Article Title

Discrimination Against First Nations Children with Special Healthcare Needs in Manitoba: The Case of Pinaymootang First Nation


First Nations children face systemic barriers in their access to health, education, and social services ordinarily available to other Canadian children. This article summarizes the findings of a research project initiated by, and carried out in partnership with, Pinaymootang First Nation, Manitoba between 2015 and 2017. Through this partnership, we were able to document the routine delays, denials, and disruptions of services that Pinaymootang children with special healthcare needs experienced. We further described the impact that this discrimination had on children and their caregivers. Here, we consider three specific service areas: medical services (primary and specialized), allied health services (e.g., language therapy), and additional care services (e.g., medication). Our findings are drawn from formal and informal interviews with Indigenous, provincial, and federal service providers; Indigenous leadership; and caregivers of Pinaymootang children with special healthcare needs. Based on this information, we argue that discrimination is pervasive, rooted in Canada’s colonial history, and actualized through three main instruments: administration of policies regulating the provision of services to First Nations populations living on reserve, chronic underfunding of services targeting this population, and geographic isolation (i.e., distance from a service hub). The article concludes with nine recommendations prepared by the project’s advisory committee for future policy aiming to eliminate the discrimination First Nations children with special healthcare needs experience by way of fully (and meaningfully) implementing Jordan’s Principle in Canada.


We are indebted to all the members of the Pinaymootang project advisory board and to the families who shared their experiences with us. In particular, we would like to thank Amanda Meawasige (First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba), who facilitated this partnership; Gwen Traverse (Health Director, Pinaymootang Health Centre), who initiated collaboration; and Lucyna Lach (School of Social Work, McGill University), and Eric Burnet, who played a crucial role in the elaboration of the original report on which this article is based.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


This paper summarizes the main findings of a research project completed in 2017 and conducted in partnership with Pinaymootang First Nation. The full report can be downloaded from

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