Traditional Wellness and Healing

Traditional W​​ellness

Traditional wellness is central to the goal of improving and transforming First Nations health in BC. Through the guidance of Traditional Healers, as well as through the shared goals of communities and the First Nations health governing bodies, traditional wellness is an important part of a healthier future.

The traditional wellness mission is to supporting First Nations in protecting, incorporating and promoting their traditional medicines and practices.

The traditional wellness vision is to improve the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing of First Nations, while strengthening the traditional health care system through a partnership between traditional healer practitioners and the Western medical system.

Traditiona​​​l Healing

Traditional healing refers to the health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs that incorporate First Nations healing and wellness. These practices include using ceremonies, plant, animal or mineral-based medicines, energetic therapies and physical or hands-on techniques.

Traditional Wellness and Healing at the FNHA

First Nations in BC have practiced traditional healing and wellness since time immemorial. In partnership with First Nations, the FNHA positions traditional wellness and healing as central to health and wellness strategic planning and programming.

As First Nations in BC lead efforts with both the provincial and federal governments in achieving health service transformative change, the acceptance of wholistic approaches to health care will enhance and strengthen the circle of care for First Nations in BC.

Traditional wellness and healing is a very important part of First Nations health that is often overlooked by the health care system. First Nations healing and wellness aims to improve the health of First Nations in BC by

  • incorporating First Nations healing and wellness
  • preventing and treating of chronic conditions
  • promoting health and wellness

There are a number of studies and reports that suggest incorporating traditional healing and wellness into health services for First Nations will improve health and wellness. Wholistic wellness is believed to lead to better long-term results, not just for the health system but also for First Nations individuals, families, communities and nations.

As First Nations assume responsibility for the management, design and delivery of community-based health and wellness services, First Nations have the space to incorporate practices and models that better meet the health and wellness perspective and priorities of the community. Therefore, it is a priority to support the incorporation of First Nations healing and wellness into health policies, programs and services and to do this in a way that is safe and relevant for First Nations in BC.

The FNHA is committed to continuing the conversation with communities to understand what is working well and what needs to be improved. This ongoing dialogue will ensure that First Nations perspectives and priorities inform efforts to redesign programs and services as well as the broader work in creating strategies and advancing health actions areas with our partners.

First Nations health and wellness is based on a holistic model of health, and is often overlooked in the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions and in the promotion of health and wellness. An integral focus of First Nations healing and wellness is through the balance and inter-relationships of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a being. This relationship is discussed further in the First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness.

First Nations Perspective on Health and Wellness

FNHA Traditional Med​icine Resources

First Nations Approaches to Traditional Medicine

Poster listing some of the main principles of traditional medicine.

First Nations Traditional Models of Wellness (Traditional Medicines and Practices): Environmental Scan in BC

First Nations Health Society 2009 environmental scan of the 123 First Nations Health Centers in BC about traditional models of wellness.

Holistic Health, Traditional Medicine and Naturopathic Medicine

Presentation by Dr. Georgia Kyba at the UBC House of Learning in November 2008. 

Traditional Wellness Strategic Framework

Outlines objectives and strategies for the promotion, incorporation and protection of traditional medicines and practices, and for further advancing this work.

Traditional Healers Gathering Report

Report on the 2012 gathering, which was attended by 131 people, including 68 traditional healers and Knowledge Keepers from across BC. The gathering was an opportunity for attendees to share their knowledge, and it provided a space for comments and suggestions on how to support traditional healers in their work and in the communities.


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