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RHS Cultural Framework

Note: The following has been adapted from the RHS 2002/03 Report Results for Adults, Youth, and Children Living in First Nations Communities [  4.3 Mb ]. This is meant as a summary only; readers are encouraged to download the report for a complete discussion the RHS Cultural Framework and its significance.

Visitors may also be interested in the foundation paper for the RHS Cultural Framework: Indigenous Intelligence [  175 Kb ].

The First Nations Information Governance Committee (FNIGC) commissioned the development of the RHS Cultural Framework to assist in achieving a culturally informed interpretation process. That is, research should be presented back to communities in ways that are usable and reinforce their ways of seeing, relating, knowing and being. Simply stated, the RHS Cultural Framework encompasses the total health of the total person within the total environment.

From the beginning, First Nations people have been taught that we start with a focus on the people – by giving thanks for their caring, honesty, sharing, and strength. Therefore, in keeping with the RHS Cultural Framework, we wish to extend our appreciation to all the First Nations people that participated and shared in this process.


Figure 1: The RHS Cultural Framework


Where the Model Comes From

The underlying science behind the RHS Cultural Framework has been handed down through generations of First Nations people as a cumulated body of knowledge and beliefs. While it is recognized that Indigenous Knowledge is not a uniform concept across all First Nations in Canada, for most First Nations people there is a common belief in a connection with the natural world. With this in mind, we represent the natural world with a circle.

We begin at the centre of the cultural model (see Figure 1) with a focus on First Nations people. It is reflective of the reasons, rules and rationale that are incorporated in the underlying science of the cultural model. In accordance with these rules, we will then move from the Centre to the East, South, West, North, and East again.

Vision (Ways of Seeing)

Within a First Nations cultural paradigm, vision is considered the most fundamental of principles. Visioning First Nations' well-being involves examining the complete picture of health including, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health issues. From an Indigenous Knowledge perspective, visioning will examine what is the ideal state of First Nations health and wellness (what was the standard in the past and what is the desirable/achievable in the future). In order to envision First Nations' health and wellness, it is imperative to establish a baseline of the extent and causes of the current situation. It is from that baseline that First Nation communities and stakeholders can move forward towards the ideal vision.

Relationships (Time/Ways Of Relating)

Refers to the experiences that one encounters as a result of relationships built over time and examines how we relate to people. It provides an opportunity to gain an understanding of the attitudes and awareness that exist at this particular point of time, regarding the individual, community and national wellness issues.

Reason (Analysis/Reason)

Also referred to as learned knowledge. It is where we become reflective, meditative and self-evaluative. It is in this direction, that the broader determinants of health are examined.

Action (Behaviours)

Also referred to as movement and represents strength. This direction explores what has been done about previously identified barriers and how to nurture us as First Nations. This component is important in that it activates positive change to improve the program so that it better achieves the vision (expectations) of First Nations resulting in the healthy development of their children, families and communities. It is important to note that the circular models presented in the RHS cultural framework are not medicine wheels.