REGINA -- In First Nations and Métis cultures, a wolf is considered a protector and the leader of the pack.

That's what makes ‘Grey Wolf Lodge’ a fitting spiritual name to direct the work being done by the Saskatchewan Health Authority's First Nations and Métis Health portfolio.

"[Medicine Man] Darrel Bellegarde actually had a vision,” Gabe Lafond, SHA’s Executive Director of First Nations and Métis Health, said. “Through a vision quest, he was able to achieve a ceremonial name that will be able to help us move forward in the direction that we need to as a first nations metis program."

Through the First Nations and Métis Health portfolio, SHA now has a traditional pathways program, which will provide traditional medicine support and services for Indigenous patients.

"We know there's a gap and that Indigenous people want and need access to their medicines and their ways of healing, and we want to create the partnership to create the space for that to happen within the SHA," said Dr. Susan Shaw, SHA’s Chief Medical Health Officer.

The traditional care won't be delivered by the SHA, however, it will provide information to patients looking to access traditional medicine and also direct them to a medicine person.

“I don't think we have had a shared understanding of what's necessary to actually create health and support all people in our province, so I'm really excited about being a small part of the launch today and the programs that we're going to build going forward,” Shaw said.

The traditional pathways program has been a focus for the SHA since the amalgamation of the province's health authorities.

“With the traditional healing program now in place, that actually signifies to our communities that we're serious and we're willing to work with our communities in meaningful way that illustrates true partnership,” Lafond said.

SHA is currently providing the traditional pathways program in Regina and will be expanding it around the province.