Indigenous Panel

Members identified opportunities to improve primary health care in Alberta for Indigenous Peoples.

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Modernizing Alberta's Primary Health Care System

Overview

The Indigenous Panel provided advice and recommendations to help transform Alberta’s primary health care system in order to provide accessible, relevant, and culturally safe primary health care to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

The panel brought together First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives, voices and wisdom to identify immediate and long term recommendations for making improvements, monitoring progress on initiatives and reducing pressure on the acute care system.

Recommendations from the panel will support the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System initiative to strengthen primary health care in Alberta and ensure all Indigenous Peoples have access to timely, appropriate primary health care services.

Timeline

  • Open

  • Results under review

  • Completed

    Final report released October 2023

Who is listening

Ministry of Health

Mandate

The Indigenous Panel contributed to a final report that includes a recommended strategy to modernize Alberta's primary health care system. The panel's work was guided by the following goals:

  • Culturally safe and appropriate care - First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples have access to high quality, culturally safe care designed and delivered in a manner that respects their unique health care needs.
  • Access - First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Alberta have access to timely, appropriate primary health care services from a regular provider or team. Care options are flexible and reflect individual and population health needs.
  • Integration - First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Alberta have a health home that provides primary health care services and seamless transitions to other health, social and community services. Coordination and communication between First Nations and Métis communities, health service providers, and organizations are promoted and facilitated by service planning and the provincial governance structure.
  • Quality - First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples receive high quality services from an accountable, innovative and sustainable primary health care system. Health service delivery is evidence informed, follows best practices and uses resources efficiently.
  • Indigenous Peoples as partners - First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and their social support networks are meaningful partners in achieving their health and wellness goals. Health services are proactive, recognize and address underlying influences on health outcomes, and respect individual needs and preferences.

The panel has finished their work and presented their report to government.

Outcomes

Recommendations from the Indigenous Panel will help to inform improvements to Alberta's primary health care system over the next 10 years.

We moved forward with historical funding commitments in February 2023 that include early investments to strengthen the primary health care system:

The panel's final report contains 22 recommendations under 5 themes:

  • improve health equity for Indigenous Peoples
  • address Indigenous racism in health care
  • build culturally safer primary health care and an Indigenous workforce
  • create system innovation and support community capacity
  • Indigenous ownership, stewardship, design and delivery of health care services

Panel members

The Indigenous Panel members included representatives from First Nations, Métis and Inuit groups, and/or Indigenous-serving organizations that have health-based mandates, Indigenous patients, families and caregivers, Indigenous youth, academics and health professionals.

Tyler White, Chair

Tyler White is a member of Siksika Nation who has more than 20 years of experience in First Nations health care, and works closely with the Government of Alberta, Alberta Health Services (AHS), and the federal government on policies and programs to improve services and supports for Siksika members. Tyler most recently supported Alberta on numerous initiatives including the Human Trafficking Task Force, the Provincial Child Intervention Panel, the Provincial Mental Health Review, and Jordan’s Principle. A past winner of the First Nations Health Manager’s Award of Excellence, he is highly respected for his ability to collaborate, innovate, and build relationships across organizations and governments. Tyler also received an honorary Doctorate of Law Degree from Old Sun Community College in 2021.

Tina Yellowdirt-Mitsuing, Panellist

Tina works with the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations of Alberta and has worked with many other First Nations organizations such as the First Nations Information Governance Centre. Tina has contributed to key First Nations health status reports, including treating opioid misuse, perspectives into data linkages involving First Nations data, and engaging First Nations’ Knowledge Holders, health care providers, and technicians on emergency department concerns.

Dr. Cara Bablitz, Panellist

Dr. Cara Bablitz is a Métis woman raised in northern Alberta. Dr. Bablitz practiced as a rural locum and after completing her residency, she returned to Edmonton and currently practices at the Indigenous Wellness Clinic at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. She developed the Palliative Care Outreach and Advocacy Team to provide primary palliative care to patients who are vulnerable due to poverty as well as the historical legacy of colonization and residential schools. Dr. Bablitz was instrumental in creating the AMA Policy Paper on Indigenous Health and has been the Chair of the AMA Indigenous Health Committee since 2017.

Kathy Lepine, Panellist

Recently voted the Health Board Chair, Kathy leads the Metis Settlements Health Advisory Committee on behalf of the eight Metis Settlements. As a long-standing General Council member of Elizabeth Metis Settlement, Kathy has extensive experience and knowledge of Métis health, community needs and challenges. Most recently, Kathy has been instrumental in collaborating with Alberta Health on better understanding Settlement health issues and advocating to improve health outcomes for Metis Settlements.

Philp Dua, Panellist

Philp Dua is the Director of Montana First Nations Integrated Services, and previously served as the Director of Social Services and Social Development in Montana First Nations for twelve years. Through his experience, Philip Dua has developed a clear understanding of the importance of team-based care, the needs and issues impacting primary health care delivery for Montana First Nations members.

Lorraine Muskwa, Panellist

From Bigstone Cree Nation and with over 20 years of Indigenous health leadership experience, Lorraine Muskwa is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Bigstone Health Commission. Bigstone Health Commission is a provincially and nationally known ‘first class’ health organization that provides clinical and wrap-around disease prevention programs.  She has worked as Health Director for Peerless Trout First Nation and Operations Manager with Lubicon Lake Band. Lorraine Muskwa has recently completed a four-year term as board member on the Canadian Blood Services Board of Directors, and is currently the Vice-President and Board Director with the First Nations Health Managers Association for which she has served on for 10 years. 

Candace Cunningham, Panellist

Candace Cunningham is a licensed practical nurse, and Health Manager for Kapawe’no First Nation. Candace Cunningham understands issues impacting primary care delivery in rural and remote locations, and on First Nations. As a health care provider and First Nations manager, Candace has been instrumental in developing primary care programs in northern Alberta, including building connections with AHS providers in the area, developing a sustainable medical transportation program, and expanding primary care services in the region.

Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, Panellist

Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, born and raised on the Blood Tribe, graduated from the University of North Dakota, School of Medicine and completed her Family Medicine residency at the University of Alberta. Dr. Tailfeathers has worked with many First Nations over the past 30 years, including Blood Tribe, Fort Chipewyan, and Blackfeet Reservation (in Montana). More recently, Dr. Tailfeathers led aspects of the COVID-19 response in relation to First Nations and Métis

Margo Dodginghorse, Panellist

Working in First Nations health care for over a decade, Margo Dodginghorse is the Health Director for Stoney Nakoda-Tsuut’ina Tribal Council and a member of Siksika Nation. Margo was crucial in the negotiations leading to the development of the Government of Alberta-Stoney Nakoda-Tsuut’ina Tribal Council Protocol Agreement, and is a strong collaborator with Alberta Health on identifying innovative ways to improve access to primary care for First Nations members. Recently, Margo was a Co-Chair of the First Nations Health Director’s Advisory Committee, and a member appointed to the Minister’s Vaccine Hesitancy Advisory Committee.

Billy (William) Morin, Panellist

Billy Morin served as Chief of Enoch Cree Nation for three terms, and Grand Chief of Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations for one term. Billy Morin’s accomplishments include revitalizing Cree language and culture, prioritizing youth education and empowerment, and catalyzing Enoch’s exponential economic development to diversify the Nation’s businesses. Related to health, Billy Morin led the negotiation of a partnership agreement between Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, and Indigenous Services Canada, and was crucial in facilitating and leading Enoch Cree Nations’ surgical center project. Billy Morin recognizes the value of health system innovation through partnerships between provincial, federal, municipal, and First Nations leading to health system sustainability and improved health outcomes

Derrick Fox, Panellist

Derrick Fox has been crucial in the development of an innovative, partnership based, primary health care delivery system on Blood Tribe reserve. Derrick Fox’s visionary leadership led to a partnership with the University of Lethbridge to provide health care training for Blood Tribe members, with career placement opportunities within the community. Derrick Fox’s leadership and expertise have been crucial to the capital expansion of continuing care services under the provincial Continuing Care Capital Grant program, and the Bringing the Spirt Home program. Derrick Fox is a valued partner, and his dedication to improving health care service delivery for Blood Tribe members has become a national model to be exemplified.

Gloria Letendre, Panellist

Gloria Letendre is a First Nations Nurse Practitioner who has over 30 years of experience providing clinical care in First Nations and Métis communities throughout Alberta. Gloria is regarded as an expert in primary care delivery. She was crucial in developing measures and clinical responses to support the COVID-19 pandemic in the remote community of the Tall Cree First Nation. Gloria has experience and understands the broader societal impacts influencing First Nations, Métis, and Inuit health in Alberta.