A huge milestone was marked this week by the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA).
The 20th-anniversary celebration is part of a two-day conference this week at the Wildlife Federation Building north of Prince Albert. Medical Health Officer Doctor Nnamdi Ndubuka said one of the biggest challenges they face in terms of service delivery is meeting the diverse needs of the 33 communities they serve.
"We do our best and we strive to show we maintain the principles of equity, making sure of the four partners, we don't take sides but we deliver services equally," he said.
NITHA involves a partnership involving Prince Albert Grand Council, Meadow Lake Tribal Council, Lac La Ronge Indian Band, and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. Ndubuka, who has been with the health authority for five years, said one of his personal goals moving forward is providing more services to the communities they serve.
"I'd also like us to actually to move towards a kind of governance that grants us good collaborative opportunities to be all-encompassing. Not just when dealing with the second level (provincial government) but also to provide more supports within the communities where our efforts are needed," he said.
Over the course of the conference, the staff and dignitaries will hear about the accomplishments the NITHA has made in terms of addressing high HIV rates, as well as advancements in education, and promoting healthier lifestyles. Lac La Ronge Indian Band Chief Tammy Cook-Searson said she is very proud of the partnership they have built.
"We all represent northern Saskatchewan and we all have unique issues but we also have common issues together, and we are able to come together and partner together," she said.
One of the initiatives by NIHA in the coming months will be a brand new wellness treatment recovery centre in La Ronge. Cook-Searson said their focus at the beginning will be youth, with the ultimate goal of curbing the high suicides among youths in Northern Saskatchewan
"We're planning on having six intakes a year for eight-week programs. The first intake we are hoping will be the youth from 12 to 17 years old," she said.
There has been no firm timeline set yet for construction. Cook-Searson said the Lac La Ronge Indian Band has set aside $2 million towards the project and will fundraise another $1.6 million.
"We are asking from the federal government $15.4 million and we are hoping the province will kick in at least $2.5 million," she said.
Editor's Note: This story was updated at 9:08 a.m. on September 14, 2018 to correct a typo.
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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