Aboriginal health

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People with aboriginal ancestry inhabit large areas of Canada; areas in brown have North American Indian plural; in magenta, Inuit plurality
Source: 2011 Canadian Census
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  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, August 2018


Dr. Jane Philpott, Canada's Minister of Indigenous Services
See also Aboriginal health search filter | Finding health information for British Columbians Bc flag.png | Indigenization | Indigenous Health Hub (CFLA-FCAB Indigenous Matters Committee)

Aboriginal health is a term that refers to the overall health and well-being of Canada's Aboriginal and First Nations' peoples. Aboriginal peoples are disproportionately affected by several social and economic factors that have led to a lower overall health status than most Canadians. On average, compared to the general population, Aboriginal people live seven fewer years than the general population, experience higher infant mortality, and suffer from a range of common diseases such as diabetes and HIV/AIDs more than other groups. The attainment and promotion of Aboriginal health benchmarks are thought to be crucial in improving the health status of those living in Canada's Aboriginal and First Nations' communities.

In the Constitution Act of 1982, the term “Aboriginal” refers to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. (See also Statistics Canada. Aboriginal ancestry of person, definition adopted 2009.). Across the country, Aboriginal health programs are being developed to help Aboriginal peoples lead healthier, longer lives and to prevent chronic and contagious diseases from taking root in communities. Educational programs are critical in the two-way understanding required to meet the health and wellness needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Some of the culturally-sensitive initiatives and education programs needed are listed below.

Truth & Reconciliation (TRC): access to Indigenous knowledges and their cultural materials, 2017

  • Bufton M. Reconciliation paths: CFLA-FCAB TRC report. Open Shelf. May 1st, 2017
Of the 93 calls to action contained in the final TRC report, only Call 69 refers directly to libraries: Library and Archives Canada must respect and respond to the inalienable right of Indigenous peoples to know the truth of the residential school experience and legacy. Members of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations-Canadian Federation of Library Associations / Fédération canadienne des associations de bibliothèques (CFLA-FCAB) recognize, however, that all libraries, archives and cultural memory institutions in Canada must participate in reconciliation efforts. And, on April 24, 2017, the CFLA-FCAB TRC committee released its initial report that includes a set of 10 recommendations to support and guide these efforts.
  • Access to Indigenous knowledges and their cultural materials depends on decolonizing libraries & cultural memory institutions and their services: Report
The Truth and Reconciliation Committee of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations (CFLA-FCAB) released a report in early 2017 outlining a path forward for respecting Indigenous culture and increasing access to traditional Indigenous knowledge. The 77-page report, which is the product of months of research and evaluation, makes ten recommendations to enhance experiences and opportunities for Indigenous peoples and researchers in Canada by decolonizing libraries and archives and their practices. “The Truth and Reconciliation Committee was the first committee established by CFLA-FCAB when the federation was founded,” said Peter Bailey, Chair of CFLA-FCAB. “Canada’s library community is strongly motivated to support universal access. We aim to provide services that create opportunities for everyone while respecting all cultures and promoting cultural products.”

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Subject headings

The Library of Congress suggests the use of "Indians of North America" to refer to indigenous people in Canada, United States and Mexico. However, not all indigenous people are Indians. In Canada, there are other indigenous groups such as the Inuit (Eskimos), Aleuts and Metis, for example. In Canada, subject headings in library catalogues should address at least three native groups: 1) Inuit, 2) nations or tribal groups traditionally referred to as Indians or First Nations, and the 3) Metis, Canadians of mixed Indian and white ancestry. These three groups are typically assigned the following headings in library catalogues:

  • Inuit--Canada. Works on the native people of the Canadian Arctic who call themselves Inuit.
  • Indians of North America--Canada. Works discussing collectively Canadian Indians or First Nations. (Works limited to specific tribes or Indian peoples are entered under appropriate heading, e.g. Cree Indians.)
  • Metis. Works on Canadians of mixed Indian and white ancestry.

In 1992, the Canadian Subject Headings introduced Native peoples--Canada as a heading in order to address the three Canadian groups of native or aboriginal ancestry if discussed together. The heading Native peoples--Canada is the preferred heading for First nations--Canada, Aboriginal peoples--Canada, and Indigenous peoples--Canada. For insight into classification systems for this group, see http://xwi7xwa.library.ubc.ca/files/2011/09/deer.pdf

Indigenous Librarianship


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