy Amerongen, Executive Director, Northern Lights Health Foundation.  “We’ll work with ATC and AHS to secure funding partners to support the engagement conversations and clinic construction. The Health Foundation Board is proud to represent this project.

The Indigenous Health Clinic, which will likely be located in the current vacant space on the former long-term care floor at the Northern Lights Regional Hospital, is an important step towards First Nations self-determination in their health care delivery.

“By working collaboratively, ATC is hopeful that we can find solutions that respect Indigenous culture and ensure our community members receive the health care support they need,” concluded Buffalo.

This partnership between ATC and AHS is an opportunity to ensure Indigenous People receive the care they need, and to support hard working health care workers.

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