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Aboriginal Health &
Cultural Diversity Glossary

Aboriginal Glossary

Aboriginal community

Aboriginal health
Aboriginal nurse
Aboriginal nursing
Aboriginal Nursing Association of Canada (ANAC), 1975
Aboriginal Nurses Day
Aboriginal peoples
Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS), 1991
Aboriginal population
Aboriginal rights
Aboriginal rights (treaty)
Aboriginal self government
Aboriginal terms
Aboriginal title
Aboriginal women
abuse of people with disabilities
affirmative action
alcohol related birth defects (ARBD)
Alma-Ata Declaration, 1978
alternative measures
alternative practice
alternative therapies
American Indian Movement
Anisnawbe Kekendazone, Ottawa, ON (for research)
anomie theory
Assembly of First Nations


A – Definitions

“Abocide is the name some have given to the 1985, Bill C-31, the ‘Abocide Bill'. Like genocide, it refers to the extermination of a people; in this case, the extermination not of Indians per se, but of their status as Aboriginal people” (Daniels, 1999).
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“By an accident of language the word Aborigine is now associated with one country, Australia, and her Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander populations, but there are many other examples, notably in the Americas north and south. These groups share a history of brutal, even genocidal, expulsion from their lands, followed by the curse of imported infections and now, in the late 20th century, a disastrous health transition to western-type disease” (Anonymous, 1998).
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“The term "Aboriginal" has come into common usage since 1982 when protections for Aboriginal and treaty rights were incorporated in the Canadian Constitution. "Aboriginal" was defined as including Indian, Métis and Inuit peoples of Canada, although the boundaries of membership in these collectivities remains subject to various definitions” (Castellano, 2002).

A Latin-derived English word the Europeans used to describe the earliest inhabitants of Australia (New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council [NSWALC], 2002).

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Aboriginal community:
“Aboriginal community is used to refer collectively to the indigenous inhabitants of Canada, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. In particular the term First Nations replaces the term Indian, and Inuit replaces the term Eskimo” (Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996, as cited in Browne & Smye, 2002).
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Aboriginal health:
"Aboriginal health’ must become its own specialty in nursing and other health practitioner programs. The body of unique knowledge and skills must be further developed through research programs designed and delivered by Aboriginal professionals. Curriculum development needs to be based on research and traditional knowledge" (Submission to the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, ANAC, November 2001, as cited in Dokis, 2002).

Aboriginal health:
“Aboriginal health is the rich diversity of social, economical and political circumstances that give rise to a variation of health problems and healing strategies in Aboriginal communities” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 258-259).

also see Health

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Aboriginal nurse:
“A nurse of Aboriginal descent” (University of Saskatchewan, 2003).

Aboriginal nursing:
“Nursing care of Aboriginal peoples” (University of Saskatchewan, 2003).

Aboriginal Nursing Association of Canada (ANAC), 1975:
“Aboriginal Caregivers to Aboriginal People officially formed an association in 1975. Their role was addressing the many health problems affecting Native People. Their commonalities in education and training, cultural background and concern for the health of their people resulted in a common vision and goal” (ANAC, 2003).

Aboriginal Nurses Day in Canada
National Aboriginal Nurses Day, May 13, 1999. “May 13th marks Aboriginal Nurses Day in Canada. As Canada celebrates National Nursing Week (NNW), the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) joins with the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (ANAC) in highlighting issues specific to registered nurses practicing in Aboriginal communities” (Canadian Nurses Association, 1999, May 13).

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Aboriginal peoples:
“The Constitution Act of 1982 defines Aboriginal people as including Indian, Metis and Inuit people” (Alberta Justice, 2002).

Aboriginal peoples:
"The Aboriginal peoples according to Kent McNeil, legal counsel, are defined by the Canadian Constitution as including 'the Indian, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada': as found in section 35(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982, (U.K.) c.11." (Bellfy, 2001, p. 11).

Aboriginal peoples:
“The descendant of the original inhabitants of North America. The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal people - Indians, Métis people and Inuit. These are three separate peoples with unique heritages, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs” (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2000).

