History of Health Services

Pre-Transfer Period

"… Prior to 1978, there were a number of different arrangements by National Health & Welfare Canada to deliver Health care to the James Smith Band. For example in the 1950's, there was mini-hospital located in the Northern part of the Reserve staffed by two Nurses, with a Government Doctor coming in regularly. This fully equipped facility was closed by the Government in the late 1950's. After that the Band was serviced by a Health station with one Public Health Nurse. For close to twenty years, the Band did not have access to diagnostic and Medical treatment services, except those provided by MSB on an ad hoc basis.

In 1978, a Health Clinic was opened on the Reserve for a five year period, temporarily housed in Mobile trailers. A receptionist and a Records Clerk joined the Medical team, and for the first time, regular Medical and Dental Clinics were conducted on the Reserve that greatly improved access to proper diagnostic and treatment services for Band Membership. A comprehensive community Health plan for the James Smith Band was presented to MSB in 1980, which conceptualized Indian control of Indian Health Services and programs in an expanded Health Center. The Health Plan envisaged by the Band had its own Health and Environmental Legal regime and enforcement capability. As a result of the Plan, the Band received an approval from the Government, for the construction of a Health Center that was called Natahowin Center. A third CHR was added to the Health team in 1989, as well as a Clinic Assistant.

The Natahowin Center was officially opened by the Band in the fall of 1981 with the Minister of National Health & Welfare, the Right Honorable Monique Begin representing the Government of Canada. In 1985, the Band again presented a Proposal to MSB for Indian control of the Public Health Nursing Program which was not accepted, but the Band did have a role to play in the hiring of the Public Health Nurse that was placed on the Reserve. After 1983 when the Natahowin Center was opened for business, the Band Membership had better access to diagnostic and treatment services, and better Health programming and services…" The James Smith Health Pre-transfer Project was initiated in the spring of 1988. In 1991, a Needs Analysis was completed for the James Smith Health Pre-transfer Project. This assessment provided the basis for the JSCN Community Health Development Plan which was submitted in September of 1992.

Transfer Period

A five year Health Transfer Agreement was signed by James Smith Chief and Council with Health Canada on November 1, 1994. This Transfer Agreement was extended for another five years on October 1st 2001. In 1997 a new clinic was built adjoining and in conjunction with the Band Office. It was renamed the "Margaret Turner Health Center". Since then the Margaret Turner Health Center has been renovated and extended and officially re-opened in the 2011.