The Bearspaw First Nation (BFN) and Stoney Nakoda Tsuut'ina Tribal Council (SNTTC) have each been awarded $450,000 over three years through the Indigenous Patient Navigator Grant Program.

Bearspaw will be introducing a health promotion/community health worker position to provide tailored support specific to the needs of Bearspaw Eden Valley.

The SNTTC is hiring a pediatrics navigator to improve the health care experiences of the Treaty 7 members of the Bearspaw, Chiniki, Goodstoney and Tsuut'ina first nations.

The navigator grant program is intended to address the immediate challenges facing Indigenous patients, communities and organizations by providing financial support to First Nation, Métis and Inuit partners, and Indigenous-serving organizations.

It will allow organizations to help reduce barriers to accessing primary care services across multiple service providers, support patient advocacy, increase access to resources and improve care co-ordination.  

A total of $7.1 million is being provided over three years to the 18 applicants. Organization could apply for up to $450,000.

Additionally, First Nations Technical Advisory Group Inc. and Métis Nation of Alberta Medical Travel Program were awarded funding through the Indigenous Primary Health Care Innovation Fund.

Last October, Alberta Health minister Adriana LaGrange announced changes to Alberta Health intended to remove barriers faced by Indigenous peoples in accessing culturally safe primary care and building community-specific capacity to improve the circle of care and health outcomes.

“There is a significant amount of work we must do to rebuild trust with Indigenous Peoples," states LaGrange. "They face many challenges in accessing care, which has a profound impact on their health outcomes. Improving access to primary care is an important step for optimizing health. We are proud to provide funding so Indigenous communities can partner in the design and delivery of culturally safe care and improve the health of individuals, families and communities.” 

Alberta is home to about 284,500 Indigenous people, representing 6.8 per cent of Alberta’s population. From 2016 to 2021, Alberta’s Indigenous population grew at twice the rate as the province’s total population.

The majority of Indigenous peoples live in urban settings and the other 36.2 per cent reside on reserves.