New revolutionary clinic for Indigenous community opens in Montreal

A first of its kind health-care clinic in Montreal has opened its doors. Native Montreal’s Family Clinic aims to provide culturally safe services to the Indigenous community.It takes a holistic approach, looking at the patients’ medical and social needs.

Gracia Kasoki Katahwa, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough mayor and mayor responsible for the reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, used to be a nurse. “I used to work in hospitals, and although the care that we give there is really important, I really think that the key to keep Montrealers healthy, it really happens outside of the hospital.”

The clinic trains outside doctors and nurses to better service Indigenous people. This helps rebuild trust between the healthcare system and the community.

“After all the decades of negligence that has happened to our people, the racism,” says Native Montreal executive director Philippe Meilleur, “well of course a lot of us, do not want to access this service, we are afraid.”

It also subverts Quebec’s health-care system by allowing people from all over the city to receive services at the clinic. The project had to go through a bureaucratic nightmare to achieve this. Meilleur hopes that Native Montreal’s process has paved the way to simplify things for other organizations in the future. “What I encourage our government to work on, and maybe with a new approach, we’ll be able to streamline this, so every single clinic is able to offer the same quality of care,” he says.

Patients at the clinic can spend over one hour with a doctor. The clinic also employs “navigators,” who follow patients throughout their medical processes, ensure external specialists are culturally trained, and even accompany patients to appointments outside the clinic.

Health Minister Christian Dubé says “this navigator principle is a good example of my vision of customer service, or patient service, that we need to have all across our health system.”

Native Montreal is proud of its achievement. “Just like the Haudenosaunee people showed how to do democracy in the right way, well, now we’re showing how to do health care in the right way,” says Meilleur.

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