INDIGENOUS HEALTH IN INDIGENOUS HANDS
As a coalition for HCV elimination, we begin this work in the spirit of truth and reconciliation, recognizing the critical importance of cultural safety and acknowledging the harms of colonialism, including from within Ontario’s health system. Indigenous-specific recommendations were developed with guidance and wisdom from an Ontario working group, consisting of an Indigenous Elder, Indigenous healthcare providers and Indigenous community members, as well as a pan-Canadian, Indigenous-led initiative for HCV elimination being led by Waniska, an Indigenous research centre on HCV, HIV and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections.
The strength and wisdom of Indigenous peoples are key to the elimination of HCV in Ontario. Historical and present-day colonialism and trauma have resulted in significant health and social inequities including substance use and HCV among First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada. Today, ongoing discrimination, stigma and racism create significant barriers for people to access life-saving health services. Despite this, Indigenous culture, community and self-determination are creating resilience and strength in enabling Indigenous peoples to address HCV.
Provincial HCV strategies need to meet the calls to action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including funding and supporting programs that are Indigenous led and informed by Indigenous knowledge, as well as increasing cultural competency for non-Indigenous providers.
Wholistic well-being is important in First Nation, Inuit and Métis understandings of health, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual elements.28 Indigenous healing and well-being strategies can aim to reconnect people to culture and incorporate Indigenous knowledge and practices that extend beyond Western concepts of disease.
Summary of recommendations
Support Indigenous-led, whole-person care that prioritizes involvement of Indigenous Elders, healers and community members, particularly in rural Indigenous communities. Ensure trauma-informed, culturally safe care can be delivered in mainstream health settings, including hiring of Indigenous staff and adequate training for non-Indigenous providers.
To see the full list of recommendations in this section, read the full report.