De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre Aboriginal Health Centre / Clinic for the Hamilton and Brantford area in Ontario. Tue, 17 Apr 2018 20:26:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hamilton tenants call for government help as rents rise – Latest Hamilton news – CBC Hamilton Thu, 30 Jul 2015 18:58:13 +0000

Politicians of all stripes are being asked to listen to tenants at Wednesday’s rally for affordable housing in the city’s core.

Source: Hamilton tenants call for government help as rents rise – Latest Hamilton news – CBC Hamilton

Sixties Scoop shapes Hamilton’s aboriginal demography – Latest Hamilton news – CBC Hamilton Mon, 22 Jun 2015 19:46:22 +0000 Sixties Scoop, the forced adoption and relocation of aboriginal children, went on from the 1960s to 1980s. Its lasting impact, however, is still shaping the faces of Hamilton’s native community today.

According to data from Statistics Canada’s 2011 census, Hamilton’s aboriginal population aged 45 to 49 (those born between 1961 to 1966) is substantially larger than the age groups immediately older and younger.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Sat, 06 Jun 2015 17:37:35 +0000 Truth and Reconciliation Commission

New native health centre eyed Tue, 05 May 2015 14:34:58 +0000 Constance McKnight is executive director of the Aboriginal Health Centre. (Brian Thompson / The Expositor)


Aboriginal prayer, drumming and dance officially marked the planning of a new home for the Aboriginal Health Centre.

Those connected with the centre gathered on Tuesday at the T.B. Costain/SC Johnson Community Centre for a “capital launch” of the proposed building.

A proposal for the project — and a similar one to be built in Hamilton — will soon be prepared for the Ministry of Health in the hope of securing funding.

There has been no potential site selected for the new Brantford centre and executive director Constance McKnight said the cost has yet to be determined.

Consultants have been hired to assess needs, determine costs and draw plans for a new facility. A fundraising campaign also will be launched.

“We’re at the pre-capital stage,” said McKnight.

“We’re creating a proposal. It will be a three- to five-year process before construction begins.”

McKnight said the centre, which provides western and traditional medicine and services, has outgrown its current space at 36 King St. where it has been located for about six years.

“The building is more than 100 years old,” said McKnight. “We’re at the stage that we can’t retrofit it any further.”

McKnight said they have about 1,000 patients and provide service to nearly 3,000 people who are of aboriginal descent, First Nations, Metis and Inuit. The centre provides “culturally appropriate” health-care programs, offering clients a choice of traditional healing or Western medicine, or a combination of both.

Physicians and nurse practitioners provide primary health services, along with mental health support, advocacy, outreach and health promotion, and education services.

Lack of room at the King Street centre forced the organization to rent space on Colborne Street for health promotion activities. Another health centre staff member works from the Brantford Native Housing building on Colborne.

McKnight said a new facility would allow everyone to be under one roof. It would also enable the centre to expand the programs it offers, some of which were discontinued when Pine Tree Native Centre of Brant closed about a decade ago.

“At the end of the day we’d like to have a facility that makes aboriginal people proud to own it and the people of Brantford proud to house it.”

Aboriginal Health Centre needs bigger digs Tue, 05 May 2015 12:39:38 +0000 Hamilton Spectator
By Nicole O’Reilly

The De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre is looking for new homes in Hamilton and Brantford after outgrowing its existing facilities.

The centre, which offers a mix of traditional healing and western medicine, officially launched its capital planning campaign at events in the two cities Tuesday.

Community members, centre employees and representatives from partner agencies gathered in prayer, song and dance and with a traditional lesson at Honouring the Circle on Rosedene Avenue in Hamilton in the afternoon.

Details of where the new health centres will be located and what they will look like are yet to be decided, but board chair Pat Mandy called the launch of the campaign — with the slogan “Building on our roots” — a major step forward.

The plans are a “new beginning” said the centre’s executive director, Constance McKnight. She described De dwa da dehs nye>s, which means “taking care of each other amongst ourselves,” as a place of community, refuge, learning, healing and sharing.

It’s a long path forward, said project leader Susan Conner, a consultant with PRISM Partners Inc. The key will be building a compelling case for funding to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, she told the crowd, later adding that the price tag will be in the millions.