Aboriginal peoples:
In the Canadian context, the Indian, Inuit and Metis peoples are recognized as “‘Aboriginal peoples’ under section 35(2) of the Constitution, and their ‘existing Aboriginal and treaty rights are recognized and affirmed’” (Waldrum, Herring & Young, 1995a, p. 11).

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Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS), 1991:
“The 1991 Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS), (Statistics Canada, 1993) provides a snapshot of the general conditions of life for Aboriginal peoples; characteristically, such data is very general” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 20, 114). “The Aboriginal Peoples Survey (APS) conducted in 1991 has rectified some of the deficiencies in survey data on a national scale” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 74).
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Aboriginal population:
“Group of people that are Aboriginal by ancestry” (Thesaurus, 2003).
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Aboriginal rights:
“Rights that some Aboriginal peoples of Canada hold as a result of their ancestors' longstanding use and occupancy of the land. The rights of certain Aboriginal peoples to hung, trap and fish on ancestral lands are examples of Aboriginal rights. Aboriginal rights will vary from group to group depending on the customs, practices and traditions that have formed part of their distinctive cultures” (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2000).

Aboriginal rights:
“Aboriginal rights are rights for Aboriginal people, guaranteed by the Constitution. These are rights that usually have to do with hunting, fishing, or any activity that Aboriginal people have always maintained to survive. It is important to understand that Aboriginal rights are inherent rights. They are not given to Aboriginal people by the government, but are recognized. The government is saying that they know that those rights have always been there, because Aboriginal people have always hunted and fished and governed their own communities in their own ways” (Industry Canada, 2003).

Aboriginal rights:
"Rights that some Aboriginal peoples of Canada hold as a result of their ancestors' long-standing use and occupancy of the land, e.g., to hunt, trap and fish on ancestral lands. Legally, the existence of specific Aboriginal rights are determined on a case-by-case basis" (Government of Saskatchewan- Government Relations and Aboriginal Affairs [GS-GRAA], 2003, 3).

Aboriginal rights (treaty):
“Inherent rights such as hunting and fishing, by the treaty agreement with the British Crown since 1874. Treaty rights are forever, as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow”

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Aboriginal self-government:
“Governments designed, established and administered by Aboriginal peoples” (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2000).

Aboriginal self-government “right to self government”:
“Aboriginals believe that their right to self-government is an inherent right, a right which they have always possessed and that was given to them by the Creator. There are some important "signposts" since the arrival of European settlers which are suggested as confirmation of the Aboriginal right to self-government: the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the treaties, and the Constitution Act of 1982” (Industry Canada, 2003).

also see Self-government

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Aboriginal terms:

  • Ha la mootxw: for curing humanity, Ooligan grease high in vitamins and highly nutritious, called ha la mootxw by Northern BC tribes
  • Kiagi: “come here” in Inukatuk
  • Tansi: hello (Cree)
  • Teniki: goodbye (Cree)
  • Turtle Island: North America
  • Semiahmoo: half moon (Semiamu Indians)
  • Sihtoskatowin: Supporting one another
  • Semma: tobacco
  • Wiing: sweetgrass
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Aboriginal title:
“In 1888, in the St. Catherine's Milling and Lumber Company v. Regina, the Supreme Court ruled that Indians held a "personal usufructuary title" to the unsurrendered lands. That is, they had rights to use and occupy the land. However, the court stated, the Crown held the underlying title to the lands. Any lands surrendered by the tribes would go back to the Crown, not to the province. The court decision did not give a clear definition of Indian sovereignty but did acknowledge that Aboriginal title was still "a burden" on the Crown (Isaac 1995, 14). While the Indian tribe's "use and enjoyment" of the lands was protected, the issue of Indian title and sovereignty remained legally undefined. The Supreme Court did consider the Royal Proclamation but gave a very restrictive interpretation of the doctrine that did not recognize Indian title to the lands, thus ignoring Indians' sovereign rights” (Cote, 2001)

Aboriginal title:
“A legal term that recognizes Aboriginal interest in the land. It is based on their longstanding use and occupancy of the land as descendants of the original inhabitants of Canada” (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2000).

