Spirit Healthcare Group of Companies

The Spirit Healthcare Group of Companies (SHG) is designed to create an economic platform to assist in the transformation and control of Indigenous healthcare by establishing an Indigenous presence in the healthcare industry. “Our people have been users of the healthcare industry in Canada, but rarely the owners/decision-makers,” says Spirit Healthcare Group (SHG’s) CEO Heather Berthelette. “That’s what we’re trying to change.” Spirit Healthcare Group was formed in 2016 and is affiliated with Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba. “We created a business model that reflects Indigenous values and teachings. We realized that true success means a blend of our culture, our core beliefs, and teachings, with economically disciplined, well-structured, well-run companies,” says Berthelette. Today, the Spirit Healthcare Group (SHG) includes Spirit Pharmaceuticals, SpiritRx Services, First Canadian Health Management, and SpiritRx Solutions. The products and services offered by these companies range from: ● Full pharmacy services, including customized services to over 26 remote Indigenous communities across two provinces and one territory. ● The manufacture and distribution of medical devices, targeting diabetes care and management. ● Indigenous healthcare claims adjudication services across much of Canada- operated out of Toronto. ● Enhancement of employee benefit programs, that offer culturally appropriate options. SHG’s business model is designed to direct a portion of profits to meet the specific needs of the communities. Through our efforts, we have directed over 1 million to date to the health departments of the communities we serve. That’s money that has traditionally been kept out of Indigenous healthcare through government control and big Pharma’s profiteering. Berthelette believes these practices are doing very little to change the prevalence of chronic diseases among Indigenous Peoples. I N D I G E N O M I C S 1 0 T O W A T C H L I S T J U N E 2 0 1 9 | I N D I G E N O M I C S I N S T I T U T E ‘ S “Economic reconciliation is not a passive exercise. It requires Industry and Government to actively look for ways to engage with Indigenous businesses, ” according to Berthelette. H E A L T H C A R E Upending the status quo to repatriate some of the profits made off of First Nations healthcare has not been easy. “We have had our difficulties,” says Berthelette. “Nobody likes us showing up, a little company with a humble plan, against big organizations who have been at it for many years and have deep pockets. So how do you get to the table beside them, when selling a product or responding to RFP to deliver services?” The answer, says Berthelette, is a combination of perseverance, support from other Indigenous organizations, and “shouting our cause to everybody and making it clear that economic reconciliation means you don’t shut us out of those revenue streams that we can use to enhance our own conditions, that we can use to grow our own economies.” But for Indigenous businesses just getting a seat at the table is not enough. “Reconciliation also means helping us make up for the last 150 years. 150 years of inequity where non-Indigenous businesses have been able to develop and experience success and failure and learn while we were shut out.” According to Berthelette, economic reconciliation is a long process that means more than just a set aside here or a procurement contract there. Economic reconciliation is not a passive exercise. It requires Industry and Government to actively look for ways to engage with Indigenous businesses. Ultimately, achieving parity will lead not just to a strong Indigenous economy, but a strong Canadian economy. Berthelette’s message to others seeking to build the Indigenous economy is one of solidarity and authenticity. “Success has always depended on us supporting each other. A lot of times we get pushed into believing that we should be competing with one another, but that just slows our progress down.” In addition to unity, Berthelette believes the path to success also involves staying true to Indigenous values. “There’s great success in holding on to our cultural teachings. We are proof that you can create a great marriage between cultural teachings and economic success. That is what Indigenomics stands for.” Berthelette hopes that everyone understands that “Indigenous companies can be well-run, wellstructured, competitive businesses, and we don’t need to be 51 percent owners and 0 percent operators. We have the capacity of doing it all. It’s time for us to be bigger participants in the Canadian economy.”