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Aboriginal health

We recognize that our places of work and Vancouver Coastal facilities lie on the traditional homelands of the fourteen First Nation communities of Heiltsuk, Kitasoo-Xai’xais, Lil'wat, Musqueam, N’Quatqua, Nuxalk, Samahquam, Sechelt, Skatin, Squamish, Tla’amin, Tsleil-Waututh, Wuikinuxv, and Xa’xtsa.

VCH began committing financial and human resources to the area of Aboriginal health in 1999, in order to work towards meaningful change in Aboriginal communities in our region. Our goal is to work closely with both urban and rural Aboriginal communities to help close the gap between the health status of Aboriginal community members and non-Aboriginal community members in our region.

Aboriginal health services

When an Indigenous patient self-identifies at VGH or LGH, either during the admission process or at any point during their stay, a referral can be made to the Aboriginal Health Patient Experience Team which consists of the Aboriginal Patient Navigator (APN) team and the Indigenous Patient Care Clinicians.  

Access the Aboriginal Health Patient Experience Team

To access the support of the Aboriginal Patient Navigator Program or the Indigenous Patient Care Clinicans, please fill out the referral form below and email or fax it to the program. They are available from 8:30 - 4:30 Monday to Friday.

Aboriginal Health Patient Experience Team Referral Form (PDF)


Toll-free: 1 (877) 875-1131.
Fax: (604) 675-2552

Aboriginal Patient Navigators (APNs)

Aboriginal Patient Navigators work with staff to ensure that First Nations and Aboriginal people have access to high quality, culturally appropriate care. The services provided by APNs include:

  • Consultation with health care staff on health care planning for patients

  • Resource/contact information on Indigenous specific resources & referrals for Health care teams

  • Coaching and consultation on Indigenous patient care

  • Traditional Cultural support – Smudging, traditional medicines

  • Consultation with patients and family on health care needs

  • Indigenous Cultural Safety Education

Indigenous Patient Care Clinicans (IPCCs) 

The IPCCs are experienced registered nurses who bring a variety of expertise. They will support Indigenous patients and families by:

  •  helping to strengthen their understanding of, and confidence in their diagnosis,

  • prescribed treatment and discharge plans. 

They will support staff by:

  • providing real time ICS education, and

  • identifying gaps in care that require improvement.

The Aboriginal Wellness Program (A.W.P.) develops and delivers culturally safe mental wellness and addiction programs for First Nations and Aboriginal people residing within the Lower Mainland including: 

  • Adult counselling

  • Support groups

  • Cultural support & teachings

For more information on the Aboriginal Wellness program and how to access this service, visit the Aboriginal Wellness Program page


This program offers culturally appropriate mental health counselling to Aboriginal youth and their families who have not been able to engage with and/or access mental health services. Mental health clinicians provide services on an outreach based in the youth's own community environment. 

Services include initiatives to engage youth in treatment, mental health and psychiatric assessments as well as various forms of therapeutic mental health counselling and treatments.

There are currently two clinics operating in the Lower Mainland:



  • Sacred Spaces & Gathering Places – This booklet outlines the sacred spaces and places for Aboriginal patients and their families to gather while accessing services in VCH. 

  • Aboriginal Health Complaints Process – What to do with questions, concerns and complaints about your health care. 

  • Aboriginal Cultural Practices – This cultural practices guide aims to help VCH staff within hospital acute care settings to provide culturally responsive health care services to Aboriginal clients/patients. To view the table of contents, use the bookmark function (available when viewing in browser in the top right corner). This guide is also available in an app for download on itunes or Google Play. 

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