Helpers needed – Elders & Knowledge Keepers program

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Indigenous Medicine


Vancouver Coastal Health’s Aboriginal Health Department has a pilot project opportunity! A select few will be given the opportunity to work alongside Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers. Traditional teachings tell us our Elders & Knowledge Keepers must always have Helpers for safety and so that the knowledge can be passed onto the next generation. We are looking for Indigenous students who would like to be Helpers for our Elders & Knowledge Keepers program.

The Helpers group will start small and then grow as we assess and make adjustments. The pilot project’s initial roll out will contain four adults, eight youth and two Traditional Elders. The adults will commit to a minimum of sixteen hours a month while the youth will commit to a minimum of four hours per month [The hours do have some flexibility].

The work of the Elder & Knowledge Keepers (KK) is very diverse at Vancouver Coastal health as noted below:

  • Use traditional ways to support Indigenous patients with their families in health care settings;
  • Provide cultural support to Indigenous patients and their families in crisis or at times of passing;
  • Provide cultural teachings and guidance at health authority meetings (addictions, mental health, DTES, youth, seniors, maternity, health care education, etc.);
  • Lead and provide cultural support to small groups in health care settings, such as Indigenous youth at the HOpe, or Indigenous seniors in long-term hospital care;
  • Share Indigenous teachings at meetings, conferences and workshops;
  • Provide openings/closings/land acknowledgments for Vancouver Coastal Health conferences/gatherings/events.

Description: Indigenous Medicine – VCH – Student Opportunities

Please contact Shawna.duncan@vch.ca for more information.



Voices of Elders: National Summit of Indigenous Wisdom on Reconciliation. 8 pm, Apr 22, 2016

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“True reconciliation, fundamentally, is about relationships. It means that you and I can coexist in mutual respect and all of us can afford each other dignity.”
– Chief Robert Joseph

“True reconciliation will require Canadians to move beyond empathy and treaty acknowledgements and pursue systemic change.“

– Ryan McMahon


Sharing Our Wisdom: A Holistic Aboriginal Health Initiative Conference; 9-4:30 pm, May 20, 2015

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Attention Elders, Youth, Community Members, Helpers who work in Aboriginal health (e.g., Counsellors, Social Workers, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, MDs, Psycholgists, Psychiatrists, Front Line Workers, Outreach workers) and anyone else interested in learning about Aboriginal Healthcare strategies and practices….


This research project originated out of discussions and research with the urban Aboriginal community which taught us that community based research, Indigenous Knowledge, and knowledge translation are important and have much to offer academia. An underlying theme of this project was to gain an understanding of the effectiveness of traditional Aboriginal healing knowledge when addressing health inequities experienced by Aboriginal peoples. With the guidance of the Aboriginal Health Working Group (Aboriginal Elders and community members who specialize in Aboriginal health) we developed 7 holistic health circles (workshops) to: engage Aboriginal participants in learning about Aboriginal health practices; facilitate a healthier life context; work towards the prevention of risk factors for health issues and validate and create a better understanding of the utility of traditional healing practices. The research question was twofold: 1) Do Aboriginal traditional health practices provide a more meaningful way of addressing health strategies for Aboriginal peoples? 2) How does the participation in health circles, based on Aboriginal traditional knowledge, impact the health of Aboriginal peoples? We recruited Aboriginal community members to participate in the research. We gathered information through focus groups and interviews with participants’ about their health knowledge and practices before and after health circle attendance; documented their experiences of the health circles, and illuminated how they perceive it has affected their overall health and view of traditional health practices.

We want to SHARE OUR WISDOM and the findings from the project through an interactive Aboriginal Health conference day. Please join us for the day to engage in dialogue concerning Aboriginal health.


PANEL- Aboriginal Elders and Community Members will share their experiences with this project

Lunch, door prizes, entertainment and great dialogue will be provided!

If you would like to attend this FREE conference

Please register and pass along to others!!

We would like to thank the VANCOUVER FOUNDATION for their generous funding for this research project!

Have questions about Sharing Our Wisdom: A Holistic Aboriginal Health Initiative Conference? Contact Indigenous Peoples Research Partnerships and the Aboriginal Health Working Group