Shkagamik-kwe Health Centre

In 1994, the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy conducted a consultation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities that resulted in Ontario’s Aboriginal Health Policy. Concerns were raised about the systemic health disparities and inequities within the Indigenous population across Ontario. The response was the development of Aboriginal community-led primary health care. The following year, Ontario’s Aboriginal Health Access Centres (AHACs) started to open their doors. By 2000, there were ten AHACs in operation across Ontario, providing services both on and off reserve, and in urban, rural and northern locations.

All ten AHACs operate from a holistic Aboriginal health framework that focuses on “culture as treatment,” meaning the restoration and re-balancing of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of Aboriginal people, families, communities and Nations. AHACs provide a combination of traditional healing, primary care, cultural programs, health promotion programs, community development initiatives, and social support services to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. Services range from clinical care to integrated chronic disease prevention and management, family-focused maternal/child health care, addictions counselling, traditional healing, mental health care, youth empowerment and other programs.

In Greater Sudbury, Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre (SKHC) is the AHAC providing equitable access to quality health care for First Nation, Métis and Inuit individuals and their families living in the City of Greater Sudbury, as well as those residing in Henvey Inlet, Magnetawan and Wahnapitae First Nations. SKHC (2017) “is dedicated to balanced and healthy lifestyles through quality, holistic, culturally-relevant health services to the First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals and their families…” This is done through the creation and delivery of culturally safe health services aimed at prevention, treatment, support and aftercare that combines western and traditional health practices. Health practice is guided by the teachings of the Seven Sacred Grandfathers: Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility and Truth.

SKHC follows a “Woven Blanket Model of Care” that recognizes the clients’ ability to determine their health care providers. There is flexibility built into this model of care in that team members have the flexibility to “cross cover” and “back up” others as required. This allows team members to fill in when a client’s principal provider is away. Although clients may be assigned a principal primary care provider (e.g., nurse practitioner, physician assistant or physician), the team is there to ensure that the client receives holistic and comprehensive care. In the Woven Blanket Model of Care, “Client Navigators” are responsible for coordinating client care. They communicate with “principal providers” and other resource people and advocate on behalf of the client at regular team meetings to ensure that team members are aware of issues and that appropriate responses can be made for client care. The client navigator ensures that services are offered in a culturally safe environment and that services are respectful of the client’s traditional values and unique needs.

Learning Activities

  1. Take some time to explore the Shkagamik-kwe Health Centre website.
    1. What is your first impression upon exploration of this website?
    2. What does the website tell you about the culture of the organization?
    3. If you are an Aboriginal person, do you see yourself reflected in the environment of this organization? If you are non-Aboriginal, how comfortable would an Aboriginal person feel about accessing health services from this organization


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