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Winter 2012
Centre News
Setting the Context
Children are Sacred Gifts
Social Determinants
Health, Place, and Creativity
Looking to the Future
Recent Events
Contact Us


NCCAH Website



National Collaborating Centres for Public Health

National Collaborating Centres for Public Health  

The NCCAH is one of six National Collaborating Centres (NCCs) working together to promote and improve the use of scientific research and other knowledge to strengthen public health practices and policies in Canada. We identify knowledge gaps, foster networks and translate existing knowledge to produce and exchange relevant, accessible, and evidence-informed products with practitioners, policy makers and researchers.    


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2013 Best Start Annual Conference, Toronto, ON
February 6 - 8, 2013 
This year's comprehensive program addresses preconception through to child health. You will find sessions relevant to your work and areas of interest. You will acquire the latest information, learn innovative strategies and programs, and meet new colleagues.
Conference website
National Aboriginal Physical Activity Conference, Vancouver, BC
February 21 - 22, 2013
You are invited to join us in sharing best practices, and to join other leaders who see the value in promoting physical activity in our Aboriginal communities.
Conference website

First Nations Conference on Sustainable Buildings and Communities, Edmonton, AB   

February 27 - 28, 2013  

The second annual First Nations Conference on Sustainable Buildings and Communities will bring together a diverse group of participants to share their stories about the vision, planning, design and operations of sustainable buildings and community facilities for Canada's First Nations.

Conference website 

First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health Research Symposium, Winnipeg, MB
February 28 - March 1, 2013

The Manitoba NEAHR presents the 2nd annual First Nations, Metis and Inuit Health Research Symposium, a forum to highlight the health research priorities and activities within Manitoba's Indigenous communties.
Conference website
Gathering Our Voices: 2012 Provincial Aboriginal Youth Conference, Penticton, BC
March 19 - 22, 2013
The Conference theme will focus on Health and the event will have multiple streams of training, activities and information for Aboriginal youth over the four days.
Conference website
2013 National Mental Health Conference, Winnipeg, MB
March 20 - 21, 2013 
The conference will address themes related to mental health challenges and the criminal justice system, Aboriginal communities, the education system and society today.
Conference website


This report explores the influence of sex (i.e. biological characteristics) and gender (i.e. socio-cultural factors) on public health and the health status of Canadians. It includes a section on supporting Aboriginal fathers.   



The First Nations and Inuit Health Branch Strategic Plan: A Shared Path to Improved Health  

This first Strategic Plan for First Nations and Inuit Health outlines how the department plans to move forward in fulfilling its core mandate of providing health services, while strengthening its focus with key partners to advance mutual priorities for improved health.   



BC Provincial Health Officer's Special Report: The Health and Well-being of the Aboriginal Population Interim Update  

This report provides an interim update on progress made to close the gaps in health between First Nations and other British Columbians, in accordance with targets and indicators set out in the Transformative Change Accord and Tripartite First Nations Health Plan. 



Aboriginal Languages in Canada, 2011 Census   

This summary from Statistics Canada provides an overview of data collected in the 2011 census on Aboriginal languages in Canada.  



Spirit Magazine  

This quarterly publication from the First Nations Health Authority of BC will focus on the many positives taking place in BC First Nations Health transformation.


Bridging the Gap: The importance of Aboriginal culture in treatment and healing  

A Research Snapshot from the Evidence Exchange Network for Mental Health and Addictions point to a gap between Aboriginal and Western approaches to Aboriginal mental health.   


The Journal of the Canadian Paediatric Society 

See these additional articles  from the August/September 2012 edition.  


Harnessing Aboriginal fathers' potential to contribute to their children's well-being  


Jordan's Principle: Canada's broken promise to First Nations children?  












Hitchhiking Study 

Have you ever hitchhiked? You could participate in this UNBC research project. For more information and the online survey...  


Aboriginal Youth Survey
My Life, My Wellbeing: Creating a Place of Belonging (participants entered into a draw to win one of two iPads).
For more information and the online survey...
Sharing knowledge in a changing landscape   

Welcome to our winter newsletter updating you on the activities of the NCCAH and our new resources. We are happy to share with you several new reports and fact sheets on diverse topics from Aboriginal research designs to the connection between art and wellness. In addition to developing these publications, the NCCAH has participated in local, national and international conferences, sharing our knowledge and building networks in Aboriginal public health.


