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Indigenous Peoples

From a health perspective, it is well documented that Indigenous Peoples, compared to the general population, are disproportionately affected by negative health outcomes

 

Available data suggests that Indigenous populations have:

  • a lower life expectancy at birth than non-Indigenous populations1
  • higher infant mortality2
  • higher rates of chronic diseases. “Most alarming is the age at which diabetes is being diagnosed and the rapid increase in prevalence among Indigenous populations.”3 “Aboriginal peoples in Canada are also more likely to die from cardiovascular diseases compared to the general population.”4
  • higher rates of infectious diseases. For example, in 2014, Indigenous populations made up 4% of the total Canadian population, but accounted for 21% of reported cases of tuberculosi5

To decrease these existing heath inequities, an understanding of the full context of Indigenous experiences of trauma and oppression over generations is needed. The National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health (NCCAH) “recognizes that colonization and colonialism cross-cut and influence all other social determinants of health of First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, families and communities. We also know that the health disparities and inequities experienced by Aboriginal peoples are rooted in racism and marginalization, dislocation, and social exclusion.”6

Social Determinants of Health

The social determinants of health for Indigenous populations have additional layers of complexity and interconnections, specifically the loss of culture and language; loss of connection to the land; racism and stigmatization; as well as feeling spiritually, emotionally and mentally disconnected from their Indigenous identity.7

 
Social Determinants of Health

Image source: First Nations Health Authority
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The Journey Together

Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

The Journey Together - Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

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Truth and Reconciliation

The Truth and Reconciliation Report (2015) identifies recommendations that are specific to many aspects of Canadian life, including health. Ontario has made a strong commitment to reconciliation, including building partnerships with Indigenous communities based on mutual respect and shared benefits. This commitment includes specific initiatives such as the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy and a long-term strategy to end violence against Indigenous women.

Locally, public health is working to further develop existing relationships in a meaningful way with neighbouring Indigenous communities and agencies to support improved health outcomes and decreased health inequities. Indigenous ways of knowing and being, including “concepts of spirituality, connectedness and reciprocity to the land and all life, self-reliance, and determination”8 are critical to influencing and improving health equity.

 
Date of creation: February 23, 2018
Last modified on: March 6, 2018
 

References

1Statistics Canada (2010). Aboriginal statistics at a glance. Ottawa ON: Statistics Canada.
2A Review of Aboriginal Infant Mortality Rates in Canada: Striking and Persistent Aboriginal/Non-Aboriginal Inequities. Retrieved from
https://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/viewFile/2370/2127
3Pathways to Improving Well-Being for Indigenous Peoples, How Living Conditions Decide Health Retrieved from
https://www.ccnsa-nccah.ca/docs/determinants/RPT-PathwaysWellBeing-Reading-Halseth-EN.pdf
4Pathways to Improving Well-Being for Indigenous Peoples, How Living Conditions Decide Health Retrieved from
https://www.ccnsa-nccah.ca/docs/determinants/RPT-PathwaysWellBeing-Reading-Halseth-EN.pdf
6National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, Social Determinants. Retrieved from
https://www.ccnsa-nccah.ca/28/Determinants.nccah
7Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal Peoples: Overview. Retrieved from
http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/47003.html
8National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, Social Determinants. Retrieved from
https://www.ccnsa-nccah.ca/28/Determinants.nccah