Aboriginal Health Access Centres (AHACs) are innovative, Aboriginal specific, Indigenous informed health care agencies. They provide a combination of health and social services to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, including:
- Traditional Healing
- Primary Health Care
- Health promotion services
- Cultural programs
- Community development initiatives
- Social support services
In Ontario, AHACs were first announced in 1995 in response to epidemic, systemic health disparities and inequities within the Aboriginal population across Ontario. They operate from a wholistic Aboriginal health framework which is often referred to by Aboriginal people as “the good life” or as restoring the “good mind”. The framework focuses on the restoration and rebalancing of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal people, families, communities and Nations, and understands “culture as treatment”.
The model of care recognizes Aboriginal rights to determination in health, and Aboriginal traditional healers and healing approaches, and blends them with culturally competent, western clinical practices to address prenatal and maternal care, primary care, mental health, addictions and chronic disease prevention and management. AHACs address the health and wellness needs through all the life stages from pre-natal to Elder and incorporate a comprehensive continuum of care from health promotion and prevention to treatment and rehabilitation. The model also recognizes the importance of the interconnectedness of individuals, families, Nations, environment and spirit world within our life support system.
Currently, there are ten AHACs across Ontario, which provide services both on and off-reserve, in urban, rural and northern locations.