Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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April 14, 2016


OTTAWA, ON (April 14, 2016): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, First Nation leaders and health officials presented five strategic recommendations to address the suicide and health crisis in NAN territory to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development this afternoon.

“We have developed key recommendations to improve the delivery of health services and improve outcomes for our First Nations and we hope that our insight will be given serious consideration by Parliament,” said NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “The health and suicide crisis across NAN territory is a national tragedy that requires immediate attention by the Government of Canada, and we are encouraged that the Committee recognizes the urgency for action. We thank the Committee for their valuable work and look forward to working with this government on implementation.”

“I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from people across Canada and around the world who are saddened by the situation of the Mushkegowuk Ininiwuk. They care, they want to help, and they expect this government to step up to the plate and work with us,” said Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon. “These issues have been studies for years, and government decisions about what is best for the Mushkegowuk People are simply not working. The gap in services is getting wider, and more harm is being done than good. We must approach this crisis as Nation-to-Nation. We must begin moving the yardsticks forward, and we must begin with a plan that is sustainable and viable.”

NAN’s (summarized) recommendations to the Standing Committee:

  1. That Health Canada, NAN and others immediately and jointly develop a course of action to fully implement the recommendations made by the Auditor General of Canada outlined in the 2015 Spring report Access to Health Services for Remote First Nations Communities.
  2. That Health Canada acknowledge that the present policies, service delivery and funding models are failing First Nations and work collaboratively with NAN and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care on a long-term process towards solutions beginning with urgent priorities.
  3. That the Minister of Indigenous Affairs Canada (INAC) participates with NAN and Health Canada in an ongoing political oversight body to monitor and guide this process.
  4. That Health Canada, INAC and other federal departments work in collaboration with NAN and the Mushkegowuk Council to establish a Special Emergency Suicide Task Force to address the growing suicide epidemic in NAN territory.
  5. That NAN lead a collaborative process with Health Canada and the Government of Ontario that will redefine Jordan’s Principle to form a basis from which the federal government will create legislation that will compel other jurisdictions to a uniform implementation process.

“These recommendations have been developed after extensive consultation with First Nation leadership, health officials and health service delivery agencies across NAN territory and represent the best path forward for the development of immediate and long-term solutions that will have an immediate impact to improve health outcomes for our communities. These are not news ideas, but things that should have been done before these issues escalated beyond crisis level,” said John Cutfeet, Chairman of the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority.

NAN and representatives of the Sioux Lookout Area Chiefs Committee on Health declared a Health and Public Health Emergency for First Nations in the Sioux Lookout region and across NAN territory in February 2016 to address urgent and long-standing health issues caused by the inequality of health and health care services.

Note to Media: NAN will present to the Standing Committee on Thursday April 14, 2016, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Room 237-C, Centre Block. Participating will be: Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Chiefs of Ontario; Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon, Mushkegowuk Council; Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, Nishnawbe Aski Nation; Board Chair John Cutfeet, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority.

For more information please contact: Michael Heintzman, Director of Communications – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4965 or cell (807) 621-2790 or by email

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