They are planning a community feedback session for late June and expect to submit a proposal to the ministry as early as the end of July, Conner said.

The centre services roughly 1,500 clients a year in everything from primary health care to spiritual healing and mental health and addiction services.

Hamilton’s site at 678 Main St. E. is an aged, three-level brick building with significant space and structural issues.

Architect Brian Porter of Two Row Architect told the crowd they will have to prove to the province that simply renovating the spaces is not an option.

“It’s like your favourite pair of blue jeans in high school that you just can’t fit into anymore,” he said.

Clinical services manager Angela Naveau says when she started with the centre about 11 years ago, they were operating out of a trailer at the site on King Street in Brantford.

In an interview, she said she’s excited to see how far they have come.

Naveau was part of a team from Aboriginal Health Centres across the province who visited a centre in Anchorage, Ala., about a year ago.

That centre, the Southcentral Foundation, is heavily client-driven, Naveau said, adding that this is the dream for the new facilities in Hamilton and Brantford.

905-526-3199 | @NicoleatTheSpec

Project to give homeless aboriginals a place to live Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:40:36 +0000 “housing first” program is expected to give Hamilton’s homeless aboriginals a real chance at a stable and long-term place to live.

The project, Homeward Bound: From Homelessness to Community,” kicked off Friday at the Hamilton Aboriginal Homelessness Symposium.

The project — just like its counterpart programs helping other homeless populations — will start by finding a person a home. Once housed, myriad community agencies and supports will be tapped so homelessness doesn’t reoccur. This means the person will get physical and mental health assessments and be referred to the appropriate help required. Connections to community supports and agencies that provide food, furnishings and clothing will also be provided.

The final step is to get the person involved in the community.

“Those who are chronically and episodically homeless will have a case manager,” explains Constance McKnight, executive-director of the De Dwa Da Dehs Nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre and Homeward Bound leader.

She said the project gives the homeless hope.

“We’re excited because for many of the homeless aboriginals in Hamilton we’ll be coming into contact with, this program will be the first step to recovery.”

The program starts with providing housing, but is also providing “health, wellness and connections to appropriate services and supports,” she said.

McKnight expects outreach workers will be ready to hit the streets by June to seek out the homeless and get them started on the path to having a home.

The symposium heard that in a recent Social Planning and Research Council survey of 129 homeless people in downtown Hamilton, about half were of aboriginal ancestry.

Speakers referenced the specific challenges aboriginals face that lead to homelessness in urban centres. These include the intergenerational trauma and impact of residential schools and historic government policies of removing thousands of children from their families and communities and putting them in foster care, loss of culture as a result, and of racism and discrimination.

Many Aboriginals leaving reserves for urban centres also have little education and no employment or training, said Peter Menzies, former head of aboriginal services at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH).

“It’s almost like migrating from the Third World,” he said. “Many are fearful of the government, police and even you (aboriginal services) because you have urban values. All these things are being played out.”
905-526-3392 | @CarmatTheSpec

Navigating the special demands of aboriginal health Tue, 04 Nov 2014 14:44:51 +0000 Hamilton Spectator
By Nicole O’Reilly

Jodi Rock likes to think of herself as “piggybacking” clients as they navigate the health system.

Sometimes that means holding their hand during a doctor’s visit, or helping set up transportation, or getting them into post-discharge programs. As Hamilton’s inaugural aboriginal patient navigator she “bridges the gap” between local members of the aboriginal community and health-care providers.

“We service cradle to grave, all ages, all diseases, we look at all aspects of health: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual,” she said, adding that unlike other programs they focus on the whole family.

Rock is one of three navigators being funded through the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network as part of the Aboriginal Health Network.

The other two navigators are in Brant and Niagara. The program received $ 94,950 for this fiscal year to get it off the ground. It then gets $ 242,400 in annual base funding to keep the program running.

When Rock began her job in March, there was already a wait list of people who had heard about the service through word of mouth.

Since then, she’s met with upwards of 70 people a month.

The program is run through the De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre on Main Street East, which offers health care — both traditional and western — to the local aboriginal population. But Rock is based out of the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre on Ottawa Street North, with the idea of being highly visible in the community.

