Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 22(4) March 2010 : 24-39.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2010.21595
Innovation in Leadership

Rethinking Nursing Best Practices with Aboriginal Communities: Informing Dialogue and Action

Dawn Smith, Nancy Edwards, Wendy Peterson, Maria Jaglarz, Dorothy Laplante and Alma Estable


This paper stems from findings of a literature review and consultation with key informants to explore nursing best practices in public health with rural and isolated Aboriginal communities. It summarizes background information on population distribution, the impact of colonization on Aboriginal health and the potential benefits for nurses and communities in adopting a partnership approach, rather than risking cultural imposition while applying best practices and knowledge derived from the dominant culture. The authors provide an alternative working definition for best practices in the context of public health nursing with Aboriginal communities based on findings from the literature review and key informant consultations. Findings include three principles for the development and assessment of nursing best practices with isolated Aboriginal communities: use of indigenous frameworks, capacity building and cultural safety. The discussion highlights examples that demonstrate the feasibility and strengths of these three principles across a selection of isolated, rural and national settings. Implications include a call for nursing leaders, managers and policy makers to take up this challenge and support wider dialogue and action to enable nursing practice that supports the efforts of Aboriginal people to improve health and social conditions.



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