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Grande Prairie doctor awarded for work in Indigenous health care

A Grande Prairie doctor is being recognized for creating positive change in the Indigenous health care system. The Canadian Medical Association has given QEII Anesthesiologist Dr. Alika Lafontaine the Sir Charles Tupper Award for Political Action.

Lafontaine credits his award to his work with the Indigenous Health Alliance Project.

“We had three first nations who reached out to myself and a small group of researchers. They were trying to answer the question, ‘why Indigenous patients were so sick.’ In the process of unpacking that question, we actually realized that the question was wrong. It was actually a question of why was everyone else in the surrounding area so healthy?”

That project and Lafontaine’s work on it led to the creation of the alliance. Its goal is to eliminate the differences in the quality of care between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous patients.

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Lafontaine first came to Grande Prairie back in 2011 and rose to become the North Zone Indigenous Health Medical Director. He says he enjoys working in a smaller city like Grande Prairie.

“I think Grande Prairie is actually a good mix of a centre that is just big enough to do the variety of cases that were able to do here but small enough that you end up knowing a lot of the people that you work with day to day.”

Lafontaine will officially receive his award in August.

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