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Healthy medication use – what we can learn from Coyote’s Food Medicines

​​​​First Nations Health Authority and Doctors of BC use Indigenous Storytelling to help educate Health Care Providers

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In summer 2018, The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), in collaboration with Doctors of BC and the BC provincial government's Shared Care Committee, launched Coyote's Food Medicines, an innovative storytelling project and campaign focused on healthy medication use.  The story was created after Secwepemc Elders met in 2016 to share their thoughts and experiences of their community's use of medicines.  It is from their conversation and guiding words that the Coyote's Food Medicines story emerged. 

The resource was initially launched at the BC Elders Gathering, reaching thousands of Elders. The overall goal was to raise awareness among Elders and their supports around the issue of healthy medications use, or polypharmacy – a term used to describe when multiple medications are being taken and the benefits no longer outweigh the risks.  Without any medication review by a health care provider, the potentially negative health impacts of polypharmacy are high. 

Coyote's Food Medicines storybook can help guide important conversations about healthy medication use

Storytelling has always been a traditional way in Indigenous communities to share knowledge, wisdom and humour.  The story of Coyote, and his lessons and teachings as they relate to wise use of medicines, features the tradition of storytelling as a tool to help educate and start the conversation between First Nations people and their health care providers.  Every person has the right to know why they are taking medications, and what they are putting into their body, but for some First Nations people, they worry it may be considered rude or disrespectful to question what medications they are prescribed.  The Coyote's Food Medicines storybook was created to encourage First Nations Elders and their caregivers to ask their health care providers about the medications they are taking.

With the start of 2019, Coyote's Food Medicines is being relaunched, this time to include health care providers and prescribers, including doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and pharmacists.  The goal is to spark opportunities for health care providers to initiate conversations with First Nations communities and individuals about healthy medication use, the issue of polypharmacy, and the potential adverse impacts to health. 

The Coyote's Food Medicines storybook can also offer a way for Elders in First Nations communities to start conversations with their health care providers, and feel more comfortable asking questions about their medications. Additionally, the book can facilitate reciprocal learning, where the health care providers will gain knowledge and have the opportunity to explore potential barriers to health care from a First Nations perspective, with cultural safety and humility playing a key role.

When Coyote's Food Medicines was originally launched into communities at the BC Elders Gathering, Gina Gaspard, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Healthy Living, Chronic Disease and End of Life, and Cindy Preston, Senior Pharmacist Lead, Health Benefits Services, collaborated on an article to address the question, "How much is too much when it comes to medication?" Read their article here​.

Watch the video of the Coyote Story here:

 

Read Coyote's Food Medicines here and on the Coyote Story​ website here.

Download Coyote's Food Medicines here (PDF 11.9 MB)

To request copies of the book, contact resources@fnha.ca

Visit fnha.ca/coyotestory​​

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