It was with disbelief that I read the recent headlines reporting the Harper government’s decision to cut all funding to the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO). As of 30 June, this nonprofit organization that has been working for more than 12 years to promote First Nations, Inuit, and Metis health in Canada will close its doors forever.
As many of you may know, the NAHO publishes a peer-reviewed open-access journal called the Journal of Aboriginal Health that is an invaluable resource to both clinicians and academics involved in the field of First Nations health and cultural safety in health care. Aside from this publication, the NAHO’s mandate is to support collaborative research, indigenous traditional knowledge, capacity-building, and community-led initiatives through collaboration with its member organizations and local communities.
To me, it is ironic and appalling that funding has been cut to an organization doing such unique and valuable work to promote the health and well-being of such an already disadvantaged population. It is well known, but bears repeating that First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people in Canada suffer disproportionately from chronic illness, accidental death, suicide, and infant mortality, not to mention the host of social ills resulting from the legacies of colonialism.
Given the importance of closing this gap and creating health equity in Canada, these funding cuts are surely a step in the wrong direction.
—L. Eustace, MD
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