Residents of the Island Lake region in northern Manitoba are desperate for better health care services.

On Wednesday residents from the region–about 600 kilometres north east of Winnipeg–demonstrated in front of one of the city’s hospitals, demanding better access to health care in the region’s four First Nation communities of Theresa Point, Garden Hill, Wasagamack and Red Sucker Lake.

There is one health facility in the region, but it’s overwhelmed and often inaccessible.

On Friday the area’s member of parliament delivered the demonstrators’ message in Ottawa.

“Those who gathered in Winnipeg this week come from some of the most remote communities in our country,” said Churchill—Keewatinook Aski MP Niki Ashton.

“Some of those who took part are sick or have loved ones who are fighting for their lives, and yet they took the time to find their strength and have their voices heard,” she continued. “They took a stand and have taken a stand on the behalf of many. They and I and many others are calling for the justice of the people of Island Lake.”

Ashton said Island Lake residents currently travel about 600 kilometres to Winnipeg in order to access health care services.

“Even to this day this federal government is continuing policies of colonization aimed at the First Nations, and now where is that more evident than when it comes to health care,” she said.

Ashton called on the Liberals to address the situation immediately by funding a new hospital in the region and calling an inquiry into the health care that First Nations receive.