Southern Health-Santé Sud services a diverse population of over 190,000. We have the fastest growing population in Manitoba, which includes approximately 30,000 Aboriginal (First Nations, Métis & Inuit) peoples.  We recognize that an Aboriginal approach to medicine and healing are holistic and encompass physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance and wellness. Harmonizing traditional healing practices with western medicine helps to build a connectedness between the two that is understood and respected. Due to the inequitable health status between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in our region, addressing the health disparities and health needs of this population in a culturally competent and culturally safe manner is of particular importance.

In 2010, Aboriginal Health Services created a Cultural Resource Toolkit after receiving numerous requests from aboriginal patients/clients/residents and their families to have access to culturally appropriate healing tools/resources for traditional healing ceremonies (e.g. smudges, sashes, Sharing Circles). Prior to the toolkit development, these were not readily available in Southern Health-Santé Sud. Accordingly, it was necessary and critical to develop a concrete tool/resource that was hands on and reflective of our patient/client/resident’s traditional values, beliefs, practices and ceremonies. The toolkit includes the following items:

  • Smudge bowl,
  • Four sacred medicines: sage, cedar, sweet grass, tobacco
  • Medicine bag
  • Wooden matches
  • Broadcloth
  • Dream catcher
  • Candle
  • Métis sash
  • Métis pins
  • Rosary
  • Talking stick
  • Aboriginal painting
  • Smudge in progress sign
  • Written Information regarding:
  • History of Cultural Resource Toolkit
  • Relevance of Cultural Resource Toolkit
  • Definition of Cultural Competence
  • Significance and use of sacred medicines
  • Smudge Ceremony
  • Sharing Circles
  • Talking stick
  • Dream catcher
  • Métis sash

The contents are housed in a wooden box crafted by a local business.  A deliberate process ensuring adherence to, and integration of traditional cultural practices and beliefs was used to plan and construct the box.

The Cultural Resource Toolkit generated dialogue and a renewed interest in working towards becoming a more culturally competent organization which better understands, values and embraces our culturally diverse populations. The toolkit enhances the cultural competence of the organization because it allows individuals to increase their understanding, sensitivity, appreciation, and responsiveness to cultural differences and uniqueness by providing concrete tools and resources. The use of, and education on, the Cultural Resource Toolkit supports an ongoing relational process of inclusion, and of building and maintaining trust while providing patients/clients/residents access to traditional healing practices and ceremonies.

Contact Information:

Title: Regional Director-Aboriginal Health Program

Contact Information:

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