About this section
This section of the toolkit provides guidance on how cancer programs can understand the needs and priorities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis when it comes to the organization of cancer services, as well as meaningfully engaging them in the identification, development and implementation of models of care.
Partnering with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners
Many First Nations, Inuit and Métis experience inequities in accessing cancer services and diagnostics. Gaps widen in times of system and resource pressures such as those experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Acknowledging and addressing these disparities is a direct response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
Strengths-based community partnerships
First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities and organizations have strategies and resources to manage the health of their communities and understand their local challenges. Engagement should be done collaboratively to support these approaches. There is significant value and utility in the community experience and knowledge of how to address challenges. Engagement can facilitate improved communication and coordination of services, ultimately improving navigation.
Respectful engagement and consultation
Extensive engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments, organizations and communities is critical to co-designing culturally appropriate care and creating meaningful change:
- Recognize, acknowledge and respect the diverse priorities of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples across Canada. Invest time to build trust and establish sustained relationships that support these priorities in models of care.
- Proactively establish and maintain meaningful relationships with communities from the start will help build mutual trust and respect.
- Work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments and communities to understand the strengths of existing models of care and co-design enhancements that optimize available community-based supports.
- Learn and recognize the importance of relationship-building principles and cultural competency when working with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners. Courses are available from groups such as the Indigenous Reconciliation Group and San’yas.
See Informing Community Engagement to inform planning and activities that build respectful engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners in the development of models of care.
Cultural safety and the delivery of culturally appropriate care
The delivery of culturally appropriate care is an important component of cancer care for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. A definition developed by Indigenous partners at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia states that cultural safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care.
Access to culturally appropriate care closer to home is a priority in the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. Innovative models of care and Indigenous navigation programs have a role to play in helping achieve that priority. A set of meaningful indicators is critical to understanding how our collective actions are helping progress Peoples-specific, self-determined priorities.