May 7, 2009

Province Appoints First Nations, Métis Representatives to WRHA Board

Province Doubling Support For Aboriginal Medical Student Scholarship: Oswald

The province is appointing four new First Nations and Métis directors to the board of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) to share their insight and professional expertise while supporting the region's commitment to diverse representation, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today.

"I'm pleased to appoint four exceptional people to the board of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority," said Oswald. "These individuals bring a proven record of leadership in health care and other important issues that directly affect First Nations and Métis people in our province."

The new board members were selected in consultation with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Manitoba Métis Federation.

The minister announced that Irene Linklater, Marie-Rose Spence, Janesca Kydd and Kris Frederickson have joined the WRHA board.

"Having a board that is representative of our community - one that reflects and gives voice to the needs and concerns of our patient and client population - is a huge priority of the Winnipeg health region," said Dr. Brian Postl, WRHA president and CEO. "We are very pleased to welcome these new members and look forward to their contributions to our deliberations and decision-making processes."

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) has identified health care as a top priority for its members and supports the increasing number of First Nations people taking a leadership role in this area.

"It is essential to the health of our people that First Nations are involved in every level of the health-care process," said AMC Grand Chief Ron Evans. "At AMC, we work to ensure that First Nations are represented everywhere from the grassroots level through our patient advocate, to health-care workers through our Aboriginal Health Human Resources Initiative, to political advocates working on boards like this appointment to the WRHA."

Better representation of Métis and First Nations people at every level creates a system that is more respectful, understanding and inclusive of all people that work and are served by the health-care system, Oswald said.

"We are pleased and encouraged by the minister's decision to appoint these four Aboriginal individuals and in particular one of our Métis citizens, Mr. Kris Frederickson, to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority board," said David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Métis Federation. "This positive step will provide an important voice at the decision-making level to help ensure a culturally sensitive approach towards service delivery both for the Métis and all Manitobans."

The minister also said today the province will move forward this year on expanding its Aboriginal Medical School Scholarship program.

As announced in the provincial budget, the scholarship will double to $84,000 this year to support up to 10 Aboriginal students who want to become doctors. It provides $7,000 for each of the three years of the undergraduate medical program.

Students receiving the Aboriginal Medical Student Scholarship commit to a return-of-service agreement to practise medicine in Manitoba for six months in return for each $7,000 scholarship they receive.

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The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority acknowledges that it provides health services in facilities located in Treaty One and Treaty Five territories, the homelands of the Métis Nation and the original lands of the Inuit people. The WRHA respects and acknowledges harms and mistakes, and we dedicate ourselves to collaborate in partnership with First Nation, Métis and Inuit people in the spirit of reconciliation.
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