The Memorandum of Understanding, known to the parties as a Relationship Agreement, supports work to improve health outcomes and services for Siksika Nation members.

Under the agreement, Siksika Nation and Alberta Health will work together to understand, address, and prevent inequities in health services, policies and programs for Siksika Nation members.

The MOU forges a strong relationship and partnership model between Alberta Health and Siksika Nation that will give the Nation increased control and access to quality health services, and an opportunity for government to explore innovative health services with a First Nation partner.

The MOU is the first agreement in Alberta to include the use of the Blackfoot language. The agreement also acknowledges Siksika Nation Elders’ Guiding Principles, seeks to eliminate racism, and bring about positive and transformative change in health care for Siksika Nation.

The agreement includes commitments to:

    • Pursue a lasting and cooperative relationship;
    • Acknowledge that the status quo is not acceptable;
    • Commit to bringing about positive and transformative change in healthcare and socioeconomic outcomes for Siksika;
    • Reduce jurisdictional uncertainty;
    • Address social and economic determinants of health;
    • Eliminate systemic racism within the healthcare system in Alberta, where it exists, and ensure that Siksika members are provided culturally safe healthcare services.

Naming Ceremony

On behalf of Siksika Nation, Elder Clement Leather gifted Minister Tyler Shandro with a Blackfoot name: Ksiistsikomipi’kssii (pronounced: KSIS-TSII-KO-MII-PIIK-SI), meaning Thunderbird.

“Around this time next month is when we hear first thunder,” said Elder Clement Leather. “This is when our spiritual people start preparing themselves for ceremony; first thunder is like a wake up call for people to get ready for what’s to come.”

For the Blackfoot people, a Naming Ceremony is of great significance.

Siksika Councilor, Kent Ayoungman provided context: “Our people have a strong kinship with the whole of our surroundings, with creation. In today’s ceremony, blessings are going to be asked for by the Elder; he is going to call on this special kinship to honour you with a name today. For our people this is very important, it is one of the highest honours a person can receive. Given your work alongside our people here in Siksika, this is why we have chosen to give you a Blackfoot name today.”

Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro, said he felt honoured to be gifted with his new Blackfoot Name.

“It’s an amazing honour,” said Minister Shandro. “I didn’t know this was going to be happening today. I don’t have any words to describe it, but it is an incredible honour that I can’t put words to.”

Quotes Regarding Relationship Agreement Signing

“Alberta’s government is deeply committed to upholding the expectation that Alberta’s health care system treats all patients with dignity and respect. By creating meaningful relationships and listening to our Indigenous partners, I am confident we can work collaboratively with Siksika Nation to ensure community members can access culturally appropriate health services where and when they need them, both on and off reserve.” ~ Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“A tremendous strength of Siksika Nation is its extensive and effective range of health services. This Relationship Agreement with Alberta Health will further empower Siksika Nation to deliver comprehensive programming and services that are holistic, community-based, and put the health and wellness needs of Siksikawa first. Today’s signing represents an important step forward in Siksika Nation’s relationship with Alberta Health as we endeavour together towards equitable health outcomes.” ~ Nioksskaistamik, Chief Ouray Crowfoot, Siksika Nation

“At all times, and particularly throughout the pandemic over the past year, Siksika has worked hard to make sure our people are taken care of, and also to take care of our neighbours. This has been a real priority for Siksika Nation: to be intentional about creating relationships that are of mutual benefit. This agreement we are signing today is one such example.” ~ Nioksskaistamik, Chief Ouray Crowfoot, Siksika Nation

Quick Facts

    • The MOU establishes a process for ongoing assessment of Siksika Nation health needs, issues, and identifies realistic activities to resolve them. This includes:
      • Reviewing existing programs, policies, and services and measuring current demand against capacity;
      • Developing action plans, which could include health care infrastructure, programs, human resources and sustainability needs; and
      • Determining how to use available resources to achieve targeted health outcomes.
    • The MOU will last for five years, after which it will be re-evaluated by all parties.
    • Health-care funding for First Nations is provided by federal government.

Siksika Nation and Alberta Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the Piiksapi Memorial Arbour on Siksika Nation. This MOU aims to improve health outcomes and services for Siksika Nation members. (photos courtesy of Siksika Health Services’ Communications Team)

Alberta Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro, receives a Blackfoot name Ksiistsikomipi’kssii (pronounced: KSIS-TSII-KO-MII-PIIK-SI), meaning Thunderbird from Siksika Elder, Clement Leather. (photos courtesy of Siksika Health Services’ Communications Team)

Nioksskaistamik, Chief Ouray Crowfoot of Siksika Nation looks on as Alberta Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro provides remarks on behalf of the Province of Alberta. (photos courtesy of Siksika Health Services’ Communications Team)