Indigenous Health: A Focus at the Canadian Rheumatology Association Conference

The Indian Act came into being in 1876, and in 1996 the last residential school in Canada closed. Canada has a long history of racism and colonization towards Indigenous people, which has resulted in multigenerational impacts on their quality of life. The social determinants of health include economic, personal, environmental, and social factors. Overcrowding, poor housing, unsanitary drinking water, high unemployment, and the destruction of culture and tradition have contributed to a reduced health status in Canada’s Indigenous people.

For example, Hepatitis C rates are believed to be approximately 1-18% amongst Inuit and First Nations people vs 0.5-2% in the rest of the Canadian population (Hepatitis C Education and Prevention Society). To read more about how Indigenous populations and Hepatitis C recommendations, click here.

Reciprocity is a unifying force which will provide healing and connectedness. It is important for health care providers to work within the framework of equity, where race has no impact on socioeconomic outcome.

June 21, 2019, is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This date was chosen because it is also summer solstice. Many generations of Indigenous people have celebrated their culture on this, the longest day of the year.


Janice Maretzki, Charlton Health pharmacist, attended the  Canadian Rheumatology Association Meeting in Montreal in February and prepared this summary of one of the sessions.

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