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Elders Voices
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Health and Wellness Today

Aboriginal women and children Aboriginal groups across Canada have suffered from increased cases of illness and have experienced shorter life spans compared to other Canadians. This phenomenon is directly related to the higher levels of poverty experienced among Aboriginal people as compared to the larger Canadian population.

The reasons for these discrepancies are found in the difficulties created by socio-economic status, education levels, geography, cultural identity, levels of social inclusion and integration, community structure, and lack of infrastructure for health and wellness.

The result was a series of studies and organizations that include the National Aboriginal Health Organization; the Organization for the Advancement of Aboriginal Peoples Health; and the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative. These initiatives and organizations have worked to provide direction and focus for Aboriginal health and wellness needs.

Health and Wellness ~ the Circle of Life The efforts have begun to improve all areas of Aboriginal health and wellness. In the autumn of 2004, the federal government announced that it was going to provide $700 million; from this amount, $200 million was allocated for an Aboriginal Health Transition Fund, which would facilitate the adaptation of existing provincial and federal health service for the needs of Aboriginal peoples; another $100 million was to allow Aboriginal peoples to train for the health services and retain existing medical professionals; and the final $400 million was directed toward mental health programs to reduce youth suicides, provide maternity education, infant wellness, and diabetes clinics.

The Aboriginal healing movement of the 1970s saw the revival of traditional and spiritual values, which were incorporated into the healing process with the help of community Elders. The concept of balance, which was the foundation of traditional health and wellness, continues to fuel healing practices as Elders share their knowledge with younger generations.


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