Advocating for Indigenous Patients and Bridging the Cultural Divide
June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples Day, a day for Canadians to recognize, reconcile, and celebrate the unique heritage and diverse cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Metis (FNIM) peoples. In Canada, Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) hold inherent rights and responsibilities – many of which are recognized within the Canadian Constitution - that have shaped the foundation of our nation. First celebrated in 1996, National Indigenous Peoples Day provides an opportunity to learn more about Indigenous peoples and their contributions towards the country’s development and progress.
While there is much to celebrate, this day also serves as a reminder that there is still work to be done to enhance relationships and establish partnerships with FNIM communities.
The South West Regional Cancer Program is privileged to employ an Aboriginal Patient Navigator and a Regional Aboriginal Clinical Lead who work to bridge the cultural divide between healthcare providers and their Aboriginal patients, families and communities. They liaise with and advocate for the needs of FNIM peoples and their families living in the South West region of Ontario and acts as a resource to assist in providing and promoting culturally specific and culturally appropriate cancer care. Together we have worked to develop effective relationships with First Nations communities in our region.
Cancer is not an equal opportunity disease. Some populations are at greater risk for developing cancer and suffer poorer outcomes than others. First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples are among those populations who bear a disproportionately high cancer burden. The rising burden of cancer among Aboriginal peoples has been attributed to many issues, some of which relate to the challenging circumstances of our historical attitudes and actions towards First Nations peoples.
In response to these statistics, Cancer Care Ontario in collaboration with FNIM nations and other Aboriginal partners developed an Aboriginal Cancer Strategy to address cancer issues, and create unique and diverse solutions for healing and health. Ontario’s Aboriginal Cancer Strategy envisions a day when First Nations, Inuit and Métis people no longer die prematurely from preventable and treatable cancers. Now in its third edition, the Plan provides a comprehensive roadmap to address the unique cancer care issues affecting Aboriginal communities in Ontario and outlines Cancer Care Ontario’s commitment for improving the FNIM patient journey. It attempts to bring health providers and First Nations communities together to bridge traditional and western healing practices to improve the outcomes and well being of First Nations peoples.
Learn more about Aboriginal services and support in the South West region:
Learn more about the Aboriginal Cancer Strategy: