Coast Salish Territory, Vancouver, BC – The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has edited a two-part guest edition of the International Journal of Indigenous Health featuring groundbreaking initiatives with a unique Indigenous approach lens to share Indigenous traditional knowledge while applying scientific techniques to the benefit of all Indigenous Peoples.
A total of 39 peer-reviewed papers were accepted by guest editors Dr. Evan Adams, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Indigenous Services Canada, Dr. Ted Mala, Alaska Native, former Alaskan Secretary of Health and Sonia Isaac Mann, FNHA’s Vice President of Programs and Services. The journal is hosted by the Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto.
The guest edition is called “Health Systems Innovation: Privileging Indigenous Knowledge, Ensuring Respectful Care, and Ending Racism toward Indigenous Peoples in Service Delivery,” and submissions were received from within British Columbia, across Canada, and globally. The papers include research, promising practices, and Indigenous Knowledge.
The first issue, titled “Honouring the Sacred Fire: Ending Systemic Racism toward Indigenous Peoples,” encompasses themes of cultural safety, humility, and ending racism toward Indigenous people in the health system. Indigenous and allied voices share evidence of ongoing harms resulting from anti-Indigenous racism, offer lessons learned from emerging promising practices, and reflect on the good relationships that are possible when Indigenous rights and self-determination are respected.
"This is an invaluable contribution to the growing knowledge base for Indigenous health and wellness. We are seeing constant evolutions and improvements as researchers and practitioners increasingly integrate a culturally educated lens into their process," says Sonia Isaac-Mann, guest co-editor.
The second issue, titled “Wisdom of the Elders: Honouring Spiritual Laws in Indigenous Knowledge,” focuses on Indigenous health innovations that reflect Indigenous perspectives; programs rooted in Indigenous knowledge, culture, and land; and Indigenous health leadership. While these articles are often written by Indigenous scholars sharing knowledge with other Indigenous readers, the mainstream health system has much to learn about culturally safe health system transformation from this dialogue.
“Colonization brushed aside much of our ancient ancestral knowledge around wellness and wellbeing that is being brought back into the light by projects such as this one for the benefit of all,” said Dr. Ted Mala, guest editor.
There are many topics covered in these 39 papers, across two editions, and some include cultural safety and anti-racism training for health providers, Indigenous intimate partner violence toward men, and a promising practice for a culturally adapted, trauma-informed yoga program for Indigenous adolescent girls. Recommendations are shared for improving culturally safe care for Nuu-chah-nulth Elders as well as for immediate government action to end the forced and coerced sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada.
"There are many who are creating new knowledge in the area of improving health outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, and this research will help us frame our thoughts and plan actions as we seek to redress centuries of abuse and build back our collective wellness," says Dr. Evan Adams, guest co-editor.
There is also research that describes results from an evaluation of an Indigenous harm reduction training program, and Cowichan Tribes describes a collaborative, first-ever in-person research ethics review process that took place in their territory. Researchers also provide insights on how criminalization of HIV shapes the experiences of Indigenous women living with HIV.
Together, these papers offer ideas and models for transforming health systems and sharing how health care can be more culturally safe. In the coming weeks and months, FNHA will be hosting events with partners, community members and authors to ensure this knowledge is put into practice.