Recently the First Nations Métis Inuit Committee went to the first ever Taking Care Together: Aging into Well-Being, A Métis Health Conference. They invited a member to join them and were eager to provide their insight as Health Care Professionals, as well as gain insight into how we can do better as a Health Care System.  These are their reports:


Kiishpin kwaayesh pishkaapamishooyaahk naawut kinwaysh ka pimaatishinaan.

If we take care of ourselves in a good way, we’ll live a long life. But how do we do that? A life that is rich in Métis culture… with adequate housing, healthcare, dental care and long-term care.

What can I bring to the table? What’s my value? I heard from many attending this conference that Culture is important… it would be nice to have a Métis, First Nation Health Care Facility that offers cultural ceremony and traditional living. I personally would love to work in such a facility.

As a First Nations person myself, I’m still learning my culture. Although I’m just a part of the healthcare team in the Long-Term Care Facility I work at, it would be nice to share and learn traditional living with the residents.

This was a very informative conference with many great speakers and I sure enjoyed the dancing and music as well. Thank you.


I just want to say THANK YOU, so much, for allowing me the opportunity to attend the Taking Care Together Conference put on by Métis Nation - Saskatchewan on Feb 2 & 3, 2024 in Saskatoon.

When I joined this committee, I stated that I joined in order to learn more about my heritage and the culture which I was denied as a child. This conference was a fundamental steppingstone in achieving these goals. As a nurse I am someone who observes, I observe my patients for assessments, I observe families and their interactions, much of my job is in observation. In that room of around 400 people, the respect for the elders was so clearly visible it was astounding. Throughout the conference, I was able to learn through the lectures and workshops, but perhaps the most powerful thing I saw was the comradery and respect for each other. It was truly heartwarming and contagious, and exemplified the type of interactions we all deserve. During each break throughout the two days, the included music and dancing was awe inspiring, invoking in me, such a strong desire for connection. The smell of smudging throughout the pavilion made me feel warm and cozy. There was also an abundance of delicious food too many times throughout the two days! All of these sensory experiences curated in me an even stronger desire to connect with culture.

As for the content of the conference:

Being a healthcare professional, an LPN, including a background of long-term care, I could appreciate that most of the issues exist within the whole population of the province, they are just ten-fold for First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples. The increases are due to location of residence, racism, cost, as well as many others.

Karen Diver, Director of Business Development for the Native American Advancement Initiatives, was one of the keynote speakers and she was inspiring! She has also served as the Faculty Fellow for Inclusive Excellence for Native American Affairs at the College of St Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota and she was the Special Assistant to President Obama for Native American Affairs along with many other prestigious roles. She spoke at length about the bureaucracy involved between multiple programs, for example programs for veterans, and programs for Métis, but individuals are not able to take advantage of both programs. This makes things difficult, and at time confusing, for members who are not being able to access different programs at the same time. She identified the fact that these barriers exist often due to a lack of communication between programs. She talked about how unjust some of the denials to programs were. She hoped that Canada would be able to do better.

The Breakout session I attended on the first day, discussed how Long-Term Care and Palliative Services need to include the culture. The people deserve to be able to practice their culture and rituals to make them feel whole at any time in their life, and even more significantly towards the end of their life. One of the practices we discussed was having the ability to smudge. Within the session there was acknowledgement that changes are slowly staring to accommodate these needs; but there continues to be a need for workers to be aware of these needs.

Following supper banquet on the first day, there were games and prizes. The evening was full of fiddle music, jigging and dancing, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed observing.

The second day was equally as good, starting with Jessica Dunkley as keynote speaker. She is the first deaf Métis physician in Canada. She spoke of the hurdles having a disability caused her and the many obstacles that other Indigenous peoples with disabilities have accessing schooling and programs. She also spoke of the stamina she needed to overcome these hurdles. Her ability to overcome, and her exemplary example helped to start removing some barriers. In subsequent years, this allowed another young, deaf doctor to follow in her footsteps. She also addressed how academic and societies’ thought processes on disabilities need to pivot and be open to solutions instead of denial.

There was a panel discussion about how Métis 2SLGBTQIA+ peoples sometimes hide their identity as they get older because of the discrimination towards them. How they suffer losing their identity because they are scared of discrimination, not only as Métis, but as 2SLGBTQIA+ people.

The last breakout session I attended was about Cancer Care and the discussion was almost identical as my first breakout session. There needs to be more awareness about our culture and traditions. Additionally, there needs to be better access to facilitation of these accessibility and more widespread acceptance of them.

All in all, this conference was amazing and would definitely recommend anyone to attend. I was quite amazed the percentage of elders that attended. It was inspiring to know that they also wanted a voice and definitely inspiring to see how respected their voices are.  

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