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Aboriginal Women (Inuit):
“Inuit women deferred to male leaders in public decision making, but had considerable influence in social relations and family affairs, especially as they grew older” (Indian and Northern Affairs, 2003).

Aboriginal Women (Mohawk):
“Mohawk women were active in the political life of clan, village, nation and confederacy” (Indian and Northern Affairs, 2003).

Aboriginal Women (Ojibwa)
“Public recognition went almost exclusively to the activities of men. Nevertheless, women were considered essential economic partners in the annual cycle of work. Women performed not only the normal domestic chores and child care, but used their skills to weave fish nets, paddle canoes during the hunt, tan hides and harvest wild rice and maple sap” (Aboriginal Women, Industry Canada, 2003).

Aboriginal Women (Iroquoian):
“In Iroquoian communities, the woman was defined as nourisher and the man as the protector/helper. Iroquoian society was matrilineal, meaning that descent was traced through the female line. Women were understood by the tribe as the Keepers of the Culture and they were responsible for the establishment of all the norms - whether they were political, economic, social or spiritual” (Aboriginal Women, Industry Canada, 2003).

Aboriginal women (pre-contact)
“What can be generalized about the role of women in all pre-contact Aboriginal cultures is that while men and women had different responsibilities to creation, one was no less important than another. Men and women were considered equals, with very different elements and very different responsibilities, and each was necessary to make life complete” (Aboriginal Women, Industry Canada, 2003).

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“Habitual abstaining from intoxicating beverages” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2003).
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abuse of people with disabilities:
“People with disabilities are very vulnerable to abuse because they may depend on others who provide them with care. They may be susceptible to violence by partners, caregivers, neighbours, relatives and strangers. Victims may suffer physical and sexual assault, neglect, confinement, intimidation and environmental deprivation (Family Violence, Situation Paper, Government of Canada, 1991, as cited in Health Canada, 2003).
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“Accidents are defined an unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance; lack of intention or necessity; an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance; an unfortunate event resulting especially from carelessness or ignorance; an unexpected happening causing loss or injury which is not due to any fault or misconduct on the part of the person injured but for which legal relief may be sought” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2003).

also see Injury

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”Cultural modification of an individual, group, or people by adapting to or borrowing traits from another culture; a merging of cultures as a result of prolonged contact; the process by which a human being acquires the culture of a particular society from infancy; word origin 1880” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2003).

“The process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another population group” (Glanze, Anderson, & Anderson, 1990, p. 9).

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“the act of interceding or speaking on behalf of another person or group” (O’Neil, 1989).

advocacy (explicit):
“Explicit advocacy occurs when the interpreter interprets the information between the patient and the health care providers to redirect the attention to the broader sociocultural context. Explicit advocacy may often require the interpreter to directly challenge the doctors or nurses control over the clinical encounter” (O’Neil, 1989).

advocacy (implicit):
“Implicit advocacy is usually the adopted technique by the interpreters. Implicit advocacy occurs when the interpreter tries to support the patients and providers interests by changing the statements during the encounter” (O’Neil, 1989).

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affirmative action:
“Affirmative action is an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women; word origin 1965” (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 2003).
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“the presence or absence of a factor which can cause a disease. It answers the question "what?" (Harkness, 1995). The primary case of a health related condition” (Clark, 1996, p. 109).

also see Indian

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aging: see senior
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AIDS: (see HIV infection)

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome):
"The late stage of the illness triggered by infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This is simply defined by the presence in an HIV positive person of one of a long list of serious opportunistic diseases or conditions associated with immune deficiency. In the USA (unlike Canada) HIV positivity with a CD4 < 200/mm3 is considered AIDS" (Kent-Wilkinson, 2003).

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alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD):
“Drinking during pregnancy can result in a wide array of anatomic and functional abnormalities in offspring, that is, alcohol-related birth defects (ARBD). These defects include a pattern of abnormalities known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)” (Ashley, 1992).

"In 1972, the U.S. National Council on Alcoholism defined alcoholism as a pathological dependency on ethanol (Criterim Committee, NCA, 1972) Alcoholism is characterized by tolerance, physical dependency, and/or pathological organ changes" (Shkrum, 1990, p. 172, as cited in Kent-Wilkinson, 2003).

