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A Stroke Resource Guide for Health Service Providers Working with Aboriginal Peoples of Ontario

Aboriginal individuals have a higher risk of dying from heart attacks and strokes. [1]  They also experience the lowest health status of any identifiable population in Ontario.[2]  Health Canada acknowledges that this current health status is inextricably linked to the history of colonization and oppression.[3]  When an Aboriginal individual seeks care, it may not be provided in a culturally safe and respectful manner. This can lead to high rates of non-compliance and feelings of fear.[4]

Health service providers (HSP) must gain an understanding of Aboriginal history, beliefs, and the specific social determinants of health that have negatively impacted Aboriginal well-being. HSPs will then be able to provide culturally acceptable and appropriate care an Aboriginal individual needs.

A Stroke Resource Guide for Health Service Providers Working with Aboriginal Peoples of Ontario was a collaboration of four Stroke Networks in Ontario. It focuses on enhancing the knowledge, empathy and awareness of HSPs in order to impart culturally safe and optimal stroke care to Aboriginal individuals. The Guide is disseminated in conjunction with an interactive education session facilitated by an Aboriginal Preceptor.

To date, the Toronto Stroke Networks (TSNs) have provided Aboriginal Cultural Safety sessions to teams within St Michael’s Hospital, to students at the Interprofessional Education Series, and to community organizations. The Indigenous Health Curriculum at the University of Toronto will also be using the Guide as their primary resource for their medical students.

The Guide can be found on the TSN website:

CBC has also created a compelling four part series documentary called 8th Fire. It highlights contemporary Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, the social and economic issues they face and how they are moving forward. You can view it at:

[1] Health Canada. A Statistical Profile on the Health of First Nations in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Minister of Public Works and Government Services. 2003

[2] Ontario Health Quality Council.  Report on Ontario’s Health System. 2007

[3] Cancer Care Ontario, Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). Taking action to prevent chronic disease: recommendations for a healthier Ontario. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 2012

[4] National Aboriginal Health Organization. Cultural competency and safety: A guide for health care administrators, providers and educators. January 2008


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