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About RHS

What is the RHS?

The First Nations Regional Health Survey (FNRHS, or RHS for short) is the only First Nations -governed, national health survey in Canada. It  collects information about on reserve and northern First Nations communities based on both Western and traditional understandings of health and well-being.

Evolution of the RHS

The first RHS took place in 1997 (RHS 1997) and involved First Nations and Inuit from across Canada. At the time, reliable information on the health and wellbeing of First Nations and Inuit was severely lacking due to the exclusion of First Nations and Inuit from major national health surveys. RHS 1997 was implemented to address these deficiencies while acknowledging the need for First Nations and Inuit to control their own health information.

RHS 1997 is considered to be the pilot survey within the overall longitudinal design of the RHS.

Data collection for the second iteration of the RHS, RHS Phase 1 (2002/03), began in the Fall of 2002 and was completed in mid-2003. RHS Phase 1 was designed as the baseline study of a longitudinal design. In total, 22,602 surveys were collected from 238 First Nations communities (Inuit communities did not participate in this round).

Project Coordination and Mandate

The RHS National Team is located at the First Nations Information Governance Centre in Ottawa and coordinates the RHS on a national level. Our activities include preparing reports, serving as the data steward, and engaging in partnerships.

In addition, ten independent, RHS Regional Partners coordinate the RHS in their respective regions. The National Team and Regional Partners collaborate on collective issues as well as share ideas and knowledge.

The RHS National Team is mandated and authorized to report on national level statistics; we cannot provide or report on regional level statistics. Each Region is completely independent and are responsible for their own respective databases and reporting.

RHS Code of Research Ethics

The RHS Code of Research Ethics [ PDF document 166 Kb ] Updated! provides a set of principles and procedures which guide the FNIGC in implementing the RHS on behalf of all First Nations. It also contains the First Nations Research Policy Statement: 

  • It is acknowledged and respected that the right of self-determination First Nations includes the jurisdiction to make decisions about research in their communities.
  • The benefits to the communities, to each region and to the national effort should be strengthened by the research.
  • Research should facilitate First Nation communities in learning more about the health and well being of their peoples, taking control and management of their health information and to assist in the promotion of healthy lifestyles, practices and effective program planning.
  • The First Nations Information Governance Centre promotes making the most of the funding opportunity on behalf of First Nations. We will reclaim the original foundations of our health and healing.


The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chiefs in Assembly, the Chiefs Committee on Health (CCOH) and First Nations Regions across the country have mandated the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) to provide oversight and governance over the RHS. FNIGC membership is derived from the RHS regional organizations, and thus, provides a solid regional and community based foundation for governance.

Funding Source

The First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) would like to acknowledge the First Nations Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) of Health Canada for its continued support as the primary contributor to the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS).