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Wotstak First Nation Healthbox: Integrating Cultural And Traditional Indigenous Values

17
Jun
2024
Contributors
Melanie Madore
Community Health Nurse, Woodstock First Nation Health Centre
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The legacy of colonization, cultural loss, and intergenerational trauma has profoundly affected the health and wellbeing of many First Nations communities, particularly concerning substance abuse, addiction, and related mental health issues.

Substance use impacts all aspects of our lives, families, and communities in diverse ways. As overdose statistics and substance use trends continue to rise, the Wotstak (Woodstock) First Nation Health Centre began exploring solutions.

Traditional harm reduction models often overlook systemic issues underlying substance use among Indigenous peoples. Our Healthbox expands this perspective, integrating Indigenous Knowledges and worldviews.

Through partnerships, we discovered Our Healthbox by REACH Nexus, integrating cultural teachings, community, and land connections into conventional harm reduction. This ‘smart’, interactive dispensing machine aims to:

• Provide free, low-barrier access to HIV self-testing kits, essential harm reduction, and sexual health supplies.

• Offer health resources and a service directory for local healthcare access.

Following discussions with REACH Nexus, our Health Centre embraced Our Healthbox for its potential to meet individuals and communities where they are, supporting their health and wellness journeys. Throughout implementation, we tailored Our Healthbox to prioritize community needs:

• Addressing period poverty through a partnership with Aunt Flow for menstrual hygiene products.

• Including traditional medicine bundles with input from elders to enhance spiritual wellbeing.

• Combatting HIV stigma with self-test kits and providing snack packs to tackle food insecurity.

Our Healthbox operates 24/7, promoting self-determination and offering a stigma-free environment accessible to all community members.

By removing barriers like systemic racism and transportation challenges, it facilitates care-seeking at one’s convenience.

Traditional harm reduction models often overlook systemic issues underlying substance use among Indigenous peoples. Our Healthbox expands this perspective, integrating Indigenous Knowledges and worldviews.

As the First Nations Health Authority asserts, Indigenous harm reduction reconnects individuals with culture and rebuilds spiritual, human, and natural world connections, mitigating colonial legacies.

Our Healthbox embodies Indigenous values aligned with harm reduction principles, emphasizing cultural integration and community needs. It supports our community in developing and accessing tailored harm reduction strategies and services.

About the Organizations and Authors

Melanie Madore, a Registered Nurse for over 10 years, serves as the Community Health Nurse at the Woodstock First Nation Health Centre and as a Public Health Nurse with Horizon Health (New Brunswick). She champions patient-centered, culturally competent care in harm reduction, health programming, and population health. Melanie is also a busy mother to three children, three dogs, two cats, and seven chickens. An avid gardener and outdoor enthusiast, she particularly enjoys paddle boarding.

The Woodstock First Nation Health Centre provides health and community services emphasizing family, community, and cultural connections. It supports First Nations individuals and families in achieving physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health through health promotion, traditional teachings, education, disease prevention activities, partnerships, and comprehensive health services.

Contributors
Melanie Madore
Community Health Nurse, Woodstock First Nation Health Centre
Interested in contributing to the Our Healthbox blog? Your story, ideas and insight matter. Whether you’re from a Community Based Organization, independent, or otherwise, we’d love to hear from you!
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