Government of Canada Commits Additional Support to Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Pursuit of First Nations Health Transformation

News release

August 5, 2021 — Ottawa, Traditional unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

First Nations health transformation is a priority for the Government of Canada. It is a collaborative process between Canada, First Nations partners, and provinces and territories, as they develop new First Nations-led health organizations to assume greater control of the design, administration, management, and delivery of health services and programs that support community wellness and address their health needs and priorities.

Today, Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, met virtually with Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler and committed $17.8 million over the next two years in additional federal support to Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) for their continued efforts and progress towards transforming the design and delivery of their health services.

Earlier this year, the Government of Canada signed a trilateral statement with NAN and the Government of Ontario, committing to work together in partnership to support the establishment of a First Nations health services delivery system in NAN Territory that will be governed by, and accountable to, First Nations.

These partners are currently working to advance the Wechedowin (Helping Each Other) document that will further articulate their key commitments towards health system reform, including the priority to create a NAN-wide health commission. This will ensure that NAN's 49 First Nations communities, which are mostly remote and isolated, have close-to-home access to culturally safe health programs, services and supports.

The paths to achieving health transformation will vary considerably across different regions as First Nations identify and design service delivery solutions tailored to meet their own community's needs. Each in their own way, resulting health models will foster a more accessible health care system for the communities they serve, ensuring that health services are high quality and culturally safe.

The Government of Canada's health transformation investments directly target the federal commitment to reducing the gap that exists in health outcomes between First Nations and non-Indigenous populations.


"This funding prioritizes First Nations ownership and control over the design and delivery of health services. The system that Nishnawbe Aski Nation is developing will ensure that the voices of all community members are heard and their health needs are met in a responsive, effective, and culturally safe manner."

Pam Damoff
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services

"For us to exercise self-determination over health we need to bring back accountability, responsibility to First Nations. This means changing the colonial system to a new system based on the needs and priorities of our communities. We appreciate that our federal Treaty partner is committed to the concept of Wechedowin (Helping Each Other) and will work with us to design an effective health system that meets the needs of the people of Nishnawbe Aski Nation. We look forward to the work ahead to improve health outcomes for our people."

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler
Nishnawbe Aski Nation

"Our government is committed to working collaboratively with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and our federal partners to support First Nations health care transformation. This investment is an essential step towards ensuring Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities throughout the province receive culturally appropriate, high-quality services closer to home."

Christine Elliott
Ontario Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Government of Ontario

Quick facts

  • The Nishnawbe Aski Nation Health System Transformation initiative is a collaborative, community-driven effort that involves First Nations communities, with support from health authorities and NAN Tribal Councils.

  • Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) is a political territorial organization in northern Ontario representing 49 First Nations communities with a population of approximately 45,000 individuals. NAN territory covers two-thirds of the landmass of Ontario.

  • The NAN Executive Council is elected by the Chiefs of NAN First Nations, and consists of the Grand Chief and three Deputy Grand Chiefs.

  • Thirty-four of the forty-nine NAN First Nations are remote and isolated, accessible only by air or winter ice road, resulting in additional challenges to delivering affordable health, education, and social services.

  • In 2017, NAN, Canada and Ontario signed the Charter of Relationship Principles supporting Health System Transformation in NAN territory to formalize the commitment of the partners to develop and sustain a renewed relationship, and to articulate the partners' support for a new responsive, system-wide approach to health in NAN territory.

  • NAN, Canada and Ontario are currently working to finalize the Wechedowin Document for presentation to NAN Chiefs at their Fall 2021 Assembly. The Wechedowin Document is a bridge document from the 2017 Charter that further articulates partner commitments to advancing health system transformation in NAN Territory.

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For more information, media may contact:

Adrienne Vaupshas
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services

Gina Fata
Strategic Information and Research Coordinator

David Jensen
Communications Division

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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