This year we have seen significant changes to the landscape of Aboriginal health research and programming in Canada. Federal funding cuts to Aboriginal health organizations, and the health departments within Aboriginal organizations, has resulted in the unprecedented closure of the National Aboriginal Health Organization and substantial reduction of health programming within the Native Women's Association of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and others (Read more...)


In this time of changing federal priorities and funding decisions, strong collaborations and solid evidence for Aboriginal health policy and programing are needed more than ever. The NCCAH continues to forge these collaborations and disseminate accessible and timely information on the issues that matter to communities. With a renewed focus on communicating efficiently and meaningfully with everyone involved in Aboriginal health across the country, we have increased our social media presence, improved our website, and continue to ensure our resources are of the highest quality - useful and readily accessible to the broadest possible audience.  


As the holidays draws near, all of us at the NCCAH wish you and your loved ones a safe and joy-filled season.  




Dr. Margo Greenwood, Academic Leader

National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health


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Centre News 


paintbrushNew Staff Welcomed  

The NCCAH welcomed several new staff in the past months. We are very pleased to have Patricia Makokis, Deborah Keahey, Nicole Lindsay, and Hilary McGregor join the NCCAH team as Research Associates. Together along with existing staff, they contribute to the in-house research, writing and project support needed to coordinate the production of NCCAH materials. The Centre also welcomed Denise Godeau as a Communications Officer, bringing print and media design talent to our team.


Visit our Staff page... 


Advisory Committee Accomplishments  

The work of the NCCAH is guided and informed by an Advisory Committee of experts and representatives from diverse Aboriginal communities, public health professions, national organizations, and academia. We are honoured to have such accomplished members as Dr. Evan Adams on our Advisory Committee, who was appointed Deputy Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia with responsibility for Aboriginal health in April of this year. In this role, he supports the work of the Provincial Health Officer, reports on the health of Aboriginal people in BC, and supports the development and operations of the First Nations Health Authority.


Dr. Charlotte Reading, also on the NCCAH Advisory Committee, was recently appointed to a one-year term as Interim Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Health Research. Dr. Reading is an Associate Professor with the University of Victoria's new School of Public Health and Social Policy and has decades of experience working in areas of health inequities and the social determinants of Aboriginal health, human sexuality, Aboriginal women's health, and HIV/AIDS. Dr. Reading is co-author of one of NCCAH's most popular documents, Health inequities and the social determinants of Aboriginal peoples' health.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Evans and Dr. Reading on their recent appointments.

Visit our Advisory Committee page...  


NCCAH and Michael Smith Foundation partner on a scholar award in the north for Dr. Sarah de Leeuw  

The NCCAH is very proud to announce their inaugural partnership with the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR) on the scholar award granted to Dr. Sarah de Leeuw in health, creative arts and northern communities. The first ever MSFHR scholar to be based in northern BC, Dr. de Leeuw is an Assistant Professor in the Northern Medical Program at the University of Northern British Columbia and a Research Associate with the NCCAH. Her research and knowledge translation agenda address health inequalities lived by people in northern BC and by Indigenous peoples, especially as compared to people in urban areas in the south of the province. She will examine how the creative arts and humanities can improve health inequities and attend to social determinants of health, particularly as they manifest in specific geographies.  


Read more... 


Annual Summer Institute hosted by the NCCAH 

This year, the NCCAH organized and hosted the annual National Collaborating Centre's Summer Institute, Advancing Health Equity, Building on Experience, in Kelowna, BC in May 15-16. The event was an opportunity to explore the role of experience in public health evidence and decision-making, and to identify strategies and activities to address health equity. The six National Collaborating Centres for Public Health welcomed over 100 participants to a unique knowledge exchange opportunity. Through rich discussions with their audiences, the Centres are able to identify the needs of diverse public health actors and develop the appropriate products and tools as to better respond to them.


Read more... 


How we connect and share with you 

We have been working to enhance our website. Check out the new publications database with improved search functions, and the Twitter feed and events calendar located on the home page.

Connect with us and stay up-to-date on what's new in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis public health:

Learn more about NCCAH activities and resources through our updated brochure and resources booklet:


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Setting the context

What constitutes valid or credible research?

