3 ways health-care teams can support Indigenous communities

by | Jun 2, 2024 | Feature, Health and Wellness

How to support Indigenous communities is not one-size-fits-all. It requires a nuanced understanding of historical contexts, cultural sensitivities and systemic challenges.

Indigenous Peoples face disparities in health-care access, quality and outcomes, which are rooted in centuries of colonization, marginalization and unequal access to resources.

When considering ways to support Indigenous communities with health access to help pave the way for change in health-care delivery and outcomes, here are three things to consider:

  • Education and listening: An important first step is acquainting yourself with the past, present and ongoing challenges encountered by Indigenous Peoples by delving into their histories, cultures and contemporary issues. Source and review literature and articles, and seek out Indigenous perspectives to truly listen to and comprehend the depth of their experiences and challenges.
  • Collaboration: Rather than imposing solutions, true collaboration is partnering with Indigenous communities to develop initiatives that address their unique needs and priorities. Externally imposed programs undermine Indigenous communities’ autonomy and perpetuate historical patterns. Working in partnership with the community helps foster trust and cultural relevance and promotes long-lasting outcomes.
  • Cultural considerations: Effective partnerships require active listening, genuine dialogue and a willingness to incorporate Indigenous perspectives, knowledge and traditions. This acknowledges the expertise and agency of Indigenous Peoples in shaping their own futures.

Collaboration is key. For example, earlier this year CAAN Communities, Alliances & Networks and Gilead Sciences Canada partnered with Indigenous communities to develop local programs to fund health access initiatives. It’s one example of how organizations can work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to help create a more equitable and inclusive society for all by embracing collaboration and respecting Indigenous sovereignty. Learn more about this initiative at caan.ca/glows

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