The Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation (AIWF) has brought together in a symbolic self-determined union, the Inuit, Dene, and Métis with the mandate of culturally reviving traditional healing services and practices in Canada’s north. AIWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving traditional and culturally based health care for indigenous northerners facing a high burden of disease and unequal access to traditional health services. AIWF is committed to working with patients, health workers, researchers, and policymakers to ensure equal access for all northerners to traditionally based quality wellness services.
AIWF was launched by a group of indigenous lead elders representing the Dene, Inuit, and Métis people in the north as a humanitarian response to the dire statistics in First Nations and Inuit health. It has long been known that indigenous people in Canada, including in the northern regions, suffer disproportionally from cancer, diabetes, addictions, suicide, and autoimmune conditions, in addition to higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, and food insecurity. A sense of urgency among the elders of the north to pass down their long-standing healing traditions, which are on the brink of extinction, has prompted the development of a formal strategy and structure to ensure the next generation of indigenous people are as healthy and happy as their ancestors.