U of S and James Smith Cree Nation work together to advance radiology

From left to right: vice-president operations at JSCN Medical Clinic LP Dragan Racic, Chief Robert Head of Peter Chapman, U of S College of Medicine Dean Preston Smith, Chief Wally Burns of James Smith and Chief Calvin Sanderson of Chakastapaysin. (University of Saskatchewan/Submitted)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

Two parties have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further the province’s healthcare.

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine and James Smith Cree Nation (JSCN)—located about 70 kilometres east of Prince Albert—have agreed to work together to explore four areas in radiology: creating a joint research chair, building access to services, supporting research projects and establishing training programs.

In efforts to expand radiology services, they’ve created a private startup company called JSCN Medical Clinic LP, which specializes in the field.

It’s being set up in Saskatoon and would have access to an advanced piece of MRI equipment that’s rare in Saskatchewan.

The MRI 3 Tesla has the power to give vivid images of the brain, muscles and small bones, for example, and would only be the second one in the province.

Associate vice-president of research at the U of S, Darcy Marciniuk, was at the signing on Thursday afternoon.

He said JSCN approached them as a potential partner nearly a year ago.

“It’s a lot of uncertainty, it’s new ground, but I think we’ve grown to understand, to better respect and to trust each other in this specific area,” he said, adding it took so long because they didn’t want to rush into it.

“We’re here today, we’re going to be with each other tomorrow, so it’s important that we get this right and that we both view this as a very good start in that direction,” said Marciniuk.

However, he said “You’re never as far as you want to be,” with getting equipment, developing resources, consulting and finding a research chair still needing to be done.

He emphasized the amount of respect he feels between the two groups.

“(The chiefs) have a lot of important issues that they’re dealing with, so the fact that they made time out of their day to come… signals an important, a genuine desire to work closely together to advance our common goals.”

JSCN is made up of three separate communities: James Smith, Peter Chapman and Chakastapaysin.

The three chiefs, Wally Burns of James Smith, Robert Head of Peter Chapman and Calvin Sanderson of Chakastapaysin, signed the agreement.

Each of these separate Cree nations fall on Treaty 6 territory, as does the U of S.