The Aboriginal Children’s Hurt & Healing (ACHH) Initiative is a research initiative which aims to improve Aboriginal children’s healthcare experiences. The ACHH Initiative seeks to better understand the pain and hurt experience of Aboriginal children and youth. By gathering individual stories and artwork the ACHH Initiative has begun to understand the cultural differences in both the emotional and physical pain experience.
To date the ACHH Initiative has collaborated with four First Nations communities across the Maritime provinces (Mi’kma’ki & Wolastoqey regions). Conversation sessions have been held with key community groups (children & youth, parents, Elders, teachers & health clinicians) as well as art sessions with children and youth. Results have shown a cultural stoicism regarding pain expression possibly stemming from a history of residential schooling. Beyond this, community members have highlighted a profound understanding of pain as something that is experienced on multiple levels - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Health utilization data has further supported our findings by identifying significantly more painful experiences than non-Aboriginal children associated with a range of areas (dental, ear, throat, headache, injury, etc.).
With the information gathered the ACHH Initiative is addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action by creating mechanisms to help support Aboriginal children and youth in the healthcare setting including a pain app and online training opportunities for health clinicians.
Through continued support from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research and the IWK Health Centre the ACHH Initiative will be expanding to six additional communities across Canada (including 1 Inuit and 1 Métis). Through this process we will build our understanding of the unique pain experience of Aboriginal children and youth and further develop knowledge translation tools to support health clinicians in creating a better health experience for Aboriginal children. For more details on the ACHH Initiative’s work please visit www.achh.ca.