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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Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 24 November 2016


Dr. Jane Philpott, Canada's Minister of Health
See also Aboriginal health search filter | Finding health information for British Columbians Bc flag.png | Indigenization | Mapping the literature of Aboriginal health

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.

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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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