An overview of traditional knowledge and medicine and public health in Canada
For Indigenous Peoples living in Canada and around the world, the inter-relationships between the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects of being are integral to individual and community health. This holistic view is increasingly being acknowledged and accepted by the mainstream health community, and is often described in relation to non-medical, or social, determinants of health, such as education, housing, economic status, social capital, etc. Relying solely on bio-medical concepts of disease and of health — as is often the case in western health — is not necessarily an effective system for disease prevention and public health in Aboriginal populations. Culture and ethnicity are among the key determinants of health now being recognized by Health Canada, Canada’s federal health ministry. Research has demonstrated that culture and ethnicity are important to individual and community health because they influence an individual’s interaction with the health care system, their acceptance of and participation in preventative health programs and services, their lifestyle choices, and their access to health information.