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Indigenous health gets boost
Feds, territory invest $24.9M in project that aims to use traditional knowledge to improve treatment

Robin Grant
Northern News Services
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A new Indigenous-based health-care research project is taking root in the NWT.

NNSL photograph

Tlicho Government adviser John B. Zoe addresses the crowd who came out to last Wednesday's announcement that the federal and territorial governments will invest $24.9 million over five years for a health-care research project with the Tlicho government. The project, called Hotii ts'eeda, is rooted in Dene, Inuvialuit and Metis traditional knowledge. - Robin Grant/NNSL photo

Tlicho Government, with the help of federal and territorial partners, has been given funding for a project that supports research and training rooted in Dene, Inuvialuit and Metis traditional knowledge.

Over the next five years, the initiative will receive a $24.9-million investment - the territorial government is set to give $16.8 million, with the federal government investing $8.1 million. The project is currently underway.

On July 19 at the legislative assembly building, Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott and Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod announced the patient-oriented collaboration project, called Hotii ts'eeda.

It aims to improve patient care and indigenous peoples' health by conducting patient-oriented research and engaging patients in managing their own health, according to a news release.

Tlicho Government adviser John B. Zoe described the initiative as an opportunity to collaborate with the emerging Indigenous governments in the North.

"We know from past experience that the best information we can get from the people out in the bush is the elders and community who really feel what's happening to them or what is not happening with them and what their input might or might not be," he said. "In the end, it is really about having a say over their land and what happens on their land in the delivery of services."

Philpott said including patients in research allows medical professionals to focus on what is important and generate practical results.

"It's based on a very interesting and important way of approaching research ... from a point of view of the patients," she said.

Sitting in for Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy, McLeod called the health project the first of its kind in Canada to be hosted by an indigenous government.

Earl Nowgesic, assistant scientific director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Aboriginal Peoples' Health, called the project a "concrete action" to improve health care.

"In the Northwest Territories, the knowledge of communities, the traditional ways of healing and the teachings of elders are incredible strengths that are the core of Hotii ts'eeda," he said. "This will ensure the integration of all voices crucial to changing the practice."

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