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Health Soc Care Community. 2017 Nov;25(6):1763-1773. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12450. Epub 2017 Jun 1.

Engaging Indigenous families in a community-based Indigenous early childhood programme in British Columbia, Canada: A cultural safety perspective.

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National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada.
School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
First Nations Studies, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada.


This article is part of a larger study that explored how an Indigenous early intervention programme in British Columbia (BC), Canada, known as the 'Aboriginal Infant Development Program' (AIDP), influenced family and children's health and well-being and was responsive to child health inequities. Postcolonial feminist and Indigenous feminist perspectives provided a critical analytical lens to this qualitative inquiry. The study was undertaken with AIDPs based in diverse community organisations located in off-reserve urban municipalities throughout the province of BC. From September 2013 to March 2014, in-depth, semi-structured interviews were undertaken with: Indigenous primary caregivers (n = 10), Indigenous Elders (n = 4), AIDP workers (n = 18) and administrative leaders (n = 3). The purpose of this article is to examine and analyse the findings that focus on how AIDP workers supported family and children's health and well-being by transforming their routine policies and practices in ways that fostered caregivers' active engagement in their programmes. Findings centre on three main themes: (i) overcoming mistrust; (ii) 'being willing to move a step forward' and (iii) resisting what's taken-for-granted. These inter-related themes are examined and discussed in relation to the concept of cultural safety. The findings have international relevancy for social and healthcare community-based programmes that are questioning how to engage with parents who may be hard to reach as a result of multi-faceted social and structural factors.


Indigenous children; critical perspectives; cultural safety; early child development; family engagement; health equity


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