As the future is plotted to address the growing health issues for First Nations people in the Sioux Lookout area, participants at a recent two-day Public Health Conference hosted by Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority looked to the past for guidance and wisdom.
“Back to Moss” was a common theme during discussions at the conference. Essentially, participants talked about returning to the healthy and safe traditions originally practiced by the Anishinabe in the Sioux Lookout area. Not too long ago, moss was commonly used for a variety of purposes, particularly on babies as a diaper.
Held in Lac Seul First Nation Feb. 19-20, the gathering brought together 28 health directors and health workers to obtain information, ideas, and wisdom for a public health model for the region.
Currently, there is no public health system in place for the 31 First Nations in the Sioux Lookout area. As a result SLFNHA has been authorized by Chiefs at the 2010 Annual General Meeting to develop a culturally relevant regional public health system as envisioned in the Anishinabe Health Plan.
That process is in full swing at SLFNHA as staff with the Public Health Project begin the lengthy process to develop the model.
And it comes with some advice from speakers at the conference who shared information about public health.
It is not feasible for a community to have a comprehensive public health system. They can have elements, but a regional system would have to come under an organization like SLFNHA.
Since public health is very broad, it is up to communities to define what public health means to them and identify priorities.
It’s hard to do it alone so partnerships are important since resources are limited.
For more information about the project, please visit our Public Health page.
Last spring, Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) partnered with Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB) to create a hospital-based classroom for children, youth and adults staying at the hostel and hospital for periods of time. This unique pilot project allowed for children from kindergarten to Grade 8, and youth/adults in high school, to work on school and credits while away from home. The program is perfect for expectant mothers who wish to keep working on high school credits while having a classroom to go to right in the hospital during the months they may be in Sioux Lookout leading up to their baby’s arrival. The program ran during the spring months and closed during the summer.
Fast forward to now. The project is getting up and running again! While the official opening date isn’t quite ready to be announced, Jenny Pert-Wesley is getting things ready for the “school year.”
“I’m really excited about the program,” says Pert-Wesley, who is the teacher for the program. “I’ve been talking with all of our partners and so many people are excited too and saying YES to this idea. Everyone is so supportive of the learning environment and what’s going to happen here.”
The program is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Education. The children are not registered in the Keewatin Patricia District School Board, however the students remain registered at the school in their First Nation so their home community keeps those education dollars.
The program worked so well in the spring, it’s now expanding to include Tikanagan Child and Family Services, and to moms and kids at the women’s shelter in Sioux Lookout.
The SLMHC/KPDSB Grades K-12 classroom is very drop-in friendly and Pert-Wesley encourages any student to come check it out.
If you are interested in the program or want more information, you can email her ator call 738-0443. For guests staying at the hostel, please feel free to ask the guest services representative, Barb Peetwayway, for directions to the classroom (located near the cafeteria at the hospital).
September 21 marked the first day the Jeremiah Mckay Kabayshewekamik (hostel) made the switch to hot food delivery.
“Hot food delivery means the food will be served fresh and hot right at the hostel. This differs from the previous method, in which we reheated food,” explains Darryl Quedent, Director of Client Services.
Since the new hostel opened in 2011, management has taken steps to ensure food served to clients is not only satisfying, but also meets Canada Food Guide. The hostel food provider is Aramark, which also provides dietary services to Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre.
“We are always intent on ensuring food tastes good and meets our client dietary needs, so we anticipate this new method of delivery will mean a tastier meal,” says Quedent.