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.
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.