Health Table formed to address challenges in city and Blood Tribe

A new partnership was announced at city hall on Tuesday with the creation of the Intergovernmental Health Table, a proactive step bringing together invested partners to look at key issues affecting members of the Blood Tribe and Lethbridge communities. Representatives from City Hall, the Blood Tribe and Department of Health, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and the Ministry of Seniors, Community and Social Services, will meet on a regular basis to address the health and social challenges that arise for both communities.

Co-chairing the table will be Mayor Blaine Hyggen and BTDH Vice Chair Charles Weaselhead.

“We are here to announce a health roundtable where together our communities will work on bettering the community for all,” said Hyggen. “We have been hit with some pretty tough times these past couple of years, with COVID and the addictions. Working together with this health roundtable we are looking at solutions moving forward, how we can work together and what we can do to better the community.

“We are going forward on a transparent basis with both departments,” said Weaselhead. “Our mandate is to concentrate on the health issues of the day. […] During our meetings, and hopefully listening to the community, to our Indigenous population, and to the mainstream population, we can get a better view of what the present healthcare issues are that we need to address.”

Seeing a partnership that will work with the provincial government, the table will help bring awareness to issues that remain important for residents in the city.

“For the past six or seven years in Lethbridge, this has been one of the top issues of importance for many residents in Lethbridge,” said Nathan Neudorf, co-deputy premier and MLA for Lethbridge East. “All these systems working together to come together as a team, not just one ministry but with three, […] is the significant commitment that our government is taking to really address this issue and come to solutions.”

Looking to link outreach to communities, the partnership will help with linking the city with the Blood Tribe.

“With a huge population of our Blood Tribe members who are living in the city of Lethbridge and elsewhere, comes different challenges for them,” said Weaselhead. “Whether it’s housing, healthcare, those types of things, in order to service that delivery outside of our boundaries, we need to go into a co-design partnership with the City of Lethbridge.”

The Health Table will be an important step towards addressing issues that are affecting residents of Lethbridge and the Blood Tribe.

“Responding to the addiction crisis by building a recovery-oriented system of care is one of our most important goals,” said Nicholas Milliken, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “It will take the support of entire communities to address that and that is what this Health Table is about. Bringing together all of the partners in Lethbridge who touch mental health and addiction to build a comprehensive response. The Blood Tribe and the City of Lethbridge have been important collaborators on building a comprehensive recovery-oriented system of care.”

With aligning goals, the partnership will help with tackling issues that are connected to health and addiction.

“We have learned homelessness is a complex issue that is often rooted in other challenges, mental health and addiction concerns,” said Jeremy Nixon, Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services. “Community is the answer. By working together, I am confident that a plan will be made to address homelessness in the city as well as right across the province.”

With the first official meeting taking place on the same day as the announcement, the ground work is being laid for how solutions can come about through partnership.

“The partnership is meant to help us better align ourselves and better to understand the concept of Truth and Reconciliation,” said Weaselhead. “Once you build a creative relationship you can go a long ways.”

Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald