Tribal Chief Mark Arcand of the Saskatoon Tribal Council believes strong community based relationships between paramedics and First Nations is important to provide the best service for Indigenous people.

Arcand was a speaker Wednesday morning at the annual conference of the Paramedic Service Chiefs of Saskatchewan where he spoke on relationship building.

“I just want to make sure I can help enhance that relationship between paramedics and First Nations people that goes on in our communities,” said Arcand when speaking with reporters about his part of the conference.

Arcand spoke highly of the work paramedics are already doing and hopes to help foster a collaborative effort to build stronger relationships between First Nation communities and the EMS that serve them.

“It is important to honour them and lift them up today because they are committed to help people and I think we have to recognize that while also trying to enhance how we can find better response times… maybe they have ideas… and how do we work together to make that happen.”

The Tribal Chief also spoke on some of the difficulties EMS face when responding to First Nation communities including a lack of road signs and difficulty navigating a community you are unfamiliar with.

However, Arcand feels the best way to build relationships is for EMS to both be at the table with Indigenous leaders and be present in the communities they serve.

“A lot of times (EMS) are coming into calls that are reactionary,” said Arcand. “So getting to know the community more and being a part of events is really going to help relationships and help make a difference in people’s lives.”

Arcand also spoke on how First Nations communities providing their own EMS service will always be better, however, he says some communities do not have the infrastructure to support that and will need to continue to rely on nearby communities for service.

When asked about an example of good relationship building he spoke of a paramedic from Blaine Lake that served his home community of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation when he was growing up.

“He knew my grandfather… he knew this family and that family and it was the type of relationship we were talking about,” said Arcand. “So when we talk about the challenges of First Nations people he understood what we went through and wanted to make sure he was there for the community.”

PHOTO: STC Chief Mark Arcand speaks with media outside the STC Wellness Centre in December 2021.  Photo by Joel Willick)