Bands Told Not to Rely on Ottawa for Health Funds

Friday, November 05, 2004 at 15:36



A Saskatoon-based policy consultant says the politics surrounding the delivery of health care to First Nations must change soon.


Stephen Lewis addressed a packed house yesterday at a health conference for First Nations within the Prince Albert/Parkland Health Region.


Lewis feels the tug-of-war relationship that has traditionally existed between Aboriginal leaders and Ottawa has been damaging for the health of residents on-reserve.


He says statistics show residents of reserves are not as healthy as those who live off-reserve, and the reasons behind that never seem to be addressed through policy.


Lewis says conditions tied to housing, nutrition and poverty can’t be alleviated forever by health dollars and change is needed soon.


Lewis says he realizes First Nations get nervous whenever the subject of treaties comes up.


He doesn’t favour scrapping them, but feels the spirit and intent of the “medicine chest” clause in the treaties is currently being misinterpreted.