Knowledge & Research

Project Scope

The ACHH Initiative’s ultimate goal is to gather and combine traditional and Western knowledge to better understand how Aboriginal children’s pain is experienced, expressed, interpreted, assessed and treated. What began in one Aboriginal community (Eskasoni First Nation) expanded to three maritime communities and will now be expanding to 6 additional communities across the country in 2017/18.

Early research findings suggest that a complex mix of factors have led to a cultural divide for First Nations children in pain and non-Aboriginal health care providers. We want to help bridge that gap.

Western-based health care professionals use pain measurements like facial expressions and numeric scales which may not be accurate tools for diagnosis and treatment of Aboriginal children’s pain. Issues of discrimination and intergenerational trauma (including residential school experiences), as well as a lack of understanding of cultural traditions by health professionals, have added to the problem.

Why it’s important

Research shows that chronic illness in First Nations communities is almost three times what it is in the general population, and Aboriginal children have higher rates of painful conditions, more injuries, and more painful ear, dental and musculoskeletal issues.

These high rates of painful conditions impact Aboriginal Children’s ability to grow, learn and achieve the same outcomes as other kids. The measurement and treatment of Aboriginal children’s hurt needs to be urgently addressed.

Project Goals and Objectives


  • To collect Aboriginal community members’ perspectives on how pain is expressed, interpreted, and managed in Aboriginal children;
  • To determine the best ‘self-report’ pain mechanisms appropriate for Aboriginal children; and
  • To examine provincial health indicators.


  • Phase 1: Using qualitative methods of storytelling and art we will explore the questions raised from the original Eskasoni-based research, and determine if the same perspectives are held in other Aboriginal communities.
  • Phase 2: Using both qualitative and quantitative methods we will develop and test the ACHH App,  created by and for Aboriginal children using culturally relevant narrative and visual representations.
  • Phase 3: Using quantitative data we will explore and compare Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children’s pain-related health care data, such as health care utilization and diagnoses.
  • Phase 4: Drawing on the collective knowledge gained and filtered through the team’s Two-Eyed perspectives, we will share our knowledge with health professionals and students, communities, universities and hospitals. These sharing could take the form of university courses, videos, continuing education, publications, and more!

Find out more

Check out our News & Events page to see when we’re coming to your area to share our results!