After more than two years of work and planning, the James Smith Cree Nation medical imaging clinic opened in Saskatoon on Friday.

The new clinic will provide much needed MRI, CT scan, x-ray and ultrasound services to Saskatchewan residents.

The facility will also serve as an education and research centre for medical imaging.

James Smith Chief Wally Burns said the clinic may be First Nations owned but the services it provides are for all people of the province.

“For the whole region of Saskatchewan, I think it means a lot and it signifies that a lot of good things come out of small packages,” he said. “Also, looking at it in perspective, it’s coming from a First Nation but I don’t look at it that way, I look at it as coming from the province of Saskatchewan.”

Other partners in the clinic, which is located in Saskatoon’s Market Mall, include Siemens Canada, the University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

It will employ 15 full-time and 20 part-time staff.

Burns said the partners had hoped to have the clinic fully up and running by last fall but experienced some setbacks.

“Everything was delayed because of equipment, and now COVID hits eight months ago and, you know, time wasn’t on our side but now it is.”

The facility, which is located in Saskatoon’s Market Mall, has one MRI, one CT scan and one x-ray machine.

A press release says the MRI uses new technology which allows it to adapt to the unique characteristics of each patient it scans, while producing consistent and high-quality images.

This will allow for fewer rescans and more predictable scheduling.

(PHOTO: James Smith Cree Nation Chief Wally Burns, far left. signs a memorandum of understanding for medical imaging research and education with Saskatchewan Polytechnic in October 2019. File photo.)