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Racism, mistrust keep Aboriginal people from health care

Author: 
Compiled by Shari Narine
Volume: 
30
Issue: 
11
Year: 
2013

Empathy, dignity, and respect: Creating cultural safety for Aboriginal people in urban health care, a report recently released by the Health Council of Canada, highlights some of the reasons many Aboriginal people do not seek care in mainstream health care settings and describes key practices that are working towards positive change. The report is based on a series of meetings held across Canada with health care providers, many of whom were First Nations, Inuit, or Métis. Many Aboriginal people do not trust and therefore do not use mainstream health care services because they experience stereotyping and racism. “Aboriginal people often feel uncomfortable, fearful, or powerless when they try to use the health care system, and some avoid going for care even when they are sick,” said Dr. Catherine Cook, who is Métis and a councillor with the Health Council of Canada. “While these issues would be a concern for any population, it is a particular concern for Aboriginal people, who have the poorest health and shortest life expectancies of all Canadians.” Across Canada, provinces and territories are at different stages of development in cultural competency efforts, which include changes to policies, governance, education and training. The report calls for a major shift in the way health care is provided to Aboriginal people, calling for policy changes and structures and processes to be put in place to support and formalize culturally safe health care environments.

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