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.

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