The Government of Canada invests in safer health systems through the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Sturgeon Lake First Nation  

News release

May 17, 2022 —Treaty 6 Territory, Saskatchewan — Indigenous Services Canada


As part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to addressing anti-Indigenous racism in health systems, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is supporting the expansion of Indigenous Health Human Resources and Indigenous midwifery initiatives.

The Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) Indigenous Practical Nursing program is expanding its Indigenous Practical Nursing Diploma program to rural and remote locations. This is the first dedicated Indigenous Practical Nursing program in Canada, rooted in Indigenous worldviews and ways of knowing. The Indigenous Practical Nursing program supports the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action to increase the number of Indigenous professionals in Canada’s health systems. The program, which is informed by the ongoing impacts of colonization, guided by Indigenous Peoples, and rooted in cultural safety and humility, will be instrumental in advancing the provision of health services throughout the system. Initiatives such as this, which focus on building capacity at the community level and increasing Indigenous health human resources, are critical at this time. The department is proud to have supported SIIT’s work by contributing $2.25 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

In addition to this investment, the Government of Canada is also taking action to support Indigenous communities in bringing traditional births closer to home. It is recognized that expanding support for Indigenous midwifery and doula initiatives is critical in ensuring access to culturally appropriate, responsive and safe services. Sturgeon Lake First Nation (SLFN) is at the forefront of this work and, in February 2022, celebrated the first midwife-assisted traditional birth in the community in decades. Through this work, the community is revitalizing at-home births as well as improving access to culturally safe services for mothers. ISC contributed $350,000 toward the construction of SLFN’s birthing centre—one of many partner-led health initiatives that focus on midwifery.

The Government of Canada remains committed to addressing anti-Indigenous racism in our health systems in a way that is informed by the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples and based on the recognition of rights of Indigenous Peoples, respect and co-operation. 


The Government of Canada is dedicated to supporting equitable and culturally safe, community-led, and distinctions-based approaches to healthcare. We will continue to work with all partners to increase cultural safety and respect for Indigenous Peoples in Canada’s healthcare systems. Likewise, the investments made toward the establishment of expanding support for Indigenous midwifery and doula initiatives are an important step to expanding access to culturally safe spaces. Congratulations to the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies and Sturgeon Lake First Nation for their work in contributing to safer and more culturally inclusive systems in Saskatchewan.

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

“The expansion of SIIT’s Indigenous Practical Nursing program to rural and remote locations will provide increased access and opportunity for Indigenous Peoples who wish to enter the healthcare field. The impact will be far-reaching across Saskatchewan and Canada as a whole. Ensuring Indigenous representation is of paramount importance to improving the healthcare system, to confronting existing racism and discrimination, and to ensuring the provision of culturally responsive care.”

Riel Bellegarde, President and CEO
Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT)

“Pakitawākan sākahikanink Nēhiyawak (Sturgeon Lake First Nation Plains Cree People), situated on Treaty 6 Territory, acknowledges our inherent right to birth through our own traditional methods. We are reclaiming our right to practise our traditions within our home territory. With the construction of our birthing centre, we are one step closer to revitalizing midwifery with the help of our Elders, Knowledge Keepers and health centre staff. Sturgeon Lake First Nation is also working on bringing back midwives within our own community to help support our expectant mothers and fathers. With the guidance of our Creator and ancestors through ceremony, the continued practices of our culture, values and traditions will be preserved for our future generations.”

Chief Greg Ermine
Sturgeon Lake First Nation

Quick facts

  • Budget 2021 has committed $126.7 million, over three years, to foster health systems where Indigenous Peoples are respected and safe. 

  • This investment aligns with the federal response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Calls for Justice, by recognizing that Indigenous women and other marginalized groups, such as 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, are disproportionately impacted by anti-Indigenous racism in Canada's health systems.

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For more information, media may contact:

Alison Murphy
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Kelsi Prince
Director, Advancement
Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies

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