“This is a program that is getting people to the right care, at the right time and place and prepares them for a healthier life both short and long term,” said Donna Cripps, CEO of the HNHB LHIN.

The program works with an existing aboriginal patient navigator who deals exclusively with cancer patients at Juravinski Cancer Centre.

Rock says her job is to help patients and their care providers overcome barriers. But it’s also about educating them on how diseases affect the community differently.

A first-of-its kind study released in July looked at Hamilton’s urban aboriginal population and access to health care. Speaking with 554 community members referred through De dwa da dehs nye>s, it found staggering poverty and higher rates of chronic diseases.

“The reality is any of those diseases affect our people differently: cancer, diabetes, our people are struggling more with mental health and addiction,” Rock said. “That’s our reality.”

She said cancer hits the aboriginal community “earlier, harder and faster.”

This idea has been central in two high-profile cases involving aboriginal girls with leukemia who stopped chemotherapy at McMaster Children’s Hospital in favour of traditional medicine.

In one of the cases, the hospital has taken Brant Children’s Aid Society to court, arguing the child welfare agency should have intervened and forced the child to have chemotherapy.

De dwa da dehs nye>s cannot comment on those cases, but Tara Williams, manager of advocacy and outreach services at the health centre, said there is not a growing trend of people rejecting Western medicine for treatment of terminal illnesses.

Rather, they often take a collaborate approach to health-care, weaving Western and traditional methods and relying on culturally specific programs for general health and well-being.

The whole idea of the patient navigator program is to help community members help themselves, Williams said.

“We try to let our people plan their own care … ultimately it’s their choice.

“The philosophy is to ensure our community members have access to the best culturally appropriate health care and supportive services as possible and to identify some of those barriers in service,” she said.

Rock said there is concern about the McMaster Children’s Hospital cases causing some mistrust in the local aboriginal community, a rift she is trying to mend by convincing the community it is still safe to go to hospital.

Ontario Court Justice Gethin Edward, who is presiding over the case, touched on this paradox in court.

“At the end of the day, there needs to be a better effort to work collaboratively. Aren’t we looking at two great cultures? Why do we have to have the antagonism?”

Rock said establishing trust is one of the biggest barriers she helps break. This can be as simple as advising a doctor about eye contact or tone of voice when dealing with a patient.

“For generations we have been second-class citizens, less than … it’s difficult to talk about ourselves,” she said. But this doesn’t mean the patient wants to be difficult, she added.

Williams said it’s a “beautiful thing” when she helps someone gain the confidence and ability to advocate for themselves.

905-526-3199 | @NicoleatTheSpec

The Spectator’s View: Aboriginal health study a call to action Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:46:05 +0000 Hamilton Spectator
By Howard Elliott

A new study that shines a harsh spotlight on the health of Hamilton’s urban native community has something in common with The Spectator’s Code Red research.

Poverty and chronic disease…
The methodology used in the aboriginal health study — conducted by researchers affiliated with St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto — is not the same. But both bodies of work illuminate problems we knew existed, but which turn out to be much more serious than many people thought they were. In the case of Code Red, we knew that the health and even longevity of people living in poverty are adversely affected by their socioeconomic status. But few people would have guessed the difference in life expectancy between Hamilton’s most prosperous neighbourhoods and the poorest was as high as 30 years.

Similarly, it’s not a surprise that poverty and chronic health problems are overly represented in the aboriginal population compared to the general population. But the extent to which that is true is, or should be, shocking. Aboriginal people in the study were three times more likely to have diabetes than the general population. Seventy-eight per cent of the subjects earned less than $20,000 and 70 per cent live in the lowest income neighbourhoods in the city.

Constance McKnight, executive director of the De dwa da dehs Nyes Aboriginal Health Centre summarized the situation succinctly when she said: “Although it was something we knew as a community, in black and white (the numbers) were startling.”

An unusual aspect of this particular study is that it dealt with people who tend to live outside the mainstream. They don’t traditionally take part in studies, research or in census-style data collection. So clients of the aboriginal health centre circulated through their community using non-traditional tools to recruit people to take part in the research. The good new is that those efforts probably resulted in research that is more accurate and reliable. The bad news is that the news is much worse than even aboriginal health advocates thought it would be.

