Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence

  Sharing Our Stories On Promoting Health and Community Healing: An Aboriginal Women's Health Project


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The research and publication of this study were funded by the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE). The PWHCE is financially supported by the Women's Health Contribution Program, Bureau of Women's Health and Gender Analysis, Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the PWHCE or the official policy of Health Canada.

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Deiter, L. Otway

Executive Summary

This report, "Sharing Our Stories on Promoting Health and Community Healing: An Aboriginal Women's Health Project", presents a broad historical overview of Aboriginal women's health issues, a review of pertinent and current resources, and recommendations on how to address and improve the health of Aboriginal women in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The authors of the study are both First Nations women and are familiar with the many health and social issues facing Aboriginal women..

Health and health issues for Aboriginal women are complex issues. Consitutionally, the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction for "Indians". Medical Services Branch is mandated to deliver health services to First Nations people. However, for Aboriginal people who are not on federal reserve land, there are jurisdictional battles for who pays for which health care services, frequently at the cost of the health of the people.

Furthermore, the history of colonization in this country has severely affected the health and well being of Canada's indigenous people and women in particular. The imposition of European values caused Aboriginal women to lose their economic status, language, community rights, culture, and traditional roles as healers and leaders. The high incidence of family violence against Aboriginal women is seen as one of the most tragic results.


Set in the context of an historical overview, the report includes a selected literature review. The researchers also surveyed nearly 100 women, including interviews with five Elders. The analysis and report are written from an Aboriginal women's perspective and based on the reports provided by Aboriginal women through the surveys and interviews The following recommendations were developed in response to the direction provided in these interviews.


  1. That the federal, provincial and municipal governments of Canada recognize and accept an Aboriginal concept of health and healing by working towards wellness through holistic health approaches. This includes:
    • Working towards an improvement in the socio-economic and political status of Aboriginal women in Canada.
    • Recognition for the intellectual property of Aboriginal healers and their medicines.
    • Acknowledgement of the destruction of traditional First Nations, Metis and Inuit women's roles by missionaries, and government; and encouraging research to rediscover those female icons which were important within each peoples' spirituality and culture.

  2. That Aboriginal, federal, provincial and municipal governments maintain and increase funding for Aboriginal women to achieve:
    • higher education,
    • better paying employment,
    • adequate housing,
    • affordable day-care and family support services,
    All of which will contribute to improving their health and well being.

  3. That more research and funding for services be provided for mental health issues.
    • Information on positive stress relievers should be developed that target Aboriginal women, e.g. anti-smoking campaigns, exercise programs.
    • Encourage the use of traditional teachers on dealing with stress
    • Encourage women's support groups, talking circles, addiction support groups, and other avenues to provide support and help to Aboriginal women.

  4. That Aboriginal, federal, provincial and municipal governments research First Nations, Metis, and Inuit values that may assist in developing effective healthy community programming, and promote empowerment of Aboriginal women.

  5. That Aboriginal, federal, provincial and other agencies work towards increasing the funding for uninsured benefits for Aboriginal women. This includes increased funding for glasses, dentures, prescription care and mental health practitioners.

  6. That Aboriginal, federal, provincial and municipal governments acknowledge the high level of family violence within Aboriginal families and communities.
    • This acknowledgement would include further funding for community-based family violence programming;
    • That community based programming include women as full participants.

  7. That research and programming be provided to address violence against Aboriginal women. This includes:
    • Compiling, and maintaining a database of Aboriginal women victims of homicide, assaults and other types of violence.
    • Research dollars be provided to rediscover the traditional roles of First Nations', Metis and Inuit women
    • That workshops be delivered to deal with family violence within Aboriginal communities.

  8. That partnerships between Aboriginal, federal, provincial and municipal governments be developed for community-based health care delivery.
    • That health boards and hospital boards include Aboriginal women as members.
    • That employment equity programs ensure that Aboriginal women are full and equal participants in health care delivery.

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