U of L partners with Blood Tribe to expand health service delivery

The Blood Tribe Department of Health and the University of Lethbridge are partnering to expand the capacity and delivery of health services on the Blood Reserve.

The Blood Tribe and U of L want to build a sustainable model that will enable provincial health mandates to be provided on the Blood Reserve. This includes immediate access to maternal and surgical health services as well as emergency care.

The partners share a vision of creating opportunities for education, research, and data collection, along with developing governance modelling and other professional training for the Blood Tribe Department of Health, according to a U of L press release.

“This is a huge honour to establish this collaboration with the University of Lethbridge. We feel the sincerity from the U of L in continuing to support our nation in building a stronger tomorrow for our members in relation to everyone’s health and well-being,” said Derrick Fox, chief executive officer, Blood Tribe Dept. of Health. “We are continuing the legacy of our ancestors, which is to ensure our members can share with everyone the gift of caring. Our historical leaders ensured in our treaty the right to adequate health care. As the Blood Tribe Department of Health Inc. grows, we want to ensure we continue to build the capacity of our workforce and create a strong foundation to serve our members. With the support and partnership of the University, we are continuing the vision of our ancestors.”

The Blood Tribe want to prioritize Blackfoot Ways of Knowing in relation to health and healing, and to significantly expand their capacity to access high-quality health care and services. They also expect to improve education and training pathways for K-12 students, making the transition into health-related university programs easier. The partnership intends to optimize the success of Indigenous learners and develop work-related learning opportunities within the Blood Tribe community. The U of L can also offer support by expanding health research and innovation driven directly by the self-determined interests of the Blood Tribe, the press release stated.

“Access to quality health care is a fundamental necessity for community health and well-being, and through this relationship we’re looking to provide support in creating a model that is informed and driven by the needs of the Blackfoot community,” U of L president and vice-chancellor, Mike Mahon said. “It’s also imperative this model is sustainable so that as the community grows and changes, the continuity of the health-care system is a foundational element that allows the community to thrive.”

Cal Braid, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Lethbridge Herald