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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

Aboriginal Patient Navigators (APNs) provide a benefit to both the patient and to health care providers. The APN works directly with VCH staff and other health care service providers to make sure Aboriginal patients get the best care possible.

APNs can:

  • Help staff create a personal plan when a patient leaves a hospital or care program.

  • Help VCH health care teams understand and work with Aboriginal health practices and beliefs.

  • Assist staff if a patient or family member requests access to an Elder or a traditional ceremony such as:

    • smudging,

    • cedar and eagle fan brushings,

    • blanketing, medicine bundles, or

    • talking circles.

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

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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