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Indigenous Health programs and initiatives

All of our programs and initiatives are aimed at assisting Indigenous peoples and their families to access high quality, culturally safe health care services. We continue to innovate and take steps to enhance acute care services to ensure every Indigenous patient coming into our hospitals feels welcome. To learn more about the programs, teams & initiatives that currently support Indigenous patients and their families at Vancouver Coastal Health expand the sections below. 

For more information, read:

Health care services & resources

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 Indigenous Health Patient Experience Team which consists of the Indigenous Patient Navigator (IPN) team, the Indigenous Patient Care Clinicians and Indigenous Patient Care Quality (IPCQ) Liaisons.

Access the Indigenous Patient Experience Team

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

Toll-free: 1-877-875 -1131

Fax: 604-675-2552

Indigenous Patient Navigators (IPNs)

Indigenous Patient Navigators play a supportive role to patients, families and staff while respecting local traditions, protocols, and practices to ensure culturally safe health care service provision. 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 Clinicians (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, 

  • Prescribing treatment and discharge plans. 

They will support staff by:

  • Providing real time ICS education, and 

  • Identifying gaps in care that require improvement.

Indigenous Patient Care Quality (IPCQ) Liaison

  • The APCQ Liaison works in collaboration with key stakeholders, internal to the organization and the larger VCH PCQO team to facilitate a respectful, comprehensive, and appropriate resolution of patient/family care concerns.

  • The APCQ Liaison provides leadership and consultation by incorporating an Indigenous perspective and bringing a lens of Indigenous cultural safety, diversity, equity and inclusion to the identification, management, resolution and education of patient/client/resident care issues.


Indigenous Patient Navigators play a supportive role to patients, families and staff while respecting local traditions, protocols, and practices to ensure culturally safe health care service provision. To access the support of the Bella Bella APN, please fill out the referral form below or use the contact info to connect with the APN.  Cyndi is available Monday  – Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

For Bella Bella APN support:


Fax: 250-957-2612 

Referrals for Bella Bella APN:
Indigenous Patient Navigator Referral Form


In line with VCH's commitment to providing accessible, culturally appropriate health care to Indigenous patients and families (see ICS Policy), the Elders in Residence Program embeds Elders and Knowledge Keepers from different Indigenous nations in acute and community health care sites. The Elders and Knowledge Keepers offer culturally specific medicines and healing methods to Indigenous patients and families and provide culturally-specific consultation to involved health care staff and physicians.

Elders' life experience, historical perspective, spiritual knowledge, and cultural connections make them a valuable resource. Currently, Elders are in place at a number of services including Heatley Community Health Clinic, HOpe Centre, George Pearson Centre, Sheway, Downtown CHC and Pender CHC. They are also supporting the Carlisle Centre at Lions Gate hospital and will  soon be in place at VGH.


VCH supports the First Nations and Indigenous Primary Care Network which consists of eight members. The eight members are the only dedicated Indigenous primary care clinics in Greater Vancouver:


Indigenous Wellness Program

There is no longer onsite counselling services available.

Regional Indigenous Mental Wellness and Substance Use Virtual Team

The Regional Indigenous Mental Wellness and Substance Use Virtual Team was created to support the mental health capacity building in rural and remote communities. The program is a collaborative project that aims to enhance the continuity of care between First Nation Mental Health Teams and VCH service providers and bring an Indigenous lens to the VCH Regional Mental Health and Substance Use Clinical Practice Council. The project is funded and supported by First Nations Health Authority and based out of Indigenous Health. This program was previously called the JPB (Joint Project Board), Mental Health Flagship Project.


Vancouver Coastal Health recognizes the importance for many Indigenous people to gather around loved ones in times of illness, healing and while receiving care. Comfortable spaces are provided within each facility and where possible spaces are also available for spiritual and cultural healing practices.

For a list of sacred spaces and places for Indigenous patients and their families to gather while accessing services in Vancouver Coastal Health, read the Sacred Spaces and Gathering Places in VCH booklet.


These awareness resources will help prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect yourself and your community. 


Improving patient care

By creating a clear complaint process for Indigenous patients, Vancouver Coastal Health hopes to address issues that arise as quickly and appropriately as possible. The complete complaint process for Indigenous patients is outlined in the Indigenous Health Complaints Process.


Indigenous Cultural Safety is an outcome of cultural competency, defined and experienced by those who receive the service – they feel safe. Cultural safety is based on understanding the power differentials and potential discriminations inherent in the health service delivery system.

Vancouver Coastal Health is committed to having cultural safety and humility embedded in all levels of the health system. This is a journey that is just beginning - we have a long way to go. As a starting point, our Indigenous Health Team offers a three-hour Indigenous Cultural Safety training workshop where VCH staff is given a history of colonization as well as an overview of VCH's cultural safety policy and its application. 

The staff training workshop includes:

  1. Circle setting: Participants sit in a circle with trained-facilitators, creating a space for dialogue and deep-listening.

  2. Interactive learning: Learners participate in an interactive exercise, exploring the impacts of colonization across Turtle Island (North America).  

  3. An introduction to ICS: Participants leave with the foundational skills to begin their own ICS journey.


The collaborative Urban Aboriginal Health Strategy was recently completed by the First Nations Health Council, Vancouver Coastal Health and the First Nations Health Authority. The strategy is intended to create a more effective, integrated, and culturally competent set of health care services to improve health outcomes of Aboriginal people living in Vancouver, Richmond and the urban North Shore communities. 



Learn about our projects below on our project page

  • The VGH pilot project

  • Redesign of Diamond Family Courtyard

  • Raising Wellness Documentary 


If you have questions, email

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