Indigenous Governance in Public Health

Last updated/reviewed August 4, 2023

Our work with Indigenous partners is fundamental to our mandate. Peterborough Public Health is committed to the principles of truth and reconciliation and to acting upon the 2015 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  In addition, the new 2018 provincial requirement for all boards of health to establish relationships with Indigenous partners is part of public health’s Health Equity mandate.

PPH has a long history with both First Nations in the local area as well as the urban Indigenous community. Section 50 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act enables First Nation communities to enter into formal agreements with boards of health where the board agrees to provide health programs and services to members of the First Nation community.  Peterborough Public Health is one of the only local public health agencies in the province who have a formal agreement to provide public health services to the two local First Nation communities.  The agreement also includes that the First Nation Councils agrees to accept the responsibilities within the health unit, including contributing to cost sharing and as well as having a member of the community to sit on the board of health.

Section 50 – Health Protection & Promotion Act

Peterborough Public Health’s Journey to a Section 50 Agreement – Video

Peterborough Public Health Journey to a Section 50 Agreement

In 1967 an amendment was made to the Public Health Act stating that for public health purposes an Indian Band would be considered a township municipality and the Council of the Band would be deemed the council of the Municipality.  Where it was geographically feasible, local health services could be extended to Indian Reservations.  Due to the amendment, in 1968, the Board requested, and received, a provincial Order in Council officially recognizing the wishes of both Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations communities to receive public health services from the Board, and to participate in governance.

In 1983, the Health Protection and Promotion Act was updated which created a formal process for First Nations to engage with boards of health, giving them the same status as other “obligated municipalities” and granting them the right to appoint a First Nations member as their representative to the Board.

Before the HPPA was updated, there were informal agreements but even with the new Act, it would be still be a long time before formal agreements were created and fully implemented.  According to board of health records, the present public health service agreements date from 1995 for Curve Lake First Nation and 2007 for Hiawatha First Nation.  A representative of Curve Lake First Nation wasn’t added to the Board of Health until 1998 and it wouldn’t be until 2009 that Hiawatha First Nation appointed a representative to the Board of Health.

Hearing the Voices of Urban Indigenous People

In 2015, PPH established a First Nations Working Group, a sub-committee of the Board of Health, to discuss strengthening its relationship with Indigenous Peoples, coinciding with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action in 2015. The goal of this committee was “To deepen awareness, sensitivity and meaningful actions on issues that are of relevance and public health importance to indigenous people living within the Peterborough County-City Health Unit (PCCHU) catchment area.” Between 2016 and 2018, membership expanded to include the larger Indgengenous community.  After this expansion, the First Nations Committee was renamed the Indigenous Health Advisory Circle to represent broader representation and inclusion.

Indigenous Health Forum

Fostering Mino Bimmaadiziwn – Housing, Home and Health, October 30, 2023 – Recording
Candice Martin, Native People of Sudbury Development Corporation
Gaamominik Watts, Fleming College
Kevin Fitzmaurice, Trent University – Presentation
Steve Teekens, Na-Me-Res – Presentation