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Saint Elizabeth First Nations, Inuit & Métis program celebrates 15 years of social innovation and impact


Partnering to advance community-led approaches to health and wellbeing

MARKHAM, ON, April 20, 2015  /CNW/ - A unique program that provides virtual education at no cost to health care providers working in First Nation communities is marking 15 years of social innovation and impact.

The Saint Elizabeth First Nations, Inuit and Métis program supports community health care providers with education that is evidence-based and culturally safe. Initiated in 2000 as a grassroots partnership, the program is now active in all provinces and territories.

"We're partnering with more than 500 First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and organizations across the country," explains Shirlee Sharkey, CEO of Saint Elizabeth. "There is tremendous wisdom within communities that is shared and amplified through the program – this is something we believe and invest in as a social enterprise."

People living in First Nation communities face challenges and barriers in accessing health care services. Two-thirds of northern residents must travel more than 90 km to see a physician. Community-based health care providers also face geographical challenges in accessing training to build on their skills and knowledge.

Supporting continuing education and quality care closer to home has a positive impact on health and wellbeing for community members. To date, over 2,000 health care providers have completed the online courses offered by Saint Elizabeth, totalling more than 4,000 hours of learning annually.

The program also offers webinars, community forums and 24/7 access to a network of peers and experts, which helps to increase confidence and reduce the feeling of isolation. All content is developed in full partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to ensure it is relevant and culturally rich.

In the area of action-based research, Saint Elizabeth partnered with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs in to develop and implement a patient wait times guarantee for the prevention, treatment and care of diabetic foot ulcers. More recently, the program worked with communities across Canada to better understand and improve cancer care pathways.

After 15 years of partnership, community-based interest and demand continues to grow. The program is supported through charitable donations from the Saint Elizabeth Foundation. To learn more, visit


"The Saint Elizabeth program has helped me to support the people and communities I work with in many ways, from working with Elders and their families, promoting self-care and building relationships."  - Lyndsey Rhea, Aboriginal Patient Liaison Worker, Northern Health, BC

"The First Nations Supporting Natural Caregivers Course fills an important gap and opens up the conversation about caregiving in First Nations communities….hope that it becomes required for all health care staff across the country!"-Carie CM. Mcintosh, Disability Advocate, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, The Pas, Manitoba

About Saint Elizabeth
Saint Elizabeth is a national health care provider that has been opening the door to new possibilities and care experiences for more than a century. Recognized as Canada's largest social enterprise, we employ 8,000 people and visit 18,000 clients every day. Through the Saint Elizabeth Research Centre, our Health Career Colleges and the Saint Elizabeth Foundation, we are helping to make the future of health care brighter and stronger. Learn more or find us on Twitter at @StElizabethSEHC.