Vitalité Health Network committed to improving mental health services for the Mi’kmaq population

Bathurst, April 25, 2019 - The Mi’kmaq communities of Eel Ground, Pabineau, Metepenagiag, Esgenoôpetitj and Ugpi’Ganjig, the Rising Sun Treatment Centre Inc. in Eel Ground, Vitalité Health Network and Horizon Health Network signed a memorandum of understanding on March 21, 2019 during a ceremony held at the Riverside Entertainment Center Inc. in Miramichi.

Under this agreement, the two health networks commit to maintain community mental health and addiction services offered to First Nations and to improve access to these services. Projects and initiatives in relation to this agreement will be coordinated by the Mawlugutineg Partnership Steering Committee. Each signatory organization will sit on the committee.

“On behalf of Vitalité Health Network’s staff and Leadership Team, I am pleased to stress the importance of the privileged relationships that we have with the Indigenous communities,” stated the Network's President and CEO, Gilles Lanteigne. “We are proud of the partnerships established over the past few years that enable us to better understand the cultural diversity and health care needs of First Nations.”

Several initiatives have been implemented in the past few years to that effect.

  • The New Brunswick Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Centre of Excellence developed and implemented a unique service delivery model for First Nations. This model, called “Dreamcatcher”, has been recognized as a best practice by 15 Indigenous communities in the province.
  • A First Nation Family Room was inaugurated at Addictions Services in Campbellton. The room was set up thanks to the collaboration of the Listuguj and Eel River Bar First Nations to give Indigenous clients a place that meets their needs, where they can get together and meditate.
  • The “Braiding First Nations” training program has been offered to all Network staff and physicians since 2015. This learning plan is intended to allow the staff to acquire skills, knowledge and an openness toward improving cultural competencies.
  • In October 2017, the Network hired a First Nations Regional Access Coordinator. Her role namely consists in ensuring improved access to mental health care, addiction services and primary health care for First Nations. She also ensures the integration of traditional healing practices in the health care system and the improvement of the staff’s cultural knowledge.

“Signing this agreement confirms Vitalité Health Network’s commitment to provide Indigenous people with services that are better adapted to their culture, heritage and language,” added Gilles Lanteigne.

In the picture, left to right: Dean Vicaire, Director of Health in Ugpi’ganjig (Eel River Bar); Jean Daigle, VP Community Services (Horizon Health Network); Chief Avery Paul from Esgenoôpetitj (Burnt Church); Chief George Ginnish from Natuaganeg (Eel Ground); Chief David Peter Paul from Oinpegitjoig (Pabineau); Gilles Lanteigne, President and CEO (Vitalité Health Network); Regional Chief Roger Augustine from Natuaganeg (Eel Ground) and Director of Health; and David Peter Paul from Metepenagiag (Red Bank).