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NH partnership with Indigenous business provides economic benefit to local First Nation

Posted Aug 1st, 2023

A group of people stand in front of the logo for the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation

The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) received a $15,000 donation from Medical, Surgical and Safety Supplies (MSS) Ltd. from profits MSS earned, in part, from a contract it has with Niagara Health to supply acute care nitrile medical gloves manufactured by MSS and PRIMED Medical Products. Seen here are (from left): MCFN Coun. Claire Sault; Shay McFadden, MSS Director, Corporate Development, Eastern Canada; Charity Beland, Niagara Health Manager, Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation; Daniel Halbauer, PRIMED Medical Products Indigenous Reconciliation Partnership Co-ordinator; MCFN Coun. Veronica King-Jamieson; MCFN Gimaa (Chief) R. Stacey LaForme; James Hiebert, MSS President; MCFN Coun. Ashley Sault; Tony DiEmanuele, Mohawk Medbuy Corp. President and CEO; MCFN Coun. Erma Ferrell; and MCFN Coun. Fawn Sault. 

A Southern Ontario First Nation has received the first in an anticipated series of donations funded by a unique partnership rooted in Niagara Health’s economic reconciliation efforts with Indigenous Peoples.

James Hiebert, who is part of the Turtle Clan, Mohawk Nation, and President of Medical, Surgical and Safety Supplies (MSS) Ltd., presented a social benefit cheque for $15,000 from Turtle Island Health and Research Society, the social enterprise arm of MSS, to the Chief and Council of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation last week.

The money comes from profits MSS, a Certified Aboriginal Business in the Northwest Territories, earned from a contract it has with Niagara Health to supply acute care nitrile medical gloves manufactured by MSS and PRIMED Medical Products, and other contracts MSS has throughout Canada. Part of MSS’s business model is to reinvest its profits in Indigenous communities as scholarships for youth, to develop business opportunities and provide greater access to healthcare through local Indigenous healthcare centres.

The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation was chosen as the recipient of the first social benefit cheque as an acknowledgement of the fact that Niagara Health’s existing facilities and the new South Niagara hospital are on Mississaugas Treaty lands (Mississaugas Treaty at Niagara, 1781).

“Indigenous people have always been about sharing and caring about one another, and moving money in this manner is the Indigenous way. Whenever you can give back to a community, it’s a very good thing,” Hiebert said during the presentation. “MSS is about giving back to the communities where we’re doing business. The profits from our new partnership with Niagara Health will be shared with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.”

The Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation is the first of 10 Indigenous communities throughout Canada to receive a social benefit cheque from MSS. The First Nation, located near Hagersville, Ont., and comprised of nearly 2,600 members, will decide how to use the funding. Hiebert said he hopes to provide social benefit contributions to the community every three to six months.

“It was very nice to receive a donation based on respect and reconciliation,” says Gimaa (Chief) R. Stacey LaForme. “We are currently expanding our health services within our First Nation and I expect this could be utilized to assist that purpose. I have spent much of my time as Gimaa (Chief) building relationships across our Mississaugas of the Credit Treaty lands and Territory and we appreciate that others hold the same mindset.”

Niagara Health was the first hospital in the world to procure Indigenous-supplied, acute care nitrile medical gloves, distributed exclusively by MSS through Mohawk Medbuy Corporation, a not-for-profit, shared services organization that provides supply chain and other services to hundreds of Canadian hospitals.

The gloves are co-branded with PRIMED’s logo alongside MSS’s Indigenous stylized bear branding, bringing a visible Indigenous presence to operating, examination, testing and treatment rooms at Niagara Health’s Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, Port Colborne and Welland sites.

The gloves are also symbolic of Niagara Health’s commitment to economic reconciliation and implementing certain calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Economic reconciliation is the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples, communities and businesses in all aspects of economic activity, nurturing their success and prosperity.

Following the federal government’s lead, Niagara Health is committed to achieving five per cent procurement from Indigenous businesses.

“Niagara Health is continuing to walk the road toward reconciliation,” says Charity Beland, Niagara Health’s Manager of Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation. “The recognition of the importance of initiating strong partnerships where the Indigenous-led organizations, businesses and Nations are able to participate and influence the growth and direction that Niagara Health is moving toward is imperative for the success and well-being of our community.”

“When partnerships work out, it’s wonderful,” Hiebert adds. “You’ve got Niagara Health, Mohawk Medbuy, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and MSS, and we all played a role to make this happen. That’s what reconciliation is about.”

Niagara Health System