Northern Health Cultural Safety Case Study



The Northern Health Indigenous Health team developed several resources to support Indigenous people in accessing and navigating the health-care system. These informative booklets outline 1) the patient complaint process, 2) the mental health and addictions programs and services offered by Northern Health, and 3) the sacred spaces and gathering places available in Northern Health buildings and grounds. In these spaces families and community members can come together for spiritual and cultural healing practices.

How Did It Come About?

Each of the booklets was developed in response to needs identified by Indigenous community members, leaders and healthcare providers through a number of forums. Gathering, reviewing and validating the information in each booklet was a unique process due to the nature of the information each booklet contains.


The three booklets support Northern Health's goals to:

  • Support and encourage Indigenous people to voice concerns with their health-care experiences so that the issues can be addressed and healthcare experiences improved

  • Increase access to information about mental health and addictions programs and services

  • Increase awareness of spaces in Northern Health for families to gather in hospital and long-term care settings for spiritual and cultural healing practices.​

Elements of Success

Some of this information had been available online, but it was sometimes difficult for people to find the information they were looking for and Indigenous specific resources and contact information were not highlighted. These booklets consolidate information and make it accessible to those without regular access to a computer or Internet connection.​

Other elements that contributed to the success of the documents and helped them reach a wide audience included:

  • Involving stakeholders and partners both within and external to Northern Health in the content development and review process

  • Incorporating imagery of the natural landscape and animals into the visual design to make the booklets approachable and engaging

  • Writing the documents in plain language

  • Designing a layout to maximize readability

Northern Health distributed the documents electronically and in hard copy to reach as many clients as possible. The booklets were distributed electronically via newsletters, emails, social media and websites; in hard copy at events, health fairs, conferences and meeting; and by mail to Northern Health facilities. The health authority tracks the distribution of hard copies and monitors clicks and downloads of the online versions of the documents. Qualitative information has been collected at meetings and through a Northern Health-wide survey about the Aboriginal Health department and its resources.

Advice for Others

  • Include a range of stakeholders both within and external to the organization to identify the need for a specific resource, to help with compiling and reviewing the content and to distribute the final product. Keep in mind that this can also introduce coordination challenges and lengthen the publishing timeline.

  • Plan, follow through and follow up on a thorough distribution plan to ensure that the information reaches the people who need it.

  • Incorporate ways of evaluating the reach and impact of documents.​

For more information on this initiative, please contact:

Hilary McGregor
Lead, Knowledge Translation and Community Engagement
Aboriginal Health, Northern Health​


Access this case study in PDF format.

Originally published on the First Nations Health Authority website.