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Indigenous Health Services & Reconciliation

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At Niagara Health, we are privileged to provide care on lands that Indigenous Peoples have called home for thousands of years.

If you identify as Indigenous and are coming to Niagara Health for care, there are supports and team members available to help you.

Support services at Niagara Health

Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation Team

Niagara Health has made it a priority to better support Indigenous patients and their families. This includes the addition of three new roles dedicated to planning and implementing practices and services that promote the culturally safe environment and delivery of high-quality healthcare our teams strive to achieve every day.  The Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation team will identify and act on priorities that ensure inclusive, equitable and compassionate healthcare journeys for Indigenous patients and their families. The focus of these roles is separate and apart from the Emergency Department Assessment currently underway, and continues Niagara Health’s commitment to reconciliation in healthcare.

The team currently includes:

  • Charity Beland, Manager, Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation
  • Jolene Courchene, Indigenous Relations Specialist
  • Bethany Williams, Indigenous Relations Specialist

Contact information:

Indigenous Health Services Line : 905.378.4647 x43211


Aboriginal Patient Navigators

Designed specifically to meet the needs of Indigenous Peoples, the Aboriginal Patient Navigator Program provides support to patients and their families and assists in accessing the healthcare system as well as traditional healing and wellness practices. The program also provides navigation services that are culturally appropriate within the health/social service systems for individuals, caregivers and their families to improve patient outcomes.

Services include:

  • Individualized cultural support
  • Co-ordination of services
  • Advocacy
  • Regular contact during hospital stays
  • Discharge planning
  • Referrals and linkages to community resources
  • Access to traditional healing programs
  • Home visits
  • Community follow-up

Contact an Aboriginal Patient Navigator

905-358-4320, or visit 

Learn how an Aboriginal Patient Navigator can help you with cancer care here.

You can also call 905-387-9711 x63312 or ask your family physician to refer you.

Patient Relations

We encourage you to contact Patient Relations should you have any compliments, comments, concerns or suggestions regarding Niagara Health services.

You may contact us by phone at 905-378-4647 x44423 or by

Support services in the community

There are resources that have been recommended by Indigenous community partners. To visit the website of any of the external organizations listed below, please click on the name of the organization. Download a printout of these resources.

Community Resources

  • De dwa da dehs nye s Aboriginal Health Centre
    145 Queenston Street, St. Catharines
    Primary Health Care: 905-544-4320
    Indigenous Patient Navigator Program: 905-358-4320
    Aboriginal Mental Health and Addictions Services: 1-877-402-4121 ext. 555
    Primary Health Care; Aboriginal Patient Navigation; Mental Health and Addictions 
  • Family and Children’s Services Niagara (FACS)
    Responds to concerns about a child being at risk or neglect or abuse.
  • Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre
    796 Buffalo Road, Fort Erie
    Cultural gatherings and programming; health outreach; lifelong care; justice; peer support; plus others. 
  • Jordan’s Principle Call Centre
    1-855-JP-CHILD (1-855-572-4453)
    Available 24/7
    Ensures First Nations children living in Canada can access to products, services and support. 
  • Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) (Ontario)
    Provides applicable coverage for a limited range of medically necessary goods and services to registered First Nations members. It may cover the costs of some, or all, medical, dental, and pharmacy services that eligible First Nations members may need.
  • Indigenous Child Service Management Limited
    Child protection advocacy 
  • Indigenous Affairs
    Non-Insured Health Benefits (Ontario)
  • Indigenous Diabetes Health Circle
    Diabetes wellness; Foot Care Program; Knowledge Department; Traditional Healers 
  • Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line
    Available 24/7
    Anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.
  • Hope for Wellness Help Line
    24/7 counselling and crisis intervention
    Immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada.
  • Niagara Chapter - Native Women
    1088 Garrison Road, Fort Erie
    Advocacy; justice; MMIW supports; child protection support; cultural gatherings 
  • Niagara Regional Native Centre
    Main Centre – 382 Airport Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake
    Healing and Wellness Program, Health Outreach Program, Youth Program, Community Action Program for Children, Prenatal Nutrition Program, Employment Counselor, Life Long Care Program, Indigenous Community Justice Program, Healthy Babies-Healthy Children Program and Literacy Program plus others.
  • Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board (NPAAMB) Indigenous Youth Employment & Training
    Skills development and training opportunities for urban Indigenous youth in Southern Ontario.
  • Niagara Region Métis Council
  • Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Crisis Line
    24/7 crisis line
    For culturally specific mental health and addiction supports for adults, youth, and families in Ontario (available in English and French).
  • Talk4Healing – Anishinabe Women’s Crisis Home & Family Healing Agency
    Talk, Text, Chat 1-855-554-4325 (HEAL)
    24/7 help, support and resources for Indigenous women, by Indigenous women, all across Ontario. Available in several Indigenous languages as well as English and French. 

