June 21, 2004

Aboriginal Health Services Centre Opening

Health Sciences Centre marks National Aboriginal Day With Official Opening and Open House.

The Health Sciences Centre's new Aboriginal Health Services centre is being officially opened today in conjunction with National Aboriginal Day.

The centre, which previously was in a basement suite across the street from the hospital's main complex, will now be in a central location in the HSC making it more accessible for patients, family and staff.

WRHA President and CEO, Dr. Brian Postl said it was important the profile of the Aboriginal Health Services be raised.

"It's crucial the program be visible, not only to the health care staff who make referrals to it, but also to Aboriginal patients and family who could benefit from it, but may not be aware of its existence," he said.

Healthy Living Minister Jim Rondeau said the program is key to addressing healthy living issues among the Aboriginal community.

"This initiative is part of developing a coherent Aboriginal Health Strategy that takes into account historical influences and key determinants of health," Rondeau said. "That means culturally appropriate health services can be provided," Rondeau said.

Oscar Lathlin, Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, said Aboriginal Health Services benefits more than Winnipeg's aboriginal community.

"The many patients who come from Northern Manitoba, Northwestern Ontario and even Nunavut can access translation and interpretation services as well as an Aboriginal Patient Advocate who can help then navigate a system that can be intimidating and confusing for those not familiar with it," Lathlin said.

The event is one of several planned throughout the WRHA to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

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