YMCA at the centre of national Aboriginal services

HEALTH services for Aboriginal peoples took centre stage in Ottawa recently when YMCA Calgary were among the organizations gathered to look at services offered across the country.

The Pathways to Health Equity for Aboriginal Peoples conference, hosted by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) is an initiative dedicated advancing Aboriginal Health Equity through research and practice over the next ten years.

Shannon Doram, Vice President Health and Wellness, attended the forum to talk about the programs and services both YMCA Calgary and YMCA Canada have been involved with.

She explained: “The idea behind the forum was to share the types of programs and services that we know work well and help apply this knowledge with other partners across the country. YMCA Calgary does a great deal of localized work in Aboriginal programs and services and can help lead the way.”

The organizations gathered together, including non-governmental organizations and 13 of the institutes which make up the CIHR, shared experiences and how they could apply what they know to be best practice. The next step will be for the CIHR to synthesize all of the information from the forum and reconnect with partners to discuss the way forward. A great opportunity arising from the partnerships initiative will be for organizations  to get involved with new research and program opportunities funded by CIHR. The forum will go a long way to helping those organizations advance national work in Aboriginal health equity.

And the best part for Shannon? A rare opportunity to speak with Aboriginal elders. She said: “In the Aboriginal culture elders play a huge role. It was really neat to hear them speak about the value of the Y and that they want to hear more about what we do.  It was a really nice validation and an appreciation for what we do.”