Asthma, diabetes, hypertension and arthritis are much worse in the aboriginal population. To amplify the problem even more, the research shows that urban aboriginal citizens are more likely to be among the heaviest users of emergency rooms. Specifically, 10.6 per cent of the people surveyed had made six or more emergency room visits in the previous two years.

So, now that we know the situation is as bad as it is, what will we do with this information? Clearly, action is needed more than words. The provincial government, the local health integration network, the city and community-health organizations need to collaborate on proactive health and lifestyle programming targeted at the urban aboriginal population. And that needs to happen soon.

Poverty and chronic disease plaguing Hamilton’s aboriginal population Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:47:32 +0000 Hamilton Spectator
By Nicole O’Reilly
Hamilton’s urban aboriginal population faces striking poverty, a disproportionately high rate of chronic diseases and more frequent visits to hospitals’ emergency departments, a new study says.

The magnitude of the results is shocking, even to aboriginal health advocates.

Those interviewed for the study reported higher instances of arthritis, hypertension, asthma and diabetes, and 10.6 per cent had made six or more emergency room visits in the previous two years.

A staggering 78 per cent earned less than $20,000 a year and 70 per cent lived in the lowest income neighbours in the city.

On the other end of the scale, only 3 per cent of study participants fell in the highest income bracket, where 15 per cent of Hamilton residents and 20 per cent of Ontarians fall.

The report is the first of its kind to study health data in Canada’s urban aboriginal population. It is being published in the online journal BMJ Open on Thursday.

“It’s quite surprising that while over 60 per cent of aboriginals in Ontario live in urban centres, we don’t have access … to health data sets,” said lead author Michelle Firestone, a St. Michael’s research associate with a PhD in public health.

She noted the lack of data is largely because of gaps in how health-care data is collected.

Firestone worked with the De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre in Hamilton to recruit 554 First Nations adults living in Hamilton. Clients of the centre went out into their community and recruited people who traditionally don’t access health care or participate in census collection.

The results were both expected and shocking for Constance McKnight, executive director of De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre.

“Although it was something we knew as a community, in black and white, (the numbers) were startling,” she said.

In particular, the poverty rate was much greater than she expected. She also pointed to diabetes rates at three times greater than Hamilton’s general population, which she said was also higher than she expected.

“I’m hoping that (the community) will recognize the disparity between the general population and the aboriginal people,” she said.

When aboriginal people end up in hospital, there is no form they can fill out identifying themselves as aboriginal, and so they can’t be referred to aboriginal services. She said there is a need for more culturally sensitive programs.

Firestone said her team chose Hamilton because of its proximity to reserves, large urban aboriginal population and health care infrastructure.

“It’s interesting because I think a lot of what we found are things that have been known in the community,” she said. “But I think some of the data or information that we found with poverty is pretty shocking.”

She believes they were able to reach community members not captured in traditional census data. They were interviewed between 2009 and 2010, however, Firestone said there are plans to do follow up research and also expand research to other communities.

The biggest barriers to health care — and in particular to preventive health care — identified include long wait lists, limits to transportation and costs.

Firestone said urban areas with high aboriginal populations need to do more to build aboriginal-specific services, services that are “culturally safe” and services that “support aboriginal self-determination.”

Key findings
Health data from 554 urban-living First Nations in Hamilton:

• 78 per cent earned less than $20,000 a year

• 31 per cent reported having arthritis, compared to 20 per cent among Hamilton’s overall population

• 26 per cent reported having hypertension, compared to 20 per cent among Hamilton’s overall population

• 19 per cent reported having asthma, more than twice the rate of Hamilton’s overall population

• 16 per cent reported having diabetes, approximately three times the rate of Hamilton’s overall population

• 25 per cent reported being injured in the previous year

• 9 per cent reported being Hepatitis C positive

• 73 per cent reported an upper respiratory tract infection in the previous year

• 40 per cent felt their access to health care was fair or poor — on a scale of poor, fair, good or excellent.

Source: Unmasking Health Determinants and Health Outcomes for Urban First Nations Using Respondent Driven Sampling

905-526-3199 | @NicoleatTheSpec