Working together to improve cancer services for Aboriginal peoples

Cancer Care Ontario unites with Nishnawbe Aski Nation

TORONTO, Aug. 6, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, representatives from Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) signed a relationship protocol with  Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN).  The agreement was signed at the XXXIII Keewaywin Conference in Thunder Bay in the traditional territory of Fort William First Nation.

Relationship protocols are a key priority of CCO's Aboriginal Cancer Strategy II (ACS II), and represent a commitment to work together to improve cancer services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis in communities throughout Ontario.

This protocol will enable CCO and NAN to identify and address common concerns and interests in order to enhance the quality of health of Aboriginal peoples and communities through partnership. The protocol sets a new course for a collaborative relationship between CCO and NAN to improve cancer programming and service delivery ensuring those who do get cancer live longer and better lives.

NAN represents 49 First Nation communities in Northern Ontario with an approximate membership of 45,000 on and off-reserve.  CCO aims to work together with NAN and its members, to address issues and advance strategic priorities and initiatives of the current and future Aboriginal Cancer Strategies.


  • Cancer incidence is increasing among the First Nations, Inuit and Métis population and their cancer survival rates are worse than for other Ontarians.
  • This is the fourth protocol CCO has signed.  Previous agreements were signed with the Anishinabek Nation, Grand Council Treaty #3 and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.
  • The ACS II has six strategic priorities: building productive relationships, research and surveillance, prevention, screening, supportive care and education.

"This agreement is a way for our organization to strengthen the relationships we already have within the First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.  We want to work in partnership to develop a healthcare system that is centred on the patient and takes into account the unique needs of Aboriginal peoples."
Michael Sherar, President and CEO of CCO

"In the past, Aboriginal peoples were not engaged in the development of cancer services.  To improve these services we want to work with the community to ensure cancer care respects the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs of the individual, family and community, and that's why we have signed this protocol with Nishnawbe Aski Nation."
Alethea Kewayosh, Director, Aboriginal Cancer Control Unit, CCO 

"Our First Nations are experiencing high rates of cancer and face many challenges including early diagnosis and access to related services due to remoteness and a multi-jurisdictional health care system. Through this partnership it is our hope that NAN and Cancer Care Ontario will begin to create effective planning for the delivery of cancer services across NAN territory."
Grand Chief Harvey Yesno , Nishnawbe Aski Nation

"First Nations Inuit and Métis peoples in the North face great challenges when it comes to accessing cancer services.  The North West Regional Cancer Centre is a key partner in the delivery of care, so I'm pleased to see that Cancer Care Ontario is formalizing its relationship with NAN, as this will allow us to continue our work of improving care for the Aboriginal community."
Mark Henderson, Regional Vice-President, North West Regional Cancer Program

Cancer Care Ontario – an Ontario government agency – drives quality and continuous improvement in disease prevention and screening, the delivery of care and the patient experience, for cancer, chronic kidney disease and access to care for key health services. Known for its innovation and results-driven approaches, Cancer Care Ontario leads multi-year system planning, contracts for services with hospitals and providers, develops and deploys information systems, establishes guidelines and standards and tracks performance targets to ensure system-wide improvements in cancer, chronic kidney disease and access to care.

SOURCE: Cancer Care Ontario

For further information: Cancer Care Ontario, Tori Gass, Phone: 1-855-460-2646, Email:; Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Michael Heintzman, Phone: 807-621-2790, Email:,



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