Montana Medical Clinic, greenhouse open to all

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The ribbon was cut to open Montana First Nation’s Akamihk Health Services Clinic and Greenhouse last week.

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“This is important to Montana and all communities,” said Montana Chief Leonard Standingontheroad.

The opening of the clinic and greenhouse is not specific to Montana residents, Standingontheroad said. “It’s for anyone who wants to come get served or needs food. That’s the whole story.”

The clinic is an innovative Montana First Nation center with a team committed to providing optimal care to registrants and unregistered individuals, from primary care to addiction services.

George Addai, General Manager at MFN Management Inc, which oversees Montana First Nation corporations, said the clinic will offer family care and diagnostic imaging services as well as mental health services.

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“It’s open to everyone – not just community members,” he said.

They currently have one doctor on staff and are looking to recruit two more to ensure the clinic is open five days a week. In addition to in-person patient care, there is also a telehealth option for patients who cannot come to the office.

As the clinic develops, Addai said he wants to expand services to meet the physical and mental health needs of people in Montana and surrounding areas, including the Wetaskiwin and Ponoka areas.

New state-of-the-art hydroponic facility will produce over 10 types of lettuce, kale, spinach and herbs without synthetic pesticides, using 90% less water and providing a reliable supply of food health to Alberta communities.

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Pointing out that it was First Nations people who helped early settlers survive historically, Standingontheroad said that was taken away over time thanks to the Indian Ace.

“That’s what we come back to here. It’s a long process, but it’s a start and I’m glad to see some of our neighbors here to witness this event.

Openness is a step towards independence, he said.

“We need to teach our young people what our community needs, teach them these disciplines so they can come back and serve their community.”

Grand Chief George Arcand Jr. of Treaty 6 said, “I have become very aware of our situations in our communities…on the health and safety side.

Feeling that First Nations have been left behind during health issues related to the COVID pandemic, Arcand said they are working with the province on those issues.

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“I think we’ve done a really good job in our communities keeping and managing COVID, but it also gave us the strength to determine that we could do better in our communities and provide better services.”

Projects like the clinic and the greenhouse show that “when we open our minds to do new things, boundaries become limitless for our people,” he said.

“I always thought that no one but us would take care of our communities,” he said. “We will have the tools but, at the end of the day, we are the ones who will take care of our communities.”

Projects like this can provide new opportunities for First Nations communities, as well as help neighboring communities that can change mindsets across the country.

“Maybe one day we can take care of our people with our land.”

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Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam attended and said, “It’s fantastic to see the regionalization that goes with it. When the First Nations of Montana succeed, the whole region succeeds.

Gandam said the relationship Standinghontheroad has established with the town of Wetaskiwin benefits both communities.

“I think it’s really important that we have those lines of communication open to celebrate those accomplishments.”

Rhonda Laboucan, regional director general of Indigenous Services Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, said two years ago that Standingonthe road approached her to “bring services home”.

“It’s quite innovative to bring access to primary care home,” she says.

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