Aboriginal Health Systems in Canada: Nine Case Studies
Laurel Lemchuk-Favel M.H.A. FAVCOM
Richard Jock, B.A., M.Ed. National Aboriginal Health Organization
This paper investigates Aboriginal health systems in Canada, in urban and rural First Nations communities, Inuit communities and Métis Settlements. A summary of the primary strengths and challenges of Aboriginally-controlled health systems is presented. Strengths include holism, synergy of western and traditional health philosophies, focus on primary care, collaboration with provincial services, integrated health service delivery, and administrative reform. Aside from the challenge of health status, Aboriginal health systems must contend with small community size, remoteness, lack of human resources including Aboriginal health professionals, a growing and aging population, inadequacy of funding accompanied with non-sustainability of the system, and jurisdictional barriers. Through nine case studies, successful approaches are presented to providing effective, responsive and culturally-appropriate community health services. These case studies underscore the diversity in Aboriginal health systems necessary to accommodate vast differences in cultural expectations, health service needs, jurisdictional complexity, and geographic location.