Indigenous Success Stories

Health (18-24)

Indigenous-led heath care partnerships

March 2, 2020

The article “Indigenous-led health care partnerships in Canada” raises four key points:

  1. Indigenous Peoples in Canada benefit from regaining access to and strengthening traditional cultural ways of life, including health and healing practices.
  2. Many Indigenous communities are working to strengthen cultural healing practices that were marred through colonization and oppressive government policies.
  3. Indigenous-led health care partnerships provide innovative models of interprofessional collaboration, be it in community-based healing lodges, remote clinics or urban hospitals.
  4. Emerging evidence suggests that Indigenous-led health service partnerships improve holistic (inclusive of mind, body, emotion and spirit) health outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, as well as access to care, prevention uptake and adherence to care plans.

The paper discusses specific Indigenous-led health practices in multiple jurisdictions. The paper concludes with specific suggestions for health care providers, managers and researchers across three dimensions:

  • Personal practice
  • In public forums and systems
  • In research
  • Indigenous healers and Elders are sometimes reluctant to build partnerships with physicians out of concern about:
    • the potential overharvesting of plant medicines,
    • disrespectful treatment,
    • cultural appropriation
    • commercialization,
    • unbalanced funding schemes,
    • tokenism and loss of autonomy.

Furthermore, from the patient’s perspective, a survey conducted in eastern Canada reported that 92% of the Indigenous respondents who use tradi¬tional medicine feared disclosing this information to health pro¬fessionals. Better understanding is needed on how to protect Indigenous medicines, healing practices and knowledge in their full integrity while developing and promoting self¬-determination in Indigenous-led health care services and systems that foster cultur¬ally safe spaces for patients, Elders and healers.