Health & Social Secretariat

Dene Health Mission Statement

“We, as First Nations accept full responsibility as keepers of Mother Earth to achieve the best quality of life and health for future generations based on our traditions, values, cultures and this will be achieved through the development of a health system model, research policy analysis, communication, and development of national strategies for health promotion, prevention, intervention and aftercare.”

The objectives of the Dene Nation’s Health Department is to inform and educate on health and social issues through prevention, promotion and cooperation with communities and government agencies, both territorial and federal.

Regional objectives continue to be established through the ongoing regional consultation process. This process is in accordance with regional goals and is coordinated through the Dene National Office.

The Dene Nation collaborates with the Denendeh Health Committee, Assembly of First Nations, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch Health-Northern Region and the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Department of Health and Social Services.

Coordination between regions, governments and communities is required to establish an effective integrated health model.  Community commitment along with funding commitments from governments will increase stability of programs and services and the ability to respond to health concerns.

Helpful information

Committee Members:
Chair – Diane Benwell
Gwich’in – Denise McDonald
Sahtu – Patricia Modest
Tlicho – Ted Blondin
Akaitcho – Emelie Saunders
Dehcho – Greg Nyuli
Katlodeeche – Chief Roy Fabian

The purpose of the Denendeh Health Committee is to improve the communication of health information between Health Canada, the Government of Northwest Territories – Department of Health and Social Services, Denendeh National Office, Denendeh Regions and the Dene. The formalized communication process will allow the Dene People to make responsible and informed choices when it comes to change in the delivery of health services. The Denendeh Health Committee communicates through teleconference calls and one face-to-face meetings once per year.

  • There are three First Nation graduates this year, and six next year.
  • The Truth and Reconciliation commitment is now in the Program Resource Manual.
  • All campus faculty participated in the “blanket exercise” to learn more about history of colonialism and its impact on Indigenous peoples.
  • The program is currently working with the University of Victoria to make Indigenous Peoples of Northwest Territories a mandatory course.
  • Proposed draft revisions to Mental Health Counseling Guide for the IRS Support Program.
  • First Nations Inuit Health Branch Senior Management Committee is developing an approach to address the Opiod Public Health Crisis.
  • First Nations Mental Health First Aid completed the evaluation and sent recommendations to the Mental Health Commission of Canada. We are requesting a face-to-to meeting with them as they are not agreeing with our recommendations.

The AFN has by, direction of the National First Nations technician Network, the Chiefs Committee on Health, decided to undertake a renewed campaign to demand fundamental changes to the NIHB program and focus on creating a concrete plan of action in March 2014. Input and solutions derived from the ten regional round tables will feed into a policy position document/directional concrete action plan that can be used by communities, regions, leadership and others to take action on addressing disparities associated with NIHB. The AFN contracted Kahui Tautoko Consulting Ltd (KTCL) to capture an accurate depiction of how the NIHB program is experienced in diverse First Nations communities. KTCL has completed all of the regional site visits in August 2016. The site visits in the NWT included, Fort Simpson, Hay River, Whati, Colville Lake, Lutsel’Ke  and Inuvik. KTCL developed a national report on all NIHB benefits which includes dental, vision, pharmacy, medical supplies, and medical travel. The AFN Membership for the NIHB Joint Review Steering Committee is presently reviewing the NIHB benefits from each region.

The First Nations Health Transformation Agenda is an extensive document that includes 85 recommendations for Federal, Provincial, Territories in many areas including mental wellness and addictions, cultural safety, traditional healing, health infrastructure, home and palliative care, health data, primary care, chronic disease, communicable disease, among many others. The Three themes include: Getting the Relationships Right, Meaningful Investments in First Nations Health, and Supporting First Nations Capacity. The AFN Chiefs Committee on Health approved the proposed path in advancing the transformation agenda in December. The First Nation Health Transformation Summit was held in Toronto on February 13-14th to address this Agenda document. Summit objectives included:

  • To connect decision-makers and influencers (First Nations, the provinces/territories and the federal government) in order to generate conversations/commitment on working together to overcome jurisdictional challenges towards improving health outcomes for First Nations.
  • To demonstrate success/share promising models of jurisdictional cooperation and innovation.
  • To support First Nations capacity development in health systems government.

Jordan’s Principle ensures that all First Nations children can access the health, social and educational products, services and supports they need, when they need them. The Child-First Initiative (CFI) provides funding nationally up to $382.5 Million over three years (2016-2019) to implement Jordan’s Principle. Requests can be made for individual children, or for a group of children who would all benefit from a particular service. In the NWT there have been 108 requests made through Jordan’s Principle since August 2017, where 57 have been approved, 3 were denied and the remaining requests are pending, or have been referred to other programs. Funding is available for First Nations Governments/organizations to promote Jordan’s Principle and assist applicants.

To submit a request on the behalf of a child contact or call at 613-884-2512 or the Veronica Marlowe at 867-873-4081 or Toll-Free at 1-866-511-4081 at the Dene Nation.

The FNIGC headquarters are located in Ottawa.  This is the permanent home of the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS). The centre will provide information, research, training, data collection, analysis and dissemination services to First Nations at the community, regional and national levels. The website address is