Indigenous Resources


The term Indigenous denotes a collective history among Indigenous peoples globally regardless of borders and is increasingly used in Canada to refer to all peoples who self-identify as descendants of the original inhabitants of the land now called Canada. The term ‘Aboriginal’ is also frequently used and is inclusive of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Also important, is using the names of the First Nations in your surrounding area/region and the traditional territory(s) in which you live and work.

  • Indigenous people have lived in the area now known as BC for more than 10,000 years.
  • There are approximately 200,000 Indigenous people in BC, including, include First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
  • BC has the greatest diversity of Indigenous cultures and languages in Canada. There are 198 distinct First Nations, each with their own unique traditions and history. More than 30 different First Nation languages and close to 60 dialects are spoken in the province.
  • Understanding the history of Indigenous peoples in Canada, BC, and the communities with whom you are partnering is fundamental to being able to provide culturally safe pediatric therapy. This includes understanding how the history of the residential school system and the contemporary child welfare system impacts on Indigenous families and children’s health, wellbeing and their access to health care.

A broad range of social determinants differentially influences the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities, families, and children. Partnering with Indigenous communities and families to address the differential impact of adverse social determinants on their children’s early health and development has the potential to enhance family engagement in early intervention programs and health equity for Indigenous children.

To learn about Indigenous determinants of health and wellbeing:

Allan, B., & Smylie, J. (2015). First peoples, second class treatment: The role of racism in the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Retrieved June 5, 2015.

Greenwood, M., de Leeuw, S., Lindsay, N. M., & Reading, C. L. (Eds.). (2015). Determinants of Indigenous peoples’ health in Canada: Beyond the social. Toronto, Canada: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health. (2016). Culture and language as social determinants of First Nations, Inuit and Metis Health.

Reading, C. L., & Wien, F. (2013). Health inequalities and social determinants of Aboriginal peoples’ health. Prince George, Canada: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015) report and its 94 Calls to Action is about and for all Canadians. The report has specific implications and recommendations for all health care providers.

To learn about the Truth & Reconciliation:

Gasparelli, K., Crowley, H., Fricke, M., McKenzie, B., Oosman, S., & Nixon, S. (2016). Mobilizing reconciliation: Implications of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report for physiotherapy in Canada. Physiotherapy Canada, 68(3), 211-212. doi: 10.3138/ptc.68.3.GEE

Gray Smith, M. (2017). Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation.

Restall, G., Gerlach, A. J., Valavaara, K., & Phenix, A. (2016). The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action: How will occupational therapists respond? Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 83(5), 264-268. doi: 10.1177/0008417416678850

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future: Summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Jordan River Anderson was a First Nations little boy from Norway House Cree Nation in northern Manitoba who was born with a rare muscular disorder that resulted in complex medical needs. After spending the first two years of his life in hospital, doctors decided that he could go home. Arguments between the provincial and federal governments over who should pay for Jordan’s care at home resulted in Jordan passed away in hospital in 2005, having never spent a day of his life in his family home or community. In 2007, the House of Commons unanimously endorsed ‘Jordan’s Principle’ – a child first principle aimed at ending the racial discrimination of First Nations children by holding all levels of government accountable for the equitable treatment of all Indigenous children, regardless of where they live.

To learn about Jordan’s Principle:

First Nations Family & Child Caring Society of Canada.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (Producer). (2013, August 5, 2015). Jordan’s Principle the story of Jordan River Anderson – Maurina Beadle.

Sinha, V., & Wong, S. (2015). Ensuring First Nations children’s access to equitable services through Jordan’s Principle: The time to act is now. Paediatrics & Child Health, 20(2), 62-63.

Vives, L., Sinha, V., Burnet, E., Lach, L., in collaboration with Pinaymootang First Nation and Nanaandawewigamig, & First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba. (2017). Honouring Jordan’s Principle: Obstacles to access to equal health and social services for First Nations children with complex needs living in Fairford, Manitoba.