Historic report to outline health, well-being of 250 First Nation communities

A First Nations data collector is set to release the results of a historic health survey of First Nations and northern communities.

The First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC), a First Nations-run organization based in Akwesasne, Ont., surveyed 25,000 youth and adults living on more than 250 First Nations. It’s the largest number of people surveyed since the inception of the First Nations Regional Health Survey 20 years ago.

The 430-page health and well-being report spans everything from chronic illness to mental health, oral health and residential schools. It even documents sleep, bullying and self-esteem.

“Not only is it wide-ranging in terms of everything it asks, but it’s also holistic,” said Brad MacKay, communications manager with FNIGC. “It’s built on this cultural framework. So the questionnaire was developed in concert with First Nations people and organizations.”

A pilot First Nations health survey was launched in 1997 in response to the federal government’s decision to stop collecting data in First Nations communities. What makes the latest – the third “phase” of the survey – unique is that it documents trends over time.

Data-gatherers started surveying First Nations members in April 2015 and wrapped up 18 months later.

FNIGC will release the first chunk of the report during a health conference in Ottawa March 13-14.

About 150 data-gatherers, health authority employees, regional and government representatives, and academics will be in the city for the two-day event.