Module Two Websites



In my search for information on education for Canadian Aboriginal health care providers, the Medical Journal of Australia surprised me with an article on just that very subject.  Anderson and Lavallee (2007) described new educational goals for Canadian First Nations medical students, agreed upon at the 2005 Kelowna Accord.  The deal was characterized as “historic”. In it, federal, provincial, and First Nations were adapting health education to better support First nations “cultural competencies.” These lofty statements were short on specifics but the proposal came with a $100 million pledge of support over 5 years.

On an interesting note, UBC and the Universities of Manitoba and Alberta were given credit for already adapting their curriculum to better embrace the aboriginal student. As a reminder, my posting last week of the Province newspaper article mentioned UBC’s largest First Nations graduating class in 2012.

Also, Anderson and Lavallee (2007) noted how First Nations were being invited to control their own community health programs.  In their report on the Kelowna Accord, reference to “the right of the indigenous people’s to set priorities and strategies for health programs affecting their communities” was made. I set about searching for confirmation.


This glossy, well linked site provided many helpful links to Indigenous health care.  Because the site is managed by the First Nations Technology Council of Vancouver, I assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the concise history provided was a better reflection of a First Nation’s perspective.  It expanded my concept of Aboriginal health care providers to include midwives, at least.

Here was confirmation of First Nations administering their own health care.  The collective goal of the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan (tripartite refers to federal, provincial and First Nations governments) was to ensure First Nations were “equal partners in the planning and management of health services for our people.” The Formal Consensus-based Decision Making Model first proposed by the Alaska Tribal Health Compact was recommended by First Nations in British Columbia as the model to use to facilitate equal partner status. This model will be investigated further.


Aboriginal students are invited to apply to every four year university midwife program in Canada but recently, the Kanaci Otinawawasowin Baccalaureat Program (KOBP) at the University College of the North in Manitoba opened specifically for the Aboriginal student. Introduced in 2006/07, the KOBP program has graduated 21 Aboriginal midwives as of 2010. Their program focuses on “traditional/indigenous midwifery knowlege and culturally appropriate learning pathways along with contemporary health, social and biological sciences.” One of their distinct teaching tools includes mentorship, something I need to understand more fully. What are the practicalities of a program involving mentorship? What makes that new? What makes that particularly Indigenous?


On this website, the connection between First Nations’ and their health is clearly spelled out. The connection is nothing less than “health, food, work, culture, family and community” combined.  Social determinants such as these, only recently valuted in western medicine, are integral to Aboriginal concepts of holistic health: “ancestors taught that understanding the land, leadership, sustainable use of resources and the ability to provide for family and community were essential to survival”.  As long as physicians, nurses, and midwives can be recruited, community health care will be based on these all-encompassing concepts.


The University of Saskatchewan website is a very rich resource for investigating First Nations health training.  Among the many links are Indigenous specific definitions and teaching goals. For example,  the link to “Indigenous pedagogy” offers a sensitive and thorough reflection on the topic.

I also found a paper by Dr. Alex Wilson (2008) discussing the creation of virtual Aboriginal Health Training Centres of Excellence – I’m still not certain if this concept ever made it off the ground but in the 23 pages of sound recommendations was a very helpful medicine wheel model for holistic healthcare.  Emotional, Spiritual, Physical and Mental components are shown to be equal partners to Holistic Indigenous Education.



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