Union of New Brunswick Indians

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First Nations Regional Health Survey (FNRHS)

 Contact by Email 
Telephone:  506-458-9444
Fax:  506-458-2850

Hazel Atwin
Regional Coordinator

The only First Nations-governed holistic health survey of its kind in Canada, the RHS is currently in the third year of a five-year process that will see it collect data from 250 First Nations communities, in collaboration with its regional partners in 10 provinces and two territories.   The Regional Health Survey is the only First Nations-governed national health survey in Canada, the First Nations Regional Health Survey (FNRHS, or RHS for short) is a unique initiative. Founded in 1997, the RHS collects information about on reserve and northern First Nations communities based on both Western and traditional understandings of health and well-being.

The RHS is carried out by the First Nations information Governance Centre (FNIGC), a non-profit First Nations organization that has been doing surveys on reserve and in northern communities in collaboration with its Regional Partners since 1997.

The RHS grew out of a National Steering Committee which was created to design a new national First Nations health survey as a response to a Federal Government decision to exclude First Nation people living on reserve from three major longitudinal population surveys.

In the nearly two decades since, the RHS has gone through four cycles and has collected quality, culturally relevant data from tens of thousands of First Nations people. This data has influenced and informed such crucial programs and policies as the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative, the Aboriginal Head Start Program, the Children's Oral Health Initiative, as well as Communicable Disease Control, Food Security and Nutrition, Healthy Living,Healthy Child Development, and Mental Health and Addictions.

FNIGC's pioneering survey work has been reviewed by Harvard University (in 2006) and Johns Hopkins University (in 2012), which concluded that our methodology was “outstanding,” “excellent” and “first-rate”. It also concluded that “with respect to fidelity of design, the evaluators found the execution of the RHS to be excellent overall and superb along many dimensions.”

The Assembly of First Nations(AFN) Chiefs in Assembly, the Chiefs Committee on Health (CCOH) and First Nations regions across the Country have mandated the FNIGC to oversee the administration of the RHS,

FNIGC membership is derived from the RHS regional organizations, which provides a solid regional and community based foundation for governance. Results of the most recent version of the Survey, RHS Phase 2, were published in June 2012. RHS Phase 3 is scheduled to start rolling out in Fall 2014.

Where is the RHS taking place?

The RHS is happening in 250 First Nations communities in 10 regions (which include 10 provinces and two territories) across Canada: Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta,Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. RHS Regional Coordinators manage the implementation of the survey in collaboration with the FNIGC.

Phase 3 of the RHS is scheduled to launch in Fall 2014, and Will build upon the previous success of the RHS Phase 1 and 2. Upon completion of data collection and analysis, the data will be released in a series of targeted reports in 2016/2017.

What does the RHS measure?

The RHS addresses a comprehensive range of health Status, wellness and health determinant measures and is broken down into three parts: adult, youth and child. When combined, these parts provide comparability to other Canadian surveys while addressing First Nations priorities within a cultural and holistic framework.

While the questionnaires have largely remained true to their original content, work has been undertaken to modernize the questionnaires ensuring their continued relevance to First Nations communities.For example, for RHS Phase 3, two new priority areas -bullying and maternal behaviors - have been identified by our Regional Partners.

Final results from RHS Phase 3 will be presented in a series of targeted reports focusing on priority areas identified by our First Nations partners.

What happens to the Survey data?

The safety and security of First Nations data is very important to FNIGC and its Regional Partners. After it is collected all survey data provided will be locked up and protected by RHS Field Workers. Each Field Worker has been trained on the First Nations principles of OCAP, which stands for ownership, control, access and possession: a set of guidelines that require data be kept confidential and safe. RHS Field Workers recognize and respect the importance of privacy and fully understand how to keep your information protected.

First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) (2012).  First Nations Regional Health Survey (RHS) 2008/10: National report on adults, youth and children living in First Nations communities. Ottawa: FNIGC.

First Nations Longitudinal Regional Health Survey.  Presentation to the Workshop on Data Collection and Disaggregation on Indigenous Peoples Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues United Nations Headquarter, New York, New York January 19- 21, 2004