Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence

  Naspici Miyomahcihowin (Continuous Good Health)

A Community-Based Research Project Examining the Health Needs of Aboriginal Women in Saskatoon


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The research and publication of this study were funded by the Prairie Women's Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE). The PWHCE is financially supported by the Women's Health Contribution Program, Bureau of Women's Health and Gender Analysis, Health Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the PWHCE or the official policy of Health Canada.

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Saskatoon Aboriginal Women's Health Research Committee

Highlights Of This Report

This report presents the results of a research project developed by the Saskatoon Aboriginal Women's Health Research Committee, a group of First Nations and Metis women interested in improving health services for Aboriginal women and their families. The project used a community-based approach to begin a dialogue with Aboriginal women and service providers in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Information was gathered through a series of focus groups and interviews that took place in 2003. The purpose of the project was to gain a better understanding of Aboriginal women's access to health services in the city, to identify gaps in services, and to develop a shared vision of an Aboriginal Women's Health Centre that would meet the women's health needs.

This report provides feedback to the community of women who participated in the research project and to others interested in improving health services for urban Aboriginal women. The words of the women who participated in this project appear in bold typeface.

The following are the highlights of the report:
  1. Aboriginal women want greater access to Aboriginal Traditional Healers and alternative therapies. The benefits of healers and medicine men and women needs to be shared and emphasized as opposed to western medicine.
    A place where healers, helpers and alternative health systems are provided. A place where you don't have to sign in at the door. A place with a sweat lodge outside, a spa, swimming pool and exercise area.

    Utilize holistic practitioners; require credentials, standards even legislation. There needs to be compatibility between practitioners and Elders. The compatibility of Elders and clientele is vital. The Elders need to be predictable and available and accountable. There needs to be consistency of Elders and Staff.
  2. Aboriginal women envision a holistic health centre based on the Medicine Wheel and Aboriginal Traditional Principles and Teachings.
    Mental, emotional, physical and spirituality of healing, but the different values of Aboriginal women's cultures we need to respect the cultural differences between Dene and Cree etc. We have to respect their cultural belief systems. It is very important.

    Health is balance: It means balancing the [medicine] wheel in total health-mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. And finding balance within yourself through support systems that are sensitive to spirituality, sensitive to culture, sensitive to belief system, sensitive to sexuality, sensitive to gender, sensitive to spirit, sensitive to emotion, and sensitive to physical needs.
  3. Aboriginal women are interested in a facility that meets the needs of the family.
    Women as caregivers of our families need to be healthy in all four areas so to help and take care of husbands, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews etc. Healthy women means healthy family and community.

    Base it on a primary health, one model so that a woman could access a number of services.

    Western traditions health services together should be family, not just women - there is also men and children.
  4. Aboriginal women want greater control over their health and how their health needs are met.
    Aboriginal women want to be listened to, and respected and not judged by my life style or choices by my community or by health professionals.

    Listen to the Aboriginal women - hear what they have to say.

    Deal with the isolation of Aboriginal women - they have a fear to come forward on their own. Use outreach as a method of relationship building. Community starts at the kitchen table. Create a Welcoming environment.

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