Partnering with an Aboriginal Community for Health and Education


  • Lorraine Carter
  • Ellen Rukholm



Cultural awareness is a concept that is gaining much attention in health and education settings across North America. This article describes how the concepts of cultural awareness shaped the process and the curriculum of an online health education project called Interprofessional Collaboration: Culturally-informed Aboriginal Health Care. The exploration focuses on the interactions among faculty members and educational developers from Laurentian University, Elders of the Anishinabek tradition, and members of the Anishinabek community known as the North Shore, an area approximately two hours northwest of Sudbury. The project's curriculum is driven by choices made by the Anishinabek Elders, with support from their cultural community and the local university. The online module developed for this project provides health-care students at Laurentian University, with access to traditional knowledge, including the teachings of the Medicine Wheel and the Seven Grandfathers. Ideally, these teachings will lead to an increase in culturally informed care for Anishinabek clients and their families in northern Ontario. The process used by the university-based team with the Elders and the larger community of the North Shore is recommended as a possible template for university-based teams working with Aboriginal partners. Finally, the Anishinabeks of the North Shore are recognized as a cultural exemplar of a community that appreciates the intersection and potential of traditional knowledge and contemporary health education practices and technologies.

Author Biographies

Lorraine Carter

Lorraine Carter has extensive experience in online and distributed education in remote, rural, and northern contexts. Her present research interests include culturally safe health care and inter-professional health applications, such as telehealth and telenursing. Lorraine is the present chair of the CAUCE Information and Research Committee and is a faculty member in the School of Nursing at Laurentian University.

Ellen Rukholm

Ellen Rukholm is Professor Emeritus with Laurentian University's School of Nursing and the present executive director of the Canadian Association for Schools of Nursing (CASN). Among her many educational and research interests are access and flexibility for health students, cardiac health and education, inter-professionalism, and cultural safety.