Making space for Indigenous knowledge translation activities in Canadian health librarianship

A literature review and recommendations


  • Eleri Staiger-Williams UBC
  • Adair Harper UBC




Introduction: In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 22 called upon “those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices” 1. Given that research has shown that health librarians have this ability to help affect change in the healthcare system, how does the health library literature reflect shifting professional practice that make space for Indigenous peoples and knowledge?

Methods: In this literature review, we searched for keywords and controlled terms, or subject headings, on Indigenous topics within three key North American health library journals: the Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association (JCHLA) (indexed in CINAHL); the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) (Ovid MEDLINE); and Medical Reference Services Quarterly (MSRQ) (Ovid MEDLINE). A modified version of Smylie et al’s2 model of critical self-reflection guided by Indigenous knowledge translation principles was then used to analyse the papers and suggest potential avenues for future research.

Results: Our initial search retrieved 8 articles from JMLA, 2 from MRSQ, and 14 from JCHLA which our exclusion criteria reduced to 5 articles that were then qualitatively analyzed. Of these only two articles reflected a more substantial engagement with Indigenous knowledge translation practices.

Discussion: Most of the articles did not explicitly engage in self-reflection about how their personal, professional or systemic privileges and biases impact their work with Indigenous health topics.




How to Cite

Staiger-Williams, E., & Harper, A. (2019). Making space for Indigenous knowledge translation activities in Canadian health librarianship: A literature review and recommendations. Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association / Journal De l’Association Des bibliothèques De La Santé Du Canada, 40(3), 124–136.



Review Articles