Mental Health Resources in the Community

  • Indigenous Mental Health Services, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Pathstone Mental Health (youth)
  • Walk-in clinics and crisis line
  • Canadian Mental Health Association – Niagara Branch
    Mental Health & Addictions Access Line/Warm Line
    Confidential Help 24/7
  • Counselling (Private care INAC approved)
    Don Neufeld
  • Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST)
  • Indian Residential School Crisis Line
  • Niagara Distress Line 24/7
    Skilled responders supporting the safety and emotional wellness of those in need.
    905-688-3711 (St. Catharines, Niagara Falls)
    905-734-1212 (Port Colborne)
    905-382-0689 (Fort Erie)

Smudging in the hospital

Spiritual Care staff and Aboriginal Patient Navigators can advocate for and assist with arrangements for patient smudging.

How to request this?

Call the Niagara Health switchboard at 905-378-4647 and ask for Spiritual Care. Inpatients can also talk to their nurse about contacting Spiritual Care.

Smudging is possible at:

  • St. Catharines Site Spiritual Centre
  • Welland Site Spiritual Centre
  • Port Colborne Site Spiritual Centre
  • In ‘negative pressure’ patients rooms when-and-where (a) transfers clinically can be accommodated and (b) Engineering and Environmental Services Staff are included in the planning, at the St. Catharines, Welland and Niagara Falls sites.
  • During weekday day-shift hours, when-and-where (a) transfer to the one negative pressure patient room can be accommodated and (b) Engineering and Environmental Services Staff are included in the planning, at the Fort Erie and Port Colborne sites.
  • Outdoors at any site

Future South Niagara Site

The new South Niagara Site will be built to include an Indigenous Healing Centre, co-designed with Indigenous community members. This space will provide a culture-informed space to use for traditional health practices, ceremonies and conversations with patients and families. The new site will also have an Indigenous Healing Garden that will offer a feeling of grounding and connection to Mother Earth.

Priority areas and initiatives to date

Welcoming physical spaces

An Indigenous Healing Centre and Healing Garden is being planned for the new South Niagara Site to provide a gathering, ceremonial and healing space.

Awareness and staff education

Niagara Health has:

  • Supported the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Sensitivity Training, with many staff and leaders having completed the eight-week program over the last several years;
  • Established a committee made of up staff and physicians to support a more diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for our workforce;
  • Provided cultural humility and unconscious bias training to our Human Resources Team, DEI Committee, Executive Team and Medical Advisory Committee. It is also delivered on a request basis to teams.
  • Supported IAP2 Canada Indigenous Awareness for Engagement Professionals Training, for staff to build a fundamental understanding of effective and meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities. 

Navigation services

Community engagement and partnerships

South Niagara Site Indigenous Committee

Red Dress Day

Niagara Health wishes to acknowledge the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People on Friday, May 5.

This annual day, also known as Red Dress Day, honours the memory of women, girls and two-spirit people who have suffered gender-based violence and to express support for their families and communities.

“Red Dress Day is an opportunity to increase awareness of the crisis that exists in Indigenous communities,” says Charity Beland, Niagara Health’s manager of Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation. “Our mothers, daughters, sisters and two-spirit community members are experiencing rates of violence more than three times higher than that of non-Indigenous people. That violence too often leads to tragic outcomes. This important day provides an opportunity to honour those who have been stolen, and to bring awareness to the work that needs to be done to protect our future generations.”

To find out more about Red Dress Day, please visit

A community event will be held in St. Catharines on Friday night with a walk starting at 5:30 p.m. from city hall to the Brock University Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at 7 p.m. An Indigenous artisan market will be held in the lobby of the school from 6 to 8 p.m.

Niagara Health is listening and learning more about the healthcare experiences of Indigenous Peoples to improve patient care and experiences for Indigenous patients.

Learn more about the independent ED Assessment and share your experiences or suggestions on how we can improve your care.

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Posted May 5th, 2023

New role signals ‘big change’ for Indigenous patients

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Posted Mar 30th, 2023

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As Niagara Health’s first Manager of Indigenous Health Services and Reconciliation, Charity Beland is intent on changing the narrative around Indigenous patient experiences.

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