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Pharmacy : Indigenous Research and Resources

This Pharmacy Research Guide brings together information resources relevant to Pharmacy and Pharmacology.

Introduction and Goals

Inexcusable gaps in health care services, medication coverage, and negative health outcomes exist for Indigenous Peoples. Notable gaps in health care are present in maternal health, suicide, mental health, addiction, chronic disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.1,2,3,4,5  Medication coverage is still inequitable under the racist and colonial 'Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program,' as Indigenous Peoples experience differences in eligible health and medication services; unreasonable administrative procedures; and timely access to medications.6 Sadly, there is also no shortage of examples depicting deadly health outcomes for Indigenous Peoples, such as the cases of Brian Sinclair and Joyce Echaquan

The goal of this page is to advance decolonization efforts within pharmacy education and practice, as well as to highlight Indigenous research, voices, and ways of knowing by:

  • Highlighting resources that focus on traditional medicines, healing practices, cultural safety, and trauma-informed care
  • Providing literature search advice and strategies to help researchers uncover resources
  • Identifying Indigenous research methodologies, Indigenous-led health care institutions and centres, as well as pharmacy professionals of Canada

What can I do as a Pharmacy Student/Professional?

As pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals, it is essential for pharmacists to exercise empathetic and non-judgmental care for Indigenous Peoples.  In turn, this will help to reduce healthcare inequities and contribute to ending negative outcomes for Indigenous patients.
In the article, A Path to Reconciliation, Dr. Gezina Baehr identifies1 ways that pharmacists can meet the Truth and  Reconciliation Commission mandates (#18-25) related to health:
  • Seek out educational opportunities, especially related to the impact of residential schools and colonial policies on Indigenous Peoples
  • Mitigate barriers to healthcare needs, for example - transportation, nutrition, adherence and accessibility
  • Research the Indigenous Peoples in your community and educate yourself on their needs; not all Indigenous communities are identical and have the same needs.
  • See the value in traditional medicines, Indigenous healers and Elders and do not make culturally insensitive comments about their efficacy or safety
  • Advocate for cultural competency training in your workplace

Background Readings and Resources

Finding Literature

Hedges are standardized search strategies that can be used to help retrieve relevant articles.Hedges are also called filters, clinical queries, or optimal search strategies. They are not a guarantee of retrieving quality research; you still need to critically appraise results for quality and relevance.

Connect with your subject librarian for assistance in utilizing these comprehensive search filters.

Traditional Medicines and Healing Practices

“In order to work toward reconciliation in the health care system, Indigenous knowledge and evidence must be recognized as legitimate and integral to the health and well-being of Indigenous people.”7

In Swidrovich's presentation, Evidence-based medicine through an Indigenous lens, they advise:

Phrase any "criticism" of other medicines, practices, and approaches in a way that will not feel patronizing.

"That is really interesting.  My training in Western medicine did not include _____, but based on what I do know, it doesn't sound like ______ will be harmful.”8

Your Feedback Please!

This page will be continuously updated.  Please feel free to send any questions or comments regarding content, as well as issues with broken links, to  All feedback is welcome!


  1. Baehr G.  A path to reconciliation. CAPSIL. Published 2020. Accessed March 9, 2023.
  2. Marsh TN, Coholic D, Cote-Meek S, Najavits LM. Blending Aboriginal and Western healing methods to treat intergenerational trauma with substance use disorder in Aboriginal peoples who live in northeastern Ontario, Canada. Harm Reduct J. 2015;12:14.  doi:10.1186/s12954-015-0046-1
  3. Beckett M, Cole K, White M, et al. Decolonizing cancer care in Canada. J Cancer Policy. 2021;30:100309. doi:10.1016/j.jcpo.2021.100309
  4. Aziz H, Marchand M, Pop C, et al. A Call to Action: Optimizing Indigenous cardiovascular health in Canada. Can J Cardiol. 2022;38(10):1584-1587. doi:10.1016/j.cjca.2022.06.011
  5. Sjoblom E, Ghidei W, Leslie M, et al. Centering Indigenous knowledge in suicide prevention: a critical scoping review. BMC Public Health. 2022;22(1):2377. doi:10.1186/s12889-022-14580-0
  6. Swidrovich J. The whiteness of medicine. In: Gebhard A, McLean S, St. Denis V, eds. White Benevolence: Racism and Colonial Violence in the Helping Professions. Fernwood Publishing; 2022:189-199.
  7. Gomes T, Leon AY, Brown L. Indigenous health leadership: protocols, policy, and practice. Pimatisiwin: a Journal of Aboriginal and  Indigenous  Community Health. 2013;11(3):565-578. Accessed March 9, 2023.
  8. Swidrovich J. Evidence-based medicine through an Indigenous lens. Pharmacy Practice Webinar. Canadian Pharmacists Association. Presented January 23, 2020.