Coderre agrees to talk about aboriginal health care centre
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has told a group asking for better public health care for aboriginals to stop circulating a petition.
He told members of the group Wednesday that he has agreed to their request, and will hold consultations on opening a specialized centre for the needs of indigenous people in Montreal.
For the past seven years, indigenous advocates have dreamed of changing a former hospital on Lucien L'Allier St. into an urban aboriginal health centre.
"The indigenous community in Montreal is widespread. This would give them the opportunity to have one location for all the services," said Alana-Dawn Phillips.
Right now many Inuit and First Nations people seek support at the Native Friendship Centre and Projet Autochtone, but go to the MUHC for medical help.
Phillips says language and cultural barriers can get in the way of effective care.
"Because their language may not be English or French and to receive, for example, an Inuit person to receive more services may be difficult because they need someone to accompany them," she said.
Harvey Michele has been lobbying for the native healthcare centre. He said there are 25 to 35,000 aboriginals living in and around Montreal, many of whom need help.
"A lot of us do not have a health card, the RAMQ card which we take for granted," said Michele.
The proposed centre would offer holistic care, looking after more than just physical needs.
"In terms of health it's not just medical, it's also to deal with spiritual needs as well," said Michele.
Coderre met with Michele and other leaders on Wednesday, and agreed to discuss their project.
The Mayor added that when he runs for re-election this year he will add an advocate for indigenous people, and encourage aboriginal candidates to come forward.