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Leaders from First Nations, municipalities and the Metis are moving forward. They're hoping to pull together on a new health care system that's more responsive to local needs.

After yesterday's signing ceremony at the roundhouse in Rat Portage, Treaty 3 Grand Chief Francis Kavanaugh said it was time.

"We all need good health care services at some point in time," he said. "We all need to be healthy, in order to move forward with our agendas in the territories."

Leaders in the Kenora area are hoping to work with the provincial and federal government on a new hospital building. However, they stressed it was part of an overall reform, which would better meet the needs of patients.

"It's gone full circle," said Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield, noting his ancestors worked with indigenous people generations ago, in an effort to learn about natural medicines.

"It's kind of unique to be here in a roundhouse, and do what we did today, moving forward on a health care system that we all come back together as one nation, you know to create this all-nations health facility. It's amazing some of the people that are here today. Even the song about walking together as one today. Amazing experience," he said.

(Additional photos courtesy of Anneke Gillis)

agreementThe text of yesterday's health care agreement.For more than a year now, there's been a push towards creating a new hospital building in the Kenora area. It's meant to be part of a reformed health care system, which would include First Nations and Metis people.

For Kenora MP Bob Nault, it may be a bit of a light at the end of a dark tunnel, as he works with communities and youth at risk.

"It makes me think of the last number of days and weeks and months. I have been dealing with communities up north. They've been struggling with suicides of their young people. This is the opportunity for us to create an all-nations health care system unique to the north," he said.

Mayor Jerry O'Leary represented Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, while Liz Boucha represented the Kenora Metis Council.

For more information:

Grand chief, mayors uniting to tackle health care crisis

All-Nations Hospital in the long-term plans

Kenora's health care advocates push for improvements

Ontario NDP leader concerned with hospital overcrowding and ER wait times

Province says heath care wait times best in Canada

Doctor recruitment moving forward in the Kenora area

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