A new NCCAH report, A systematic review of Aboriginal and Western research designs: Assessing cross-validation to explore compatibility and convergence, reviewed studies that compared the validity of Western and Aboriginal research designs. Western notions of validity and credibility in research methods typically inform decisions about what projects get funding and what types of results are valued. The objective of this systematic review is to compare Western research designs and Aboriginal research designs to assess the cross-validation of these methods. This report supports ongoing work to forge new directions in research based on engagement, justice, fairness, and empowerment, to ensure that there are equal opportunities and recognition of Aboriginal research.

Read more... 

Download the report... 


The health of Aboriginal people residing in urban areas 

First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada are increasingly urbanized, with more than half now living in urban centres. Despite this growing trend, the health status of Aboriginal peoples residing in urban areas is not well known. A new NCCAH report examines Canada's demographically and culturally diverse urban Aboriginal population, with specific reference to the determinants of health, health outcomes, the provision of health services, and key considerations for policy and program development and practice.


 Download the report...  


State of knowledge of Aboriginal health + annotated bibliography

The goal of this report is to provide a high-level summary of what is currently known about and being done to improve the health of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada. It includes an overview of literature and data pertaining to the health issues faced by Aboriginal peoples, an examination of these issues from the perspective of social determinants of health, and summaries of current health programs and initiatives for these populations offered by federal, provincial, and territorial governments.


Download the report... 


An annotated bibliography accompanies this report and comprises annotations of the literature collected and used as the basis for the discussions on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis health issues contained in Chapter 1 of the report. The literature reviewed was published between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2009, and includes both peer and non-peer reviewed publications in the areas of: maternal, fetal and infant health; child health; communicable diseases; chronic diseases; childhood abuse/neglect; mental health and wellness; unintentional injuries and disability; environmental health; and food security and nutrition.


Download the annotated bibliography... 


Métis women and disease

This fact sheet summarizes data from the 2006 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) on Métis women and disease. Prevalence, treatment, screening behaviours, and preventive measures are discussed that relate to cancer (breast and cervical), cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases such as arthritis/rheumatism, high blood pressure, asthma, and stomach problems. More research is needed to better understand the factors impacting Métis women's health and their self-rated health.


Read more... 

Download the fact sheet... 


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Children are sacred gifts

Honouring our children as our future

Many Aboriginal families and communities regard children as "sacred gifts from the spirit world," as author Dr. Janet Smylie reminds us in a new NCCAH factsheet, Our Babies, Our Future: Aboriginal birth outcomes in British Columbia. This factsheet and another by the same author titled Honouring our Children: Aboriginal children's health in British Columbia, focus on aspects of Aboriginal child health within the province and how infant and child health reflects the health and well-being of communities. The first fact sheet focuses on different measures of birth outcomes, such as rates of infant mortality and preterm births, and birth weights, comparing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations. The second fact sheet covers various child health topics including access to health care, dental health, obesity and nutrition, activity, medical conditions, school attendance and performance, and family/emotions/behavior.


Read more... 

Download Our Babies, Our Future 

Download Honouring our Children 


The sacred space of womanhood: Mothering across the generations

Hosted by the NCCAH, this two-day gathering on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis mothering and womanhood took place in Ottawa, Ontario on January 24-25th 2012 with support from the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch and the Public Health Agency of Canada. The gathering drew over 160 participants from coast to coast to coast, representing more than five generations and the perspectives of numerous communities, leaders, and professions.


This event was the third of an envisioned four part series, begun in 2009 with a gathering focused on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and child rearing (Messages from the Heart), followed by a gathering on Aboriginal father involvement (...with Dad). All gatherings in this series are dedicated to translating and exchanging Indigenous knowledges and to linking the wellness of Aboriginal families to the health and well-being of Aboriginal communities and populations.


Proceedings and a documentary DVD of The Sacred Space of Womanhood: Mothering across the Generations event will be available soon!


Read more... 

Background paper... 


Healing winds: Aboriginal child and youth health in Canada

"Healing winds are beginning to blow across the landscape of the Canadian health care system, and particularly Aboriginal communities and nations," say editorial authors in the August/September edition of  The Journal of the Canadian Paediatric Society. This edition highlights issues of importance in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis child and youth health, including determinants of health, the development of child health curriculum, and specific primary prevention and treatment topics such as unintentional injuries, suicide, inhalant abuse, respiratory disease, and long-term management of asthma.  


