First Nations Regional Health Survey

The first—and only—national First Nations health survey of its kind, the First Nations Regional Health Survey (FNRHS, or RHS for short) collects wide-ranging information about on reserve and Northern First Nations communities based on Western and Traditional understandings of health and well-being.

Launched in 1997, the RHS is conducted and carried out by the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC), a non-profit First Nations organization, in collaboration with its Regional Partner organizations (which represent 10 provinces and two territories).

The RHS is considered the  reliable source of information about life in the 634 First Nations communities across Canada, with its data being used to support policy and programming at the community, regional and national level.      

The roots of the RHS can be traced back to 1994 when the Federal Government made a decision to exclude First Nations people living on-reserve from its three major national population surveys. In response to the resulting data gap, a grass-roots collective of First Nations advocates and academics came together under a common cause: to create a new national First Nations health survey designed by First Nations for First Nations.

  

Founded in 1995, this National Steering Committee spent much of their time fighting for funding, recognition and respect, but persisted in their efforts and in 1997 launched the First Nations and Inuit Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (now known at the RHS pilot). In the two decades since, the RHS has gone through four cycles (an initial pilot survey, followed by three national survey phases) and has collected quality, culturally relevant data from tens of thousands of First Nations people living in reserve and Northern communities.

As FNIGC’s foundational survey effort, the RHS data has informed such key programs as the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, the Aboriginal Head Start Program, the Children’s Oral Health Initiative, the Maternal Child Health Program and the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention program. In addition, RHS Data has influenced such policy areas as food security and nutrition, healthy living, healthy child development, communicable disease control, youth smoking, and mental health and addictions.

FNIGC’s pioneering work with the RHS has been validated by evaluation teams from Harvard University (in 2006) and Johns Hopkins University (in 2012), who praised the survey  methodology as “outstanding” and “first-rate” and concluded that the execution of the RHS was “excellent overall and superb along many dimensions.”

To download the most recent RHS national report, click here: National Report of the First Nations Regional Health Survey Phase 3: Volume 1.

To download past RHS reports visit FNIGC's Publications & Downloads page.