In 2008, Dr. Margot Latimer and Dr. Allen Finley of the IWK Health Centre Complex Pain Team noticed something startling; only an estimated 2 out of 800 children referred to the Centre in its 17-year history were Indigenous.
As a result, Dr. Latimer partnered with Sharon Rudderham, Eskasoni Health Centres Health Director, and a team of First Nations community leaders, clinicians, Elders and researchers from the IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University. The UnPAAC (Understanding Pediatric Pain in Aboriginal Communities) project was established and Mi’kmaw participants shared their stories through art and conversation sessions. Consistent stories of Mi’kmaw children’s stoicism was found as well as a link between pain and hurt expression, assessment, and treatment.
A child’s expression of their pain experience is complex, and related to social and cultural factors. The way Indigenous children’s pain is assessed and treated by non-Indigenous health care providers can be ineffective, and have a range of negative effects.
Under-treated pain can lead to learning disabilities, heightened medical fears, anxiety, chronic pain, impaired development, poor school outcomes and inadequate health care that can continue later in life.
Challenges of Assessment and Treatment
Surviving the Survivor [7.45 mins]
In this award-winning piece for The National, former CBC reporter Wab Kinew shares his personal story of how residential schools affected three generations of his family.
Find out more
Experience Indigenous children telling their stories in their own words.