Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin Inc. (KIM) was established to work towards a new health system that will better respond to the needs of northern First Nations people in Manitoba. This new system will be developed through speaking directly to healthcare experts and communities and negotiating with systems so that services can be tailored to meet the needs of each First Nation and northern First Nations as a collective.
The community members of the northern Manitoba First Nations are the foundation of this new and historic health care system. KIM is governed by a three-part structure led by First Nations and is inclusive of 23 political leaders appointed by each of 6 caucuses and a 5 to 11-member board of directors with preference in selection to persons with experience in the health sector.
KIM supports health and wellness services for 23 First Nation communities in northern Manitoba with a focus on equitable care, addressing racism in the health care system, responsiveness to emerging needs, and filling gaps in the health care system. This is accomplished through advocacy, collaboration, and integration with the First Nation communities, and federal/ provincial partners.
KIM is working towards an agreement in principle with the federal and provincial governments to take on the design and delivery of certain aspects of the health care system in the north. The agreement in principle will be followed by a legally binding framework agreement which will formalize a new arrangement for transforming healthcare and the transfer of some of the functions of FNIHB MB on behalf of 23 northern First Nations. KIM will continue to influence change within Manitoba’s provincial health care system and its regional health authorities, as a new First Nations led health entity modeled on other regional entities such as the BC First Nations Health Authority and the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority in Ontario.
The timeframe for these agreements is from now to the end of March 2024, extending into the years beyond for the more detailed implementation agreements.
Change is coming…
In 2018, the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Chiefs Task Force was established with the goal of developing a plan to assume control over First Nations health services in northern Manitoba. This effort was a response to concerns that remote First Nation communities were not being treated as equals to other Manitobans in the health care system. Several problems were identified by the Chiefs Task Force including:
- Insufficient decision-making power or power to influence change in the health systems
- Gaps in health services compared to other Manitobans
- Government policies that create hardships and vulnerabilities for northern First Nation patients particularly for those that must travel to receive care
- Systemic racism
- Lack of health care professionals (nurses, physicians, specialists) at the community-level
- Limited access to required diagnostic services
- Inadequate or inoperable diagnostic equipment at the community-level
- Crumbling infrastructure in the communities and region, including nursing stations with inadequate space and/or hospitals that have not had upgrades for decades
In response, Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin (translated from Cree means Northern Peoples’ Wellness) was established in December 2019 to address these and other emerging issues.
As We Grow…
As we grow, Keewatinohk Inniniw Minoayawin continues to evolve. Our caucuses within our governance structure may grow to include other caucuses, as will KIM’s services over time. KIM currently offers the following:
- Jordan’s Principle (pediatric care and clinical health psychology)
- Harm Reduction
In the future, KIM aims to develop more services that will be created as a response to the needs of the First Nation communities in northern Manitoba.
KIM’s Logo is meant to convey:
- The uniqueness of each First Nation and health sovereignty, through the three distinct medicine bags. Each First Nation should have the ability to exercise choice as to what to include for health and wellness services in their Nation’s “medicine bag” – including the choice to access traditional and western medicines.
- The three-part inclusive and accountable governance structure – the Keewatinohk Inniniw Okimowin Council of First Nations elected leaders, the 6 First Nations caucuses, and the Board of Directors.
- Continuity of care without gaps – with a single string that joins the three medicine bags.
- A sense of home and belonging on our lands – the northern lights, waterways, and the trees.
- The organization overall as a welcoming place, with ownership by northern First Nations people and a unifying connection to it.