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Indigenous Health

Indigenous Health supports PHSA agencies, programs and services in a collective approach to Indigenous health.


Our work
PHSA’s Indigenous Health program aims to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous people, and to close the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous British Columbians. 

Subcommittee members representing each of PHSA’s agencies, programs and services, as well as external, provincially focused Indigenous partners, meet regularly to set goals and direction, and support, collaborate and exchange knowledge on best practices in Indigenous health. 

Together, we work towards:
  • Better Indigenous health outcomes.
  • Better partnerships with the Indigenous community.
  • Better health promotion.
  • Better access to health services through culturally competent service providers.
  • Better collaboration between agencies.
  • Better career opportunities for Indigenous people.

We support community-based contracted health initiatives with a provincial focus, host annual training and networking conferences for Aboriginal Patient Liaisons in BC and support Qwal Lelulm, an Aboriginal nurse networking and resources site for Aboriginal nurses, patient navigators and doulas.

The San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training program was designed and is hosted by PHSA Indigenous Health. 


Annual training opportunities and a provincial network are available to Aboriginal Patient Liaisons through PHSA Indigenous Health.

The report Dancing in Both Worlds was created at the November 2013 Aboriginal Patient Liaison annual conference.

PHSA assists provincially-focused, community-based Indigenous health initiatives in the areas of HIV/AIDS primary prevention and education, and disabilities.


Cultural safety
PHSA Indigenous Health is a national leader in the area of Indigenous cultural safety training. 

Cultural safety is about actively working to provide fairer and safer care to Indigenous people. This means considering how history shapes Indigenous people’s health care experiences today, and working to address racism, stereotyping and discrimination. 

San'yas means 'knowing' and 'to know' in Kwak’wala, the language of the Kwakwaka'wakw Peoples, whose traditional territory lies in northern Vancouver Island and surrounding areas. 

Indigenous people in Canada experience the greatest inequities in health and access to care, and many experience harms and discrimination when receiving services. 

The first of its kind in Canada, the San'yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training was created by PHSA’s Indigenous Health program to improve the safety and quality of health services Indigenous people receive. 

It is an accredited, online training program designed to increase knowledge, enhance self-awareness, and strengthen the skills of those who work both directly and indirectly with Indigenous people.

Through interactive and facilitated online training, participants learn about aspects of history and contexts for understanding social disparities and health inequities. They also examine Indigenous diversity, stereotyping, and the impacts of colonization, while learning tools to develop more effective communication and relationship-building skills. 

In addition to the Core Health Indigenous Cultural Safety training, there are courses specific to mental health and child welfare, as well as post-training courses.

For more information or to register for Indigenous Cultural Safety training, please visit
The Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) Learning Series is a monthly webinar series focused on Indigenous cultural safety. 

It provides an interactive, online forum for discussion and debate on issues related to Indigenous cultural safety, and supports professionals in advocating for, developing and implementing culturally safe policy and practice in their organizations. 

At each session, guest speakers present topics related to Indigenous cultural safety. Each 90-minute webinar is hosted online using the WebEx platform. Participants are encouraged to submit questions; the facilitator will select a few to ask the speakers.


‘Deconstructing’ Racism: Strategies for Individual and Organizational Change
Thursday, February 23, 2017
10:30 a.m. – 12 noon PST/1:30 – 3 p.m. EST

  • Dave Sjoberg is an Anglo-Celtic Australian with a commitment to social justice and educating non-Aboriginal people about whiteness and a ‘shared history’. He lectures in Indigenous Health in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. While living and working at Camp Coorong Race Relations and Cultural Education Centre, on the Kurangk in Ngarrindjeri Ruwe, he was taught by Ngarrindjeri Elders in his role as a race relations educator. Community based lived experience has helped him develop a strong human rights/Indigenous rights based approach to curriculum development and teaching. His work incorporates enhancing student’s critical thinking and writing in order to decolonize their health care practice. David will describe a joint Deconstruction Exercise developed under the guidance of Elders and integrated into teaching modalities.
  • Professor Dennis McDermott is the director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Well-Being, Adelaide, at Flinders University. Dennis is a psychologist, academic and poet. A Koori man, his mother’s family is from Gadigal land (inner Sydney) with connections to Gamilaroi country (north-west NSW). Dennis’s teaching and research interests encompass early childhood, social determinants of Indigenous health, racism, incarceration, policy, equity, Indigenous social, spiritual and emotional well-being, workforce development, Indigenous health pedagogy, and the nexus of culture and context in service delivery. In 2014 he was awarded a National Senior Teaching Fellowship by the Australian Government’s Office for Learning and Teaching. Dennis will discuss mechanisms for organizational change in service of enhancing culturally-safe care.
Upcoming dates (topics/speakers to be announced)
  • Thursday, April 27, 2017
  • Thursday, April 27, 2017

Previous webinars

Video recordings of previous webinars can be viewed at 


There is no charge to attend the webinars.

How to register

You are encouraged to participate in the webinar with other individuals and groups in your region to inspire shared learning in the context of your program area and community. If you are planning to attend as a member of a group, please register individually and use one group member’s access code to connect to the webinar.

Who should attend

Anyone who’s interested in expanding their knowledge of cultural safety and building positive relationships with Indigenous people. 

This includes: health and social service providers, educators, students, and other professionals who work with Indigenous people, families or communities.

Questions or more information


Learn more and watch previous webinars at

The ICS learning series is a partnership between PHSA Indigenous Health and the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC), and guided by an advisory council of national and international Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders.

Partners & resources

BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre's Aboriginal Health Program provides both on-site and outreach services to improve the health of Indigenous women and their families. The outreach program offers support to Indigenous communities (both on and off reserve) and includes education about various women's health issues and cervical and breast cancer screening clinics.


Perinatal Services BC is a PHSA program that provides leadership, planning and implementation in collaboration with our tripartite partners to improve access to maternity services for Indigenous women. Perinatal Services BC piloted a doula training program for Indigenous women. Click here to view the Aboriginal Doula Project Report.


Chee Mamuk is a provincial Indigenous health program led by the BC Centre for Disease Control that provides innovative and culturally appropriate sexually transmitted infection (STI) and HIV education, resources and wise practice models. Chee Mamuk's services are grounded in community, tradition and science in order to build capacity in Indigenous communities to prevent the spread of HIV and STIs.


The Centre for Aboriginal Health is one of PHSA's eight centres for Population & Public Health. The Director, PHSA Indigenous Health, chairs the Aboriginal Centre, which provides an Indigenous lens across the other centres. Currently, the Aboriginal Centre supports projects in three communities that demonstrate culturally appropriate community lead collaboration focused on spiritual, mental, physical, emotional and cultural health and wellness initiatives.


Tuberculosis services for Indigenous communities is a program component of the First Nations Health Authority's community health and wellness services. The program serves all First Nation communities in BC with TB control activities, treatment, screening, surveillance, training and education.


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