Indigenous-led health care partnerships in Canada

Front page of the article Indigenous-lead health care partnerships in Canada

Too many First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in Canada face alarming health inequities, subpar access to health care, and culturally discontinuous services — a legacy of the sociohistorical realities of colonialism and racism that included systematic suppression of traditional Indigenous health knowledge and healing practices.1–4 The 2015 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada underscored an urgent need for full health care rights for Indigenous Peoples, the elimination of health disparities, antiracist decolonization of the health sector, and self-determination in use of and access to traditional knowledge, therapies and healing practices. 1 Indeed, Call to Action 22 states, “We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.”1

Indigenous knowledge and healing practices endure today, despite colonial policies and continued systematic oppression. Exemplary Indigenous-led movements that centre on traditional Indigenous knowledge have become an important feature of the Canadian medical landscape, promoting cultural activities, self-determination, governance, language, medicine and wellness.5–9 With an aim to foster reconciliation efforts, we analyze unique and innovative Indigenous-led health partnerships in Canada, considering the benefits that such partnerships can hold for physicians, Indigenous communities and Canadian society more broadly.

Lindsay Allen MSc, Andrew Hatala PhD, Sabina Ijaz MD, Elder David Courchene Hon LLD, Elder Burma Bushie

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