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Canadian Public Health Association

Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day 2024


Ottawa, Ontario

On this National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) celebrates and honors the rich cultures, traditions, and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. Today, we acknowledge the deep-rooted histories and enduring resilience of Indigenous communities, while also recognizing the ongoing challenges they face due to systemic racism.

The ongoing legacy of colonialism, including the devastating effects of residential schools, forced displacement, and assimilation policies, continues to influence the health and well-being of Indigenous communities. These injustices result in significant health disparities, with Indigenous populations experiencing higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses. Mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and trauma, are also more prevalent, often exacerbated by the intergenerational effects of colonization.

Access to health services remains a critical issue. Many Indigenous communities, particularly those in remote and rural areas, face significant barriers to obtaining quality healthcare services. This includes a lack of healthcare infrastructure, insufficient funding, and cultural insensitivity and racism within the healthcare system. As of June 2024, there are currently 28 First Nations communities under long-term boil-water advisories. Long-term boil-water advisories affect these communities through waterborne illnesses, the constant stress of having to manage unsafe water, financial burden, limits to economic growth, and overall well-being. The inability to access clean water affects cultural practices and ceremonies, influencing community cohesion and cultural continuity.

Despite these challenges, the resilience of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples shines brightly. Traditional knowledge and practices, which have sustained Indigenous Peoples for generations, continue to play a vital role in promoting health and well-being. Community-led initiatives in health promotion, education, and environmental stewardship are powerful examples of Indigenous resilience and self-determination.

CPHA recognizes that Truth and Reconciliation is an ongoing and evolving process, and that every interaction between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous people is an opportunity to advance truth and reconciliation. We strive to embed Truth and Reconciliation meaningfully in our work, and to have robust relations with Indigenous Peoples based on mutual respect, trust, and dialogue. This requires listening to and amplifying Indigenous voices, respecting their knowledge systems, and supporting their right to self-determination. It also demands that we support Indigenous advocacy for action by Canadian governments to address health inequities by improving access to culturally appropriate healthcare and addressing social determinants of health.

By holding Canada accountable for addressing the public health impacts of systemic racism and support the resilience and self-determination of Indigenous communities, we can create a future where all Indigenous Peoples thrive in health, dignity, and respect.

For more information contact:
Dolores Gutierrez, Communications & Marketing Officer
Canadian Public Health Association
Telephone: 613.725.3769, ext. 190

About the Canadian Public Health Association
Founded in 1910, the Canadian Public Health Association is the independent voice for public health in Canada with links to the international community. As the only Canadian non-governmental organization focused exclusively on public health, we are uniquely positioned to advise decision-makers about public health system reform and to guide initiatives to help safeguard the personal and community health of Canadians and people around the world. We are a national, independent, not-for-profit, voluntary association. Our members believe in universal and equitable access to the basic conditions that are necessary to achieve health for all.

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