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“A method of treating disease with remedies that produce effects different from those caused by the disease itself” (, 2003).
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Alma-Ata Declaration (1978):
“The federal government (of Canada) endorsed the Alma Alta Declaration of 1978. This declaration was signed by 134 countries, under the auspice of the World Health Association, and reiterated the definition of health first published as a preamble to its 1948 constitution. This definition states that health is “…a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease”, a definition which, while broad is still considered paramount today (World Health Organization , 1978: 2, as cited in Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 234-235).

Alma-Ata, Declaration of, 1978
“On September 12, 1978, at Alma-Ata in Soviet Kazakhstan, representatives of 134 nations agreed to the terms of a solemn Declaration pledging urgent action by all governments, all health and development workers, and the world community to protect and promote the health of all people of the world. This international conference urged other international organizations, agencies, non-governmental organizations, funding agencies, all health workers and the whole world community to support national and international commitment to primary health care and to channel increased technical and financial support to it” (World Health Organization, 1978).

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alternative measures:
“Measures other than judicial proceedings to deal with a crime or criminal
behaviour” (Kent-Wilkinson, 2003).
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alternative practice:
“option, choice of, substitute” practice (Thesaurus, 2003).
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alternative therapies:
“The Tzu Chi Institute defines alternative therapies as "independent healing systems or interventions used outside the realm of western medical theory and practice. Some examples include Ayurvedic Medicine and homeopathy" (Tzu Chi Institute, 2003, as cited in Canadian Nurses Association, 2003).

See also Complementary therapies

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“Amputation (removal/extraction of limb) was a surgical practice performed by Aboriginal North Americans “where limbs were crushed or where irreversible infections such as gangrene had set in” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 114).
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Anisnawbe Kekendazone, Ottawa, ON:
“Anisnawbe Kekendazone, is located in Ottawa, Ontario. Community Information and Epidemiological Technologies Canada and the Institute of Population Health at the University of Ottawa were awarded a 3-year ACADRE grant. The center Anisnawbe Kekendazone, will train Aboriginal researchers by offering opportunities to participate in high-profile indigenous research projects in Canada and around the world. Initial health research priorities at this facility are perinatal health, youth at risk and resilience, and knowledge translation (communicating health research knowledge to Aboriginal communities in a way that is readily understood)” (Reading & Nowgesic, 2002, p. 1399-1400).
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“Related to the notion of acculturation is that of 'anomie,' a classic sociological concept, first postulated by Emile Durkheim in 1951. Anomie refers to a state of normalness, or for the individual a sense of powerlessness over one’s life that eventually leads to depression and in some instances suicide” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 267).

anomie theory:
“Anomie theory when applied to Aboriginal drinking describes these behaviours as a form of retreatism in the face of cultural contact and the loss of autonomy following colonization” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 267).

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“Anthracosis is a chronic lung disease resulting from long term inhalation of smoke from burning seal oil” (Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 274).
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“Arteriosclerosis is characterized by atheromatous deposits in and fibrosis of the inner layer of the arteries” (Merriam–Webster Dictionary, 2003).
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Assembly of First Nations:
(Waldram, Herring, & Young, 1995, p. 19-20, 147, 242-3).
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“In Australia, a 19th century idea that Indigenous people should be 'improved' by being integrated into the white society and way of life. Its more extreme advocates hoped to eventually "breed out" Aboriginality or colour. From the 1930s assimilation became Government Policy” (New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council [NSWALC], 2002).

“Before Confederation and up through the first half of the twentieth century, the policy of the Government of Canada towards the First Nations was assimilation. It was thought that the quickest route to 'civilizing' and 'converting' the indigenous population was to forcibly remove indigenous children from their homes and communities and place them in residential schools. There was considerable variation in how the schools operated, but in many cases the children were forbidden to speak their mother tongues, their cultures were condemned as barbaric and their spirituality as heathen” (National Day of Healing and Reconciliation Petition, 2001).

For the full references of works cited above, please see the Glossary References page >>

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