One of the articles, Social determinants of health and the future well-being of Aboriginal children in Canada, is co-authored by the NCCAH's Dr. Margo Greenwood and Dr. Sarah de Leeuw. Aboriginal children's well-being is vital to the health and success of our future nations. Addressing persistent and current First Nations, Inuit, and Métis health inequities requires considering both the contexts in which disparities exist and innovative and culturally appropriate means of rectifying those inequities. The article contextualizes Aboriginal children's health disparities, considers 'determinants' of health as opposed to biomedical explanations of ill health, and concludes with ways to intervene in health inequities.


Read the article... 


Another article, Development of a curriculum on the health of Aboriginal children in Canada, details the process of development and dissemination of medical school curriculum on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children's health. The curriculum will provide much needed information on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children's health for paediatric residents and will go beyond health statistics to teach residents the context of Aboriginal child and youth health in Canada in a holistic manner. The project resulted from a December 2005 summit on the health of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and youth and was developed in partnership with Aboriginal organizations. The NCCAH provided funding for the development, delivery, and evaluation of the curriculum.


Read the article... 


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Factors contributing to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples' health

Social and cultural determinants  
Public health and environmental health professionals, researchers, policy-makers, academics, and students from across the country and around the world met in Edmonton, Alberta June 11-14 for the 2012 Annual Conference of the Canadian Public Health Association: Creating and sustaining healthy environments. The NCCAH was there to share our resources and to strengthen public health networks.


Dr. Margo Greenwood, Academic Leader of the NCCAH, moderated a plenary session on the cultural determinants of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis health with presenters Dr. Evan Adams, Deputy Provincial Health Officer for Aboriginal Health, Office of the Provincial Health Officer, British Columbia Ministry of Health, and Dr. Charlotte Reading, Associate Professor, University of Victoria. These expert panelists explored the social and cultural determinants of Aboriginal health and well-being, discussing how the social and cultural aspects of our environment, both on- and off-reserve, impact the health of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples over their life course, and the role of public health in this context. Panelists identified the harmful factors of social exclusion and discrimination for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada; the protective factors, including social capital and social supports, and traditional cultural beliefs and practices; and strategies to improve the health and well-being of Aboriginal peoples.


Join the NCCAH at the 2013 CPHA Conference June 9-12 in Ottawa, ON.


Challenging hidden assumptions: Colonial norms as determinants of Aboriginal mental health

This new NCCAH report outlines how colonial practices such as the residential school system and government banning of ceremonies inflicted a "soul wound," or intergenerational trauma caused by the experience of systematic violence, oppression, and widespread grief, on Aboriginal peoples. It demonstrates how historical and ongoing colonialism have negatively impacted Aboriginal peoples' mental health, but suggests that "[h]umility, respect, a willingness to question the status quo, and an openness to learning have the potential to create better well-being for us all."


Read more... 

Download the report... 


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The meeting places of health and creativity

Special edition - LAKE: A Journal of Arts and Environment 

The NCCAH joined forces with the University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus) to publish a unique edition of LAKE: A Journal of Arts and Environment. This exciting new issue highlights the connection between Indigenous peoples, health, and place.


"This edition injects the question of health and Indigeneity into the equation of art and environment," says guest editor Dr. Sarah de Leeuw, a Research Associate with the NCCAH. She states, "There is a solid evidence base that creative expression and art can lead to good health. Certainly for Indigenous people, a strong sense of cultural resiliency and identity rooted in place is integral to health - and creative and artistic expression is a vital way to express that relationship."


Read more... 

Partial content is available online...
Contact us to request a complimentary copy of this special edition...


Art and wellness: The importance of art for Aboriginal Peoples' health and healing 

This NCCAH fact sheet details the ways in which art, and more broadly, creative processes, can be and are being used to address the root causes of ill-health, the experience of disease, clinical symptoms, and the ways and means through which Aboriginal peoples interact with health care systems. Addressing the vast health inequalities that exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada requires solutions that are as complex as the problems themselves.


Download the fact sheet... 


Traditional plant knowledge - Quebec's First Nations Garden  

The NCCAH presents a story and slideshow on a unique First Nations Garden and the role it is playing in traditional plant knowledge. Located within the Montreal Botanical Gardens, it is the only one of its kind in North America. Home to landscapes integral to Quebec's hunting and trapping cultures of the north and to its more agricultural societies in the south, the garden plays a unique role in education, research, and relationship building. We invite you to read the story and view the slideshow of the people, the place, and the many ways the First Nations Garden is contributing to Aboriginal peoples' health.   


Read more...       


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Looking to the future - Emerging priorities

Aboriginal vision health
The Vision Institute, in partnership with the NCCAH and the Canadian Association of Optometrists, has released three new vision health brochures as part of its ongoing campaign to raise awareness about vision health. These accessible, culturally relevant brochures on diabetes, cataracts, and glaucoma provide information for each vision condition including causes, risk factors, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, prevention strategies, treatment, and follow-up. The brochures are available in English, French, Cree, and Ojibwe, with an Inuktitut translation coming soon.


Read more... 

Download the brochures...  


Making the connection between ecology and health 

Dr. Margo Greenwood recently presented as part of a plenary panel on Perspectives from Indigenous, Tribal and Ethnic Communities at the 2012 Eco Health Conference in Kunming, China. The theme of the conference, organized by the International Association for Ecology and Health, was Sustaining Ecosystems, Supporting Health.


Conference website...  


ecohealth reportOther work by the NCCAH that recognizes the importance of the environment for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples' health include a 2011 gathering hosted by the NCCAH that brought international groups together to share Indigenous knowledge about the links between the health of land and the health of people (read more...). In addition, our  report Ecohealth and Aboriginal Health: A Review of Common Ground, authored by Dr. Margot Parkes, Canada Research Chair in Health, Ecosystems and Society, identifies potential common ground between the emerging fields of ecohealth and holistic approaches to Aboriginal health (read more...).


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Recent events for the NCCAH

BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) Annual Training Conference
November 8-10, 2012  

The NCCAH was in attendance at the BCACCS conference to strengthen networks in Aboriginal child health and to share our resources with others working in the field. This is an annual training conference focused specifically on Aboriginal ways of knowing and being.  


For more information... 


Public Health Association of BC (PHABC) Conference  

November 22-23, 2012

The NCCAH hosted an information booth to share resources and strengthen networks with participants in public health at this year's conference, Reorienting Health Services: Aligning Primary Health Care and Public Health in Pursuit of Health for All. The conference challenged those in primary care and public health to improve collaboration in order to reduce the burden of disease and address health inequities and the determinants of health. Participants engaged in questions related to shifting our health care systems from a path dominated by the goal of curing illness, to a path that aims to promote the health of people considered as 'whole' persons, in their communities, with their cultures and traditions, and in their social and physical environments.


For more information... 


Journées annuelles de santé publique (JASP)  

November 26-28, 2012

The NCCAH hosted an information booth at this annual meeting in Montreal, Québec, along with the five other National Collaborating Centres. The Journées annuelles de santé publique (Annual Public Health Days) began from collective efforts from the public health network and is driven by the need for advanced/continuing education for the network and its diverse partners. The JASP scientific program addresses up to date challenges and recent findings and knowledge around well-known public health issues. The NCCAH was there to engage with those in the public health network and to disseminate knowledge and resources related to Aboriginal health.


Conference website... 


Fireside chat on The Fine Arts of Health   

December 4, 2012

NCCAH's Dr. Sarah de Leeuw hosted a free CHNET-WORKS webinar on the intersections between medicine, health, the creative arts, and the humanities.

From its earliest inception, and witnessed in the Latin roots of the word as "the art of healing," medicine has always been understood as both a science and an art. Increasingly, the broader concept of health is also being understood as resting on both the sciences and the arts in order to be fully optimized. The arts and humanities, and their associated methods and methodologies, are thus finding their ways into health and healthcare education, research and practice. Dr. de Leeuw  discussed the potential of the creative arts and the humanities as a means of addressing persistent health inequalities in Canada, including the divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

For more information...    



Visit our new and improved events calendar for events relevant to Aboriginal public health. Send us an email if you have an event you would like included in our calendar.


View our events calendar... 



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Contact us

Tell us what you think!

We always love to hear from you! Contact us with your comments, questions and feedback at  


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National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health
3333 University Way
Prince George, British Columbia  V2N 4Z9
Tel: 250-960-5250
Fax: